Valby Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN - 26/4
Cold Night For Alligators
Course Of Events
Written by: AP on 10/01/2016 23:26:23
Six years ago, when technical metalcore (or ‘djent’) had not yet reached its apex, a troupe of youngsters from the capital left me gasping for air with the ”Ulterior Motives” EP, a trio of songs that showcased a mastery of instruments unprecedented in the Danish metal community. The band in question was Cold Night For Alligators, and despite trapping themselves somewhat in excessive, almost arrogant displays of virtuosity whilst paying little mind to memorable dynamics, their rumbling eight string guitars and wild disregard for conventional time signatures was a breath of fresh air — a formula they have been honing ever since, first with the introduction of vocals on the “Singular Patterns” EP in 2012, and now, long at last, by coming of age on their debut album “Course of Events”.
It is the group’s first recorded output to feature a bassist — Christian Minch — and wholesale changes have also occurred in the vocal department, with Johan Pedersen, whose voice has not graced music since Trusted Few called it quits in 2013, taking over from the departed Sebastian Beronius. Whether it is the doing of these two musicians is of course up to debate, but it seems that with "Course of Events", the 'Alligators define their ambition with a newfound clarity. Their signature sound is reined in a much more rigid harness now, with Pedersen demanding space to air out his pipes, and Minch often keeping the wackier ticks of guitarists Kristoffer Jessen and Roar Jakobsen in check. Make no mistake, the degree of technicality is still dizzying. But a healthy portion of the look-what-I-can-dos have been substituted for more structured song writing, with the result that these new tracks not only impress by virtue of musicianship, but also stick to your memory. By thinking about the marriage of melody and groove with the flaunting embellishments in a more measured way, Cold Night For Alligators manage to sound less like Animals as Leaders on acid, and more like Periphery. That is, the songs are easier to follow, and thereby have a lasting quality about them that was sorely missing until now.
People who like having a calculator at hand when listening to music will still rejoice in the mathematic chugs and dissonant stings discharged by the opening track, “Considering Catastrophe”, but for every period of frenzy there is also an opposite and equal reaction, with Pedersen exchanging screaming for singing not far off from Spencer Sotelo’s abilities, and the instruments assuming a supporting role instead of mind boggling start/stop rhythms and note patterns that ensure every fret is given the proper patina. “Calculated Accident” and “Art” serve good samples of the duelling elements, both starting on a hyperactive note before Pedersen ties them into a neat knot with poignantly sung lyricism à la ”The pouring rain recalls that night / We never felt compassion, never will / This whole city may see us fight, in indifferent light“ and ”Won’t you show the world that wisdom”. Indeed, his and his compatriots’ knack for transitioning between ferocity and emotion is exceptional, a process embodied to the fullest by my personal favourite “Retrogress”, which sucks the listener in with head bopping, Meshuggah school djent groove, bludgeons him with some seriously crushing breakdowns, and then grandiosely soars into the most unforgettable chorus the album has to offer: ”This dance turned on the lights, these lies stacking high / The world needs another war, the warlord turned his sight”.
What is most striking about “Course of Events” though is how considered all of it sounds — it justifies the four years under construction. The balance never favours the emotive over the bruising, the elaborate over the understated; and by holding all of their facets in equal esteem, the ‘Alligators remain interesting and varied throughout the album’s ten tracks. The band is able to switch from near balladry on “Inconsistent” to utter devastation on the Vildhjarta-esque “Daydream” without a single qualm, and sometimes this process is even completed within the confines of a single song, such as is the case in the aforementioned “Calculated Accident”. Granted, some work still needs to be done with regard to lifting every track onto the breathtaking level of that song, as well as the likewise highlighted “Art” and “Retrogress”. The underlying skill of musicianship is never in question, mind you. Rather, it is the knowledge that Cold Night For Alligators can pen such simultaneously awe inspiring and lasting music that produces some disappointment in the second half of the record, with tracks like “Querencia” and “Brother” not quite measuring up in terms of memorabilia. That said, taking into account the leaps made between the “Singular Patterns” EP and this long-awaited full-length, it is safe to wager that the best is yet to come from Cold Night For Alligators.
Download: Considering Catastrophy, Art, Inconsistent, Retrogress
For the fans of: Animals as Leaders, Ghost Iris, Periphery
Release date 11.01.2016