Head Control System "Murder Nature" CDPosted on Thursday, March 30th, 2006 @ 11:16am » permalink
I wasn't familiar with Head Control System prior to receiving this disc, so it should come as no surprise that when "Murder Nature" showed up in the mail I was completely fucking horrified by how ridiculous the cover art is (though it's important to note that thankfully most of the rest of the layout actually looks quite nice). Seeing that it was released by The End Records did provide me with some small shred of hope since I've been a longtime fan of the label, but let's face it: I was very much expecting the worst here. But I was curious, so I immediately threw it in while I was driving to work and as soon as the vocals kicked in I was like, "Wait a minute, is that fucking Garm?" And sure enough, I learned that Head Control System is a Portuguese/Norwegian duo masterminded by Daniel Cardoso (formerly of Sirius and Re:aktor), who handled all of the music on this outing, with the help of none other than Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg (Formerly of Arcturus and Borknagar, but more importantly Ulver's main man. I mean, fucking Ulver, people!), who took on the lyrics and vocals.
Now, of course this record is being promoted in part with the kind of tremendously misleading statements that I wholly despise, such as this absolute classic example: "Fans looking for that in-your-face rock attitude of QOTSA and Alice in Chains and/or the mind-numbing drive of Tool or Faith No More look no further: Head Control System is your fix." And to that I say: Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, and bullshit. First of all, Queens of the Stone Age fucking sucks and I simply cannot comprehend their inexplicable popularity, but whatever. On the other hand, I love Alice in Chains and Faith No More, and I can appreciate Tool in small doses, but Head Control System doesn't sound a god damn thing like any of these bands. Having written a few promotional statements for bands myself (which I'm just not a fan of doing), I can understand the pain of trying to draw parallels to outside audiences strictly for the purposes of "marketing", but… it's a huge leap to compare this material to any of those bands, and I think everyone reading this will agree with me when they hear Head Control System for themselves.
So what does it sound like? While the band can't be so easily pinned down, at the most basic level they're very polished and definitely have a modern metal sound in terms of possessing plenty of groovy rhythms and a good balance of melodic tendencies. So, as if the title of this post didn't give it away: A lot of people are probably going to bemoan this as "nu-metal". And I'm not gonna lie, there are definitely a number of instances where this album does indeed sound like flat out nu-metal (I can see the "True Norwegian Nu-Metal" marketing campaign taking shape now! Just kidding.), were it to somehow be delivered in an artistically respectable fashion, which "Murder Nature" is. But Garm's vocals are of course extremely unique, not to mention immensely impressive and powerful, so his presence really changes the overall dynamic of the material – which is already too textured and creative in its use of electronic smatterings and atypical vocal arrangements to simply be relegated to some kind of "heavy rock" or "nu-metal" tag or whatever. But it does have some really catchy moments – again due in large part to the vocal work – so they're certainly not shunning a certain element of simplicity as far as memorable songwriting is concerned.
So yeah, I actually find this to be an excellent CD. It takes a few spins to start sinking in, and the album kind of ebbs and flows in terms of structural experimentation versus a more straightforward approach, but as you check out the tracks below, keep listening even if something rubs you the wrong way initially, because a lot of these songs have a tendency to switch it up out of nowhere and totally blow your mind. Kristoffer Rygg is a god damn genius in my book, and the vocal work during the chorus of "It Hurts" reminds me just what this cat's capable of. Fuckin' nice.
I've been wanting to post about this one for a few weeks now, but it won't be in stores until next week. It did just go up for sale online in the last few days, however, and since The End's webstore is generally my preferred first stop anyway, you'd be silly to buy it anywhere else in my opinion. So if you dig it, I recommend doing so: