Boston-based 'Big Time Kill' create in their debut album 'Shock And Awe' not only songs, they create worlds. This may be due to the fact, that one part of this Industrial Rock Duo, Adam Schneider, makes his living by creating music for video games. So some of you might have heard his work before without even knowing it.
For my part, this was one of the most interesting records I've had in hands recently.
A hitchhike through the decades
Nonetheless, I can't deny the influences, those two guys incorporated in their record. There's Nine Inch Nails, INXS and a wild ride through 80's instrumentation, 90's Dance and 00's heavy Noise. Each song takes me through different states of mind, hosts quite interesting turns and developments.
To be true, this overcharged me when listening the first, even the second time. But what kept me and made me dive into the album was the fact, that it's never boring and some of the hook-lines are simply awesome.
Let's enter the rocket
Starting off almost meditatively, 'Carbon' drags me slowly into the darkness to come. A darkness that is sprinkled with lofty keyboard, bearing almost a touch of sci-fi. About the middle, the song slows down even more, nearly into zero gravity, but only to knock me hard back into the next reality with a whipping noisy beat. In the end, 'Big Time Kill' let me float in their star-spangled heaven towards the next Class M planet.
Those who think at 'Body Talk' of 80's Soul Combo Imagination are dead wrong. This is where the noise sets in. Sawing, noisy guitars and a hammering beat accompany the first lines adequately:
I've got a hammer, I've got a saw, I've got an image of who you are Lyrics from 'Body Talk' by Big Time Kill
This may sound like the opener to a horror movie about some sick relationship-thing, but my fear is blurred by the catchy chorus and a playful arrangement of glittery electronic sounds. Breaking this 'everything's‑okay-mode' with sawing guitars again, I get tossed around a bit, but it's fun, nevertheless!
Funky little 'Fuck you'
'I don't care anymore' is probably the funkiest little 'Fuck You' I've heard in quite a while. INXS influences are hardly ignorable, but I simply love the funky bass and organ contrasting the more shouted than sung chorus. Cumulating into controlled sound chaos, the bridge matches wonderfully the disordered state you're actually in when you just don't care anymore.
Now, this is crazy. In 'DTs' such a variety of styles is mixed, that my tiny, old Crossover-Heart made a jump. A rap-like intonation, heavy guitars set against a 90's Techno-oriented clean floating sound evolving over mid-strophe, then a guitar solo worthy an easy Prog-intermezzo and then a dark, sagging spoken part. I can't even concentrate on the lyrics, because there's SO MUCH happening here. Guys, I have to say
… it feels like love Lyrics from 'DTs' by Big Time Kill
Miami Vice confined to the beatbox
After this rollercoasterride, 'Don't need you' may appear close to Easy Listening, but don't you go wrong. A totally mental saxophone roughs me up here, not only because I really dislike sax, but because it also ads an 80's‑Miami-Vice-On-Speed-Madness to the otherwise very straight forward beat. The vocals tend unmistakably towards Trent Reznor of NIN.
And in gallops 'Evil'. Dirty breakbeats and single phrases do the voodoo, the unbelievably rainbow-pop-happy-sing-along-chorus makes me instantly grin like a Cheshire cat.
I keep holding on, I can be good, I can see good and feel good Lyrics from 'Evil' by Big Time Kill
The high guitar spider-tabbing in the background ads depth and gives this airy electronic part an earthy ground to draw its strength from. This is the absolute highlight on the album – I love it so much, that I keep on earworming myself on purpose by just remembering the chorus.
The intro of 'Shock and Awe' reminded me of early Korn-Intros, although of course much more electronic. Parallel running melody lines, pulling beats and heavy guitars push me into the reminiscence of NIN again. But still, I like 'Big Time Kill' much better, because their sound lacks the NIN-typical desperation. It's heavy, it's powerful, but there's still positive energy in it all. The sheer amount of different sounds to explore in this song is overwhelming.
Like a train 'Answer' is rolling in. More coal is shoveled on this beat-train in the chorus, that is so melodious I can't do else but swing along although lyrics wouldn't suggest:
You are the answer – can I be your God; You are the cancer – you can't cut me out Lyrics from 'Answer' by Big Time Kill
'Echo Heart' pulls me emotionally into a dystopian scenery, employing low noise, wind chimes and pauses that build up a certain tension. A much slower tempo is set in the main part of this song, which lets me glide through my imaginary grey dusted landscape full of lost souls, including my own.
'Overload' is what it's titled. To me one of the few weaker songs on the record because it's not as structured and clear as to where 'Big Time Kill' want to go. You might argue, that this is the plan, but I simply don't feel it. To me, it feels like Powerchord-Hammering known from a sac full of Melodic Metal Bands.
The record ends with the same mood as it started: 'Failed Regeneration' pushes me into a dark wormhole. It feels like sitting in a galley and having to row back into my own reality. I don't have the impression of an actual song but much more of a Outro to a journey I have taken together with 'Big Time Kill'.
Boy, what a trip. 'Shock and Awe' is one of the records I have to sit down to and listen with full attention. It is like enjoying a good Prog Metal album. Only it doesn't have anything to do with Prog. I had a hard time getting into the complexity, but it was totally worth it as I drew real energy just from listening to this awesome debut. So, sit down, drink tea (if you want to with Schnaps in it) and listen to 'Big Time Kill'.