|Artist||Long Distance Calling
|Album||The Flood Inside|
|Release||4 March 2013|
The German five piece Long Distance Calling return with their follow up to 2011’s ‘Long Distance Calling‘, and a few things have changed – Out is founding member Reimut von Bonn, and in is a new keyboardist/vocalist, Marsen Fischer. The band has worked a bit with guest vocalists before (John Bush of Armored Saint & Anthrax, and Jonas Renske of Katatonia for example), but Fischer is a permanent addition, though his vocals are not found on every track. Another move from a band that is always evolving, it seems.
The lead off track on the album, “Nucleus“, shows perfectly how Long Distance Calling refuses to fit into a tidy little post-rock label. Everything is moving along at the sort of pace most post-rock listeners are used to – build-ups, melody, atmosphere – when out of nowhere at about the 4 minute mark, a solid 2+ minutes of blues guitar riffing, courtesy of Henrik Freischlader. It works very well with the rest of the song, even if it may come as a bit of a surprise.
Fischer’s vocals are first featured on the next track, “Inside the Flood“, and in choosing him, Long Distance Calling has gone for sort of a hard rock feel. The vocal style is reminiscent of Mike Patton, without nearly as much range. I always give bands credit for pushing themselves and trying something new, it’s just that sometimes, it doesn’t quite work. While Fischer is no doubt a talented singer, his vocals combined with the lazy, repetitive riffing (save for a 2 and a half minute segment that’s a bit too cheesy ballad for me) make the song little more than a sub-par hard rock song.
“Ductus” is up next, and starts off with some calm, slow guitar picking, accompanied by a quote from Twin Peaks. The song picks up steam a little as the quote ends, and despite a few really out of tune guitar notes, things move along comfortably with the inclusion of some electronic elements. The pace switches about halfway through, and the song is dominated for a few moments by some heavy, rhythmic, almost tribal sounding drumming. Things tend to draw on a bit long, and I feel like this song could have been a minute or two shorter, honestly. It even ends with the cheesy, dramatic pause followed by a single loud guitar note (you know, the way bar bands end their cover set).
The best part of the following song, “Tell the End“, comes in the last 20 seconds, with an American Psycho quote. Otherwise, it is, sadly, another boring, repetitive song. “Welcome Change” features a few guest vocalists, Vincent Cavanagh from Anathema, and Norwegian singer/songwriter Petter Carlsen. Carlsen’s soft, delicate vocals are a big departure from Fischer’s hard rock style, yet they are even more powerful. Cavanagh is really only featured on the chorus, which strikes me as kind of an odd move – bringing in a guest vocalist for such a small part. The song works as a pretty good prog song, and actually is a bit of a welcome change, if only for the difference in vocals.
“Waves” is an electronics heavy track, and is easily my favorite track on the album. It’s very simple, but good. Some solid guitar work, and excellent drumming, propel the track forward, but sadly things fall very, very flat with the following track, “The Man Within“. The intro drumming is top notch, but as usual on tracks with Fischer’s vocals, the music gets repetitive and very boring. There are more out of tune guitar notes here, and although there are some explosive moments on the track, it’s overall a rather predictable track.
One of the other high moments of the album is “Breaker“, a track that starts off with almost a stoner feel to it, and moves along nicely through a series of peaks and valleys, proving to be one of the more interesting tracks on the album. The album closer, “Black Hole“, starts off with an electronic, almost dancer feel to it, before progressing to a melancholic sounding end.
Ultimately, while I applaud for branching out and taking chances, I think the album falls short. While they’re seemingly moving in a more prog oriented direction, I just don’t feel like they’ve quite gotten there yet.