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More than just some Catchy Riffs - 80%

raoulduke25, February 28th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Gates of Hell Records

I’ll be the first to admit that a band called Booze Control doesn’t exactly elicit the most favourable response when it comes to what I expect from heavy metal. On the other hand, many of us might be tired of the worn-out tropes used in the naming of countless metal bands. Still though, I have no idea what in the world Booze Control is even supposed to mean, and even less of an idea what booze has to do with the oversized creatures that are featured on their album covers. Nevertheless, don’t let any of this deter you from the band. Because in spite of their confusing name, they have some good things going for them, more so in this album than in previous ones.

Booze Control’s signature sound is simple. It has a stripped-down and bare feel to it, owing mostly to the minimalist approach they take to their instrumentation: guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. And that’s pretty much it. You’re not likely to hear any of those Deep Purple keys moving gracefully in the background and there are no synth effects to introduce the songs. Sure, there are plenty of ways you can use those instruments to make a whole variety of amazing styles, but even Booze Control’s execution is done with a bare bones approach: the riffs and solos are solid but not full of fanfare, and the rhythm section is consistent without being an over-the-top self-indulgent mess.

The result is that their works can sometimes be underwhelming, even if the music is competently played (and it is – they are a remarkably tight band). But this is where Forgotten Lands excels their previous albums in that this release does show a depth not seen before. More of the choruses are done with backing harmonies. There is more variety in the riffing and the accompanying percussion. The construction of some of the songs breaks out of the more conventional forms, leading to far more engaging pieces. “Of the Deep” and “Thanatos” are both excellent examples of how their songwriting has matured to a level not previously seen. They have always been good at crafting really catchy opening riffs, but their biggest weakness was an inability to capitalise on those riffs to make their songs compelling all the way through. And that is perhaps the most notable improvement here as a result of their increased depth.

There are a couple tracks that stood out to me more than all the others and those simply can’t be passed up. The album’s highlight track is the speedy and blustery “Slaying Mantis”. In a way, it captures everything good about the band and packs it all into a tight little gift box. If you only have a few minutes to spare then this is the track you should listen to. But if you want to hear what I believe is the best track they have ever composed, then stick around for a few more minutes and listen to the masterful closer, “Cydonian Sands”. It is a long, foreboding epic in the vein of Iron Maiden, complete with layers of sounds, fantastical lyrics, and melancholy interludes. If you have been previously disappointed with Booze Control, this song and perhaps this album might change your mind about what they’re capable of.

Originally written for The Metal Observer.