Monday, February 25, 2008
Between Force and Fate is a smack in the face from a fist that entered a time vortex in 1993 and reappeared just in time to knock the knowing noughties cynicism from our grinning faces. It's fantastic. Velcra do share a few attributes with their Finnish rock compatriots - they all have a flair for incredibly infectious musical hooks, they could all be accused of being more than a little derivative and they all have a sound that's far more than the sum of their influences. That, however, is where the comparisons end. Instead of overblown 80s rock, Velcra's heart is in early 90s rave, rap metal and political rebellion. Think Rage Against the Machine meets The Prodigy with a female lead-singer thrown in the mix.
Beginning as a two-piece for debut album Consequences of Disobedience, Velcra started life as guitarist/programmer O.D. (a sort-of Finnish Liam Howlett) and uber-versatile vocalist Jessi Frey. Now expanded to a full band that's still mixing programmed beats in with the acoustic drums, they're making music that is guaranteed to set any rock club ballistic, so long as they actually make the playlist.
Opener War Is Peace sets off in ballistic fashion, a machine-gun riff exploding into a furious tirade from Jessi Frey. The hook lines are simple but effective, "The battle has begun, counting 3-2-1 / are you ready?" she yells, and you can already hear the crowds shouting along. War is Peace feels like the tune of the year, at least until you get to Our Will Against Their Will, which is even better. Based on a speech Queen Elizabeth I gave to her troops in 1588 it combines a fantastic synth hook, a punishing sledgehammer guitar and a fantastic sense of uplifting fury to amazing effect.
By this point in the album you've tasted Velcra's energy, but only just scratched the surface of their versatility, or rather that of vocalist Jessi Frey. If she's not top of Liam Howlett's wish-list for collaborators, she soon will be after this. Imagine a female Mike Patton, or rather a cross between Mike Patton, Keith Flint, Dido and Bjork, a singer with a multitude of completely different voices and the ability to switch between any of them in an instant. I found Velcra while searching for artists to include in the female rock compilation that I'm throwing together, and they are a great find indeed. You can expect to see at least one song by them on the comp.
(Year of Release: 2005)
1. War Is Peace
2. Water Is Getting High
3. Our Will Against Their Will
4. For My Loneliness I Pay
5. Memory Loss
6. I Can't Tell The Sun From The Moon
7. The Bong Song
9. Hotel Alcatraz
10. Wonderland Sunrise
Download: Velcra - Between Force And Fate (59MB)