Written by: TL on 10/06/2017 12:37:39

Ten years into their career as a band, the stubbornly ambitious Copenhagen homeboys Siamese have arrived at their fourth album and their first to be released on an international label, Artery Recordings. Given the simple title "Shameless", the album finds the band further at work with the project they started on 2015's "Siamese", namely the dogged pushing and shoving at the home scenes' perceptions of how heavy music can and can't be combined with trends in modern pop.

Having grown from young guys rebelliously rocking to the tunes of both Saosin and System Of A Down, the Siamese members are now grown men with wives, responsibilities and jobs in both alternative and mainstream music. And the new album - when compared to its predecessor - insists even more confidently that rock and metal in the classical senses have been done to death, and that what's interesting is what you can do with the musical stylings exciting the younger generations these years. R&b-fused post-hardcore like that of Issues, Slaves and I The Mighty makes for clear inspiration from the rock side of things, while The Weeknd has clearly been in heavy rotation on the pop side.

The difference in confidence is heard in how the band does - however cliché it may read - sound both heavier and poppier than before. Not because Siamese will suddenly draw nods from metalheads for finger-bending shredding, but because the guitar parts - which are hard-hitting nonetheless - have been allowed to actually sound crunchy and heavy in the production, making for a nice and beefy contrast to those shameless references to modern pop that make for the other half of the songwriting.

Speaking of the production, guitarist, producer and main composer Andreas Krüger has been interviewed speaking proudly of how the whole album has more or less been made on his old laptop. With that in mind you have to be impressed, because the production is clear and certainly brings the desired pop/heavy dynamics to life, yet at the same time, there are moments where the digital sheen on things - although possibly intentional - gets a bit too much. Singer Mirza Radonjica has long since proven he can sing well enough for too much digital effect to actually be a drawback, and in a variety of places a Timbaland-esque tendency for background vocal ornaments feels a bit unnecessary once you eventually notice its rummaging behind the main songs.

It is of course all about the songs, however, and when "Shameless" is at its best Siamese sound deserving of both their local following and the growing attention around them internationally. The 'club-r&b meets Bring Me The Horizon-reference' of "Ablaze" makes for a bomb of a song that has both immediate and lasting impact, while the fellow single "Tunnel Vision" tips its hat the other way with a line from Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" embedded within a quaking session of semi-djenty post-hardcore riffage. And yet these pre-revealed singles prove to not even be the best the album has to offer. Instead, Siamese have been saving a winner in "Soul & Chemicals", which marries Christian Lauritzen's swooning violin to a racing beat and a power-performance from Mirza's vocals, spit out forcefully and with a great sense of rhythm in the lines. And to finish the album, the bonkers, out-of-the-blue, Africa-inspired "Cities" takes the sharpest of turns from an immediate sense of "what is this? why would they do this?" to "holy shit this goes hard" making for an oddball of a highlight to end the record.

Tracks like those alone would make for a top-shelf record put together, but alas, there are songs on the way that are less convincing, more conversation pieces. Of the two highly similar, mellower songs, "Make It Out" functions quite a bit better than "One Night Thing", with the latter sounding like an awkward suit for Mirza's voice and feeling like a song destined to be a footnote in the band's discography. "Brother" has a rousing chorus, but borders on feeling a bit too much like "sports ad rock"; "The Promise" struggles to really live up to its own otherwise remarkable, effect-laden solo; while "My Turn" feels like it lacks a real chorus to top off its otherwise frighteningly great production.

All things considered, "Shameless" is an album which, whether it earns the band the international traction they long for or not, succeeds on their other mission criteria: To both deliver some bangers proving that they still got the goods, and to make people talk and argue over whether their bastardization of pop and heavy rock is progressive or just blasphemy. On balance, lining the songs up makes it veer right on the lower edge of the 8 mark, also partly because at 32 minutes, the album is rather short. There would have been room for two more winners to fortify the impression around the more debatable tracks, which would've made the album as a whole just that little bit more unfuckwithable.


Download: Soul & Chemicals, Cities, Ablaze, Tunnel Vision
For The Fans Of: Issues, Slaves, I The Mighty

Release date 02.06.2017
Artery Recording

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