A Female Impersonator

Blackmail

Ransom Records, 1996

http://www.blackmail-music.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/02/1997

One of the most interesting things about this gig is the mail I get from other countries, including requests from other bands to review their material. I've always welcomed a chance to hear what bands on the other side of the planet are up to. Then, I got a message similar to this:

"We're a band from Sweden. Would you consider reviewing our album?"

Oh-oh. I think Sweden, I think of the evil triumverate: ABBA, Ace Of Base, and The Cardigans. (Don't even get me started on Deep Jimi And The Zep Creams - yeech.) But, I decided to keep an open mind and offered to review their efforts.

Boy, am I glad I did - Blackmail, a three-piece hard rock outfit hailing from Gothenburg, are barely out of their teens (drummer Danne Lundsbye is only 19), but their second mini-album A Female Impersonator shows they have mastered their instruments and are one solid unit. If this album is any sign of their power on stage, they are one tiny step away from making it big.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Let's start with the only complaint I have with the album - at four songs, it's way too short. Not only does the album end just as you've worked yourself into a head-pounding frenzy, but it makes it a little more difficult for me as a reviewer to get a good grasp on their abilities. But for the twenty minutes they do supply, they make the most of every second.

The title track features guitar work from Robert Alsterlind that builds from gentle to pounding, while bassist Jens Lundsbye provides a solid backbone without being too showy on his instrument. Drummer Danne Lundsbye is able to grind a natural sound out of the skins that I don't often hear in major releases - a welcome change. For that matter, the production work of the band and Ove Svensson deserves special praise - well done!

The best cut on A Female Impersonator is "World Of Misery," from a catchy guitar riff to well-written lyrics (and the endearing sound bite from Monty Python) make this song incredibly powerful. Alsterlind's vocals are flowing and clear, and though the subject of the song is a little dark, there is a slight vein of humor in it. In short, a damn near perfect song.

The other two songs on the disc, "Demon's Hide" and "I Become," (the former with vocals by Jens Lundsbye) are just as powerful and as good as the rest of the disc. This is why I wish the disc had been longer - with four solid tracks, I wanted to hear more of how good this band is. Pity they chose to stop at four.

In one sense, you have to admire Blackmail for choosing a progressive hard-rock vein to tap, a form of music that has fallen out of commercial favor recently. It may still be very big in Europe (not having the funds left in the Thelen Travel And Alcohol Fund, I can't check for myself), but it would have a hard time getting a foothold in America.

This is a shame, because you can hear how much fun these young men are having in the performances, and they deserve a real chance to break through internationally. There has been some airplay in selected countries - as well as critical surprise that these guys haven't even been signed in their homeland. So allow me to add my voice to this cry: will someone give these guys a chance and sign them?

Blackmail is a band that shows a lot of promise, even with such a strong start. If A Female Impersonator is any sign of things to come, I'd say it's safe to assume we're going to be hearing much more from this band.

Rating: A-

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ransom Records, and is used for informational purposes only.