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Swedish chefs get freaky - 80%

chaxster, November 21st, 2007

It’s not really that hard to try pin and a label on Spanking Hour. Putting it plainly, it’s metal. In addition to the giveaway riffage, there’s also the fact that all the songs seem pissed off about something or the other. So if you like guitar-driven metal, have a sense of humour and consider yourself just a little open-minded, the odds are you’re going to like this.

The signature sound of the band just happens to be vocalist/guitarist extraordinaire Matthias IA Eklundh’s crazy solos and fills. Say what you will about the guy’s style, but you can’t deny that it’s a sound you recognise a mile off. It’s quite cool that despite its brash, alien nature, he manages to get it to hook up with the songs seamlessly.

About the songs themselves, they’re mostly heavy, chunky wedges of metal, frequently catchy, occasionally manic, and once in a while, serene. The first part of the album is a gigantic headrush, with wall-to-wall riffs, killer chorus harmonies and midsection solos that have you pulling your hair out in clumps, peaking with the brilliant ‘Taste my Fist’, which is probably the best song they’ve ever written, jazz sections and all. Added irony bonus for the fact that it’s a violent song taking the piss out of violent people.

‘Burning Bridges’ signals the first change, with a clean guitar rhythm over a thumping bassline that, in spite of being a flagrant shift of pace, doesn’t sound the least bit out of place. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for ‘Lisa’, which comes up shortly after – the song just doesn’t work for me, and the absolute tempo shutdown is a killjoy.

Reprieve isn’t long in coming, though. The one-two punch of the title track and ‘Proud to be Plastic’ should be more than enough to have you throwing punches in the air again, and all is right with the world.

Sure, there are a few points you could nitpick, if you wanted to. The Kitchen is hurt a bit by the lack of a de facto singer (or maybe not, most of them are prissy bitches), the rhythm section is perpetually playing second fiddle to IA and it also shows that they’re writing lyrics in a language that isn’t their own.

But dammit, what they lack in finesse, they make up in sincerity and outright showmanship. This is music for people who like fun, and maybe just happen to worship the guitar too. While they went on to make more refined albums, this still has a special place in my heart for the explosive energy all over the place. Definitely worth a listen.

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