Record Swap: Deuce Vs. Beargod
In this edition of Record Swap, our resident gun-and-lightsaber-toting gangster Ron Deuce faces off against the malevolent ursine deity Nordling Rites ov Karhu. Is the foul-mouthed Jedi’s chosen pick enough to destabilize the cosmos and bring the primordial demiurge to the mortal plane? Read below and find out. The rules for Record Swap are simple: no research, no foreknowledge, no mercy.
Nordling Rites ov Karhu’s Assignment: Dephosphorus’ Axiom (2011)
Since I genuinely wanted to give the Beargod something he would enjoy, I did some research by going through some of his posts. And in a recent post on Finnish Death Metal, the band Vorum reminded me a little of Greece’s Dephosphorus with their raw blackened approach to death metal. The band play a very interesting blend of grind, black metal and crust topped off with healthy amounts of dissonance. If you dabble in any of the aforementioned genres, you’ll find there’s something here to get excited about. – Ron Deuce
Deuce sent me this album with “I think you’ll enjoy it,” so naturally I hesitated. For almost three seconds before I exercised my right to name my price and started spinning the crap out of this record. Then I made the mistake of looking at the tags on their BC page. Astrogrind, immediately my boner shriveled, withered and died. My body suddenly didn’t know for what it was supposed to prepare itself. Why do bands make up these silly tags to describe their music? Slapping a sax or a set of keys on top of an extremely derivative songs doesn’t give you the glory of “finding” a new genre.
How incredibly relieving that Dephosphorus wielded neither sax nor keys (not outside the atmosphere-building anyways). And behind the semi-ridiculous, self-made tag lies a whole bunch of awesome. At the heart of it all is somewhat chaotic grind/hardcore and on the top black and death are sprinkled, a few moments even favoring the atmosphere instead of furious riffwork, relentless drumming, bloody vocals and a ton of other cliches I could use to describe this 20-minuter.
There’s a whole lot of variation in the construction of these songs, and even though I knew right after the first time I was going to love it, it took me a good while to really wrap my head around it all (and who’s to say if I still have). The variation doesn’t just concern the band’s trick arsenal here. Yes, there are black metal-ish moments amidst the chaotic grinding. Occasionally something reminds you of death metal before descending into atmospheric hardcore. But I’m referring to the songs themselves, every song has a different structure from the rest.
Yet if I had been given thirty- or forty minutes of this I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much, because it gets a tad too monotonous to really want to indulge into it. The ever-changing style can get hard to grasp and start to blur if Axiom didn’t end as quick as it does. But this isn’t as much criticism of the EP as it is of Dephosphorus’ execution of their style of choice.
Axiom is an effective and compact rager that, unlike so many short-and-furious releases, keeps its best tricks up its sleeve until you get too close and BAM! You’re done. – Nordling Rites ov Karhu
Welcome to Adventures In Record Swap. The amount of hoops we had to jump through to get a hold of Asa’s Love resulted in numerous dead ends as the Beargod and I went through much back and forth before finally getting a hold of this elusive record. Spotify told me to go fuck myself because I’m not European, and Youtube wasn’t providing any help at the time either. Finally, we called in Winston Wolfe and the problem was solved.
Much to my surprise, Love is a hip hop album, and that’s a genre I listen to almost as often as metal, so I’m uniquely qualified to provide some color commentary on this album. After a brief intro, the album kicks off with “Täältä Tulee Valo” which sports some upbeat jazz lounge piano as a beat. Upon hearing this, I feel as if I’m being transported to a dimly lit speakeasy where everyone’s smoking cigars, drinking scotch and sitting at those small round tables for two. It’s a very catchy opener. “Jalanjäljet Laiturilla” follows with a beat that combines sitar and some almost eerie sounding synths. Interestingly, the track ends with what sounds like some live instrumentation, but I can’t tell if it’s sampled or live musicians. The album remains strong at three tracks in with the upbeat “Mä Haluun Olla Hippi”. Organs (I think) and some chord driven guitar work combine along with the bass line to keep the head bopping. The “La La La La” chorus is very catchy and works well with the beat. The next track utilizes some Lethal Weapon sax and is one of the more laid back numbers on the album. Probably my favorite track on the album is “Taulu (Feat. Anna Puu)” which is simultaneously upbeat and laid back. The chorus sounds more like something from björk than the usual R&B divas that do choruses for US artists on hip hop songs. Anna’s voice is lovely, and she can serenade me any day. “Vastaukset Tuulee” starts off heavy on the drums, and then the beat comes in. All in all, the beats on Love are very imaginative and use a wide variety of instruments throughout the record and could probably go toe to toe with many of the producers with name recognition in the US.
The challenging part of this album is that because I cannot run it through Google translate, I can’t make out what’s going on from a lyrical perspective. With hip hop, lyrics carry as much weight as the music because an artist is inviting you into his or her mind. Is Asa a mollied up half-wit like OG Macko who shouldn’t be allowed near a microphone ever? Or are his rhymes more politically motivated like Immortal Technique? Is he more of a fun loving playful type like Redman? Or is he just awful garbage like Drake? Based on the beats alone, I’d say that the overall vibe would indicate there’s some fun going on here with some serious songs in between to balance it out. I intend to research at some point and see what I might be able to pick up since this would help me appreciate it more.
Despite the language barrier, there’s a handful of solid tracks on here that will find a home in my music library. The tracks mentioned above are all standouts. This was a nice exercise that gave me a peak into another country’s music that I otherwise would not have known existed. Thanks to the Beargod for thinking outside the box and sharing this. – Ron Deuce
The mad Jedi came in with a furious snake on a plane strike, but the craft bear god was ready with a mighty paw. In the end, I found these two cuddling like best buds. For shame.
Want to get involved in Record Swap? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.