MoonJune 2022

Truce 2

Donning a full-metal jacket, Berlin’s own revolutionary releases pandemic-induced frustration to cleanse ether and soldier on.

There must be nothing surprising about Markus Reuter laying down heavy vignettes in a trio – after all, the German maestro’s a part of STICK MEN – yet when he came up with “Truce” in January 2020, right before the Covid hit, a few aficionados were astonished by the guitarist’s newfangled fierceness. Markus may have bounced back into delicacy with "Music Of Our Times" a bit later, in the company of Gary Husband, but January 2022 found Reuter in a previous format, fathoming the power of three. The follow-up to the first installment in this tentative series seems to sound much more serious than its predecessor that smelled of humor, and its aural assault is much more solid, if still rich in nuances. More so, it’s a full-on metal now.

The little ensemble don’t spend a lot of time building a tectonic rift of a riff with “The Rake” that feels funereally gloomy and theatrically fearsome; however, they don’t hurry to reveal a plethora of breathtaking details in this somewhat Wagnerian piece where Fabio Trentini’s electric contrabass and Asaf Sirkis’ tribal drums rage and ravage Markus’ often fragile, effects-laden passages. Perhaps, less otherworldly, “Rounds Of Love” places the group into urban landscape and lets the players paint menacing happenings over a catchy chug in which the rhythm section’s ever-shifting, frontal groove and the six-string wail create a weirdly alluring, almost lyrical, sonic layer until “Barren” attempts to dissolve anxiety in a sludgy pool of lava whose miasma is to attain romantic aroma along the way and pack a mighty impact with its tiny clusters of a tune.

So while the frenetic “Melomania” goes for the jazzy jugular by pouring piano drops in the intoxicating mélange of bottom-end notes and high-pitched and smearing fretboard figures over this concrete-jungle surface, “Consolation” leads the listener towards a Gothic cathedral in which the previously unleashed dissonance is kept to a minimum, without affecting Markus and Fabio’s intense solos, in favor of overall electronica-stricken solemnity. What will transpire from there has to contrast “River Of Things” which restores chaos to its willful wonder in under five minutes, allowing “One Cut Suffices” to exude troubled elegy – and the album’s finale to stress how Reuter and his colleagues succeed in redefining the “prog metal” term.

They might be angry – yet theirs is the righteous angst.


February 12, 2022

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