Here is a band from Norway that is hard to define and review. They grab your attention with that cover and album title, and then the style they play is a form of avant garde, experimental, progressive melodic death metal that’s really difficult to pigeonhole. The only bands I could think of that shared some of the off kilter riffage and structures were Germany’s Island, France’s Supuration and defunct Finns Farmakon.

With those references as a very loose baseline, you might get some idea of Okular and Sexforce. They are if anything hard to describe, but above all they know this and seem to thrive on befuddling the listener at every turn. But it’s all done with a likeable smile and sass and enough technical skill to make it not completely over the top or insufferable. Throw in some guest vocals from Vintersorg (“The Greatest Offender”) and Susperia‘s Athera, and a seal of approval from Bornknagar‘s own Oysten Brun, you get a band that is pretty confident in their ability and presence.

However, to the casual listener, Sexforce could be construed as a real mess. It’s not until repeated listens and real active listening that the band’s stuttering, convoluted riffs, blasts, growls, croons and plethora of unpredictable tangents, breaks, segues and bridges come together to form something quite extraordinary at times, if it does require some effort and commitment. As indeed lurking beneath the flurries of time changes and staggering, angular riffs and solos is some real ambition and skill. In Flames this is not, so don’t go expecting catchy choruses or galloping memorable riffs. Sexforce is a jumbled array of atonal shifts, unconventional vocal changes (Meshuggah-ish roars, NWSDM rasps, croons and sneering cleans) and  and percussive unpredictability that somehow comes together to form something unique with a creative (literally) thematic/lyrical concept, despite its best efforts to derail itself with bouts of musical ADHD.

Amid the chaos though, a few standouts do come to the surface – notably Vintersorg’s turn on “The Greatest Offender”, where his smooth vocals add some calm to the choppy lope and atonal solos in the track. Another couple of tracks of note are the ballad “To Ring the Bell of Truth” with alluring piano use and interlude “The King of the Lie” which is death metal vocals over a flamenco backdrop (I’ll let that sink in). But the rest of the tracks like “Rest in Chaos”, “Ride the Wave of Emotion”, “Exposing the Good Citizen” or “Birth Through Loss” will more than likely titillate musicians who appreciate skill over substance as they are often mind boggling in their creativity, though lacking in memorability.

In all, a striking, challenging album for those with a more expansive melodic death metal palette than can appreciate the thin line between genius and insanity as its hour long run time and unpredictability will have a narrow, specific appeal. But it will reward those who do try with a pretty unique album that does not cater to conventions.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 21st, 2013


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