Creature with the Atom Brain – Transylvania
The End Records (2/2/10)
Rock / Alternative
Chances are you will have heard this album a million times before, under different titles and by different bands. It’s not a terrible release, per se, for this Belgian quartet, but it also never achieves anything above mediocrity.
The vocals and guitar effects are a constant disappointment, sounding uninspired and added in for the sake of it. The songwriting often feels hollow and underdeveloped, dragging down the obvious efforts to project a sense of attitude and brooding charisma, which fall flat at every turn.
Opening track “I Rise the Moon” begins quite strong, with its Queens of the Stone Age Rated-R-esque feel, but it never really builds on any of the momentum made from the first minute. The poorly thought out tangent that interrupts its one great hope of a climax sends you to your player to check it hasn’t glitched out and thrown you into another song altogether.
From here on in, the songs fluctuate between dirge, euro-centric MOR-rock and the briefest of attempts at new ideas deflated by the lack of commitment or follow-through. In fact, the band seems disinterested and/or scared of interrupting the plod of linearity they’ve found themselves in.
Stand-out tracks are the slow burning and mildly ambitious seven minutes of “Darker Than a Dungeon” and the snarling, guitar-led “Make Noise”. Both show promise and a taste of what could have been but they only sit here as highlights by default due to the lack of notable moments elsewhere on the album.
But within Transylvania, there are positives. For what they are, they do pull off the generic desert-rock sound very well whilst failing to bring anything in the way of interesting twists or fresh ideas to the party. The album is well recorded as individual tracks, but the mix and levels conspire to cloud the end product, leading to vocal lines and details drowning in a malaise of overenthusiastic gain sliders, always seeming to punish and promote the volumes of the wrong parts of each track. The aforementioned guitar effects sound feeble and regularly fail to break into the forefront of the songs in which they’re deployed. These could have been used to far greater effect, as the songs are screaming out for someone who knows how to use a pedal board instead of adding another layer of bland.
The album never really gets going, leaving you with a stale collection of tracks that have all been done before, and better. What this album needed was a huge dose of energy and passion to drive it forward and breathe life into its stilted existence. Without it you’re left with a limp, half-baked record of average proportions.