MOUNTAIN’s God of Thunder serves up a philosophical rock opera that puts morality to the test.
There’s much in the name of every collective Corky Laing’s ever been in, including ENERGY and this one, formed in Finland and giving a whiff about their studio debut’s drift. A version of the rock opera “Test” that hangs on the works by bioethicists Matti Häyry and Tuija Takala, who became the veteran’s artistic co-conspirators, “Playing God” relates a dystopian story from our alternative future and spans the many facets of the most fitting genre for such a narrative: the blues. It needs to be heard, then, as well as read for wordplay – where “split genes” sounds like “split jeans” – to add another layer to the music which runs from acoustic to metallic and provides a supple vehicle for Laing’s voice. Heard before, now Corky’s vocals are perky enough to portray an array of characters from the grizzled musician he is in real life to a buzzing teenager he’s remained in his heart
But, of course, it all starts with drums, Laing’s first weapon of choice, before “Terrace Of The Gods” waltzes off from onto the power prog plateau from the unplugged Delta swampiness to descend to the rockabilly of “Perfect Boy” and the BEACH BOYS-inspired punk of “College Girls,” female singers – among them TANG’s Bonnie Parker and Denny Colt – contrasting Corky’s incantations and going all riot grrrl in “My Brother’s Gonna Die.” Once the harmonies are reined in on a heavy level, so effusively riffy on “Crying Shame” and instrumental “Sisterhood,” SPIN DOCTORS’ Eric Schenkman spikes the desperate “Father’s Lament” and “Jupiter” with a heightened poignancy, whereas simple, if moving, percussion renders “Eyes In The Mirror” heartbreaking, and “Meltdown” turns the similarly folky flow into electric lava. With theatricality kept to a minimum and played out towards the end, in the choral “Mr C’s Demise,” this opera delivers its anxious message impressively, with not one iota of edification, and is another glorious achievement for Corky.