EvilSponge's favorite Italian post-hardcore band are back at it. This time, when they emailed a link to the record, they included a link to the press materials, and joked "i attach artwork and lyrics, (of which you won't understand a word but it's our guilty pleasure :-))"
Actually, they just sent me a pic of the cover without the lyric sheet. But he's right -- i wouldn't understand it anyway! Not understanding the words would bother some people, but as a Cocteau Twins fan, i am used to incomprehensible lyrics. I have used Google Translate to make some sense of the wording here. The album title, Il Contrario Di Annegare means "The opposite of drowning", which is pretty cool.
The album starts off with Fine Di Piombo, a grinding instrumental with guitar, bass, and drums all over the place for most of its instrumental length, but then vocalist Fil yells angrily at the end. Google says the title means "End of Lead", and since that last word is ambiguous, i listened to the audio of the translation and they used lead as in "lead me unto the next song" not as in "bullets are made of lead". Huh. Not totally sure about that, now that i think about it. Anyway, the band is just throwing it down here, the guitar hurtling forward. Awesome.
Pacifico is next, and i knew that word means "Peaceful". It is not a peaceful song, it another fast song that just throws forward. At the end, Fil kind of chants some vocals, which is slightly different for them, and rather nice.
The next song is one of the most powerful in their catalog. It is called Questa Era Glaciale which means "This Ice Age". It starts normally with guitar and bass and drums chugging along, and then a minute in, the music pauses briefly, not quite stopping, and the drumming becomes flat and the guitar just tears into it, a powerful riff both grinding and soaring. He solos a bit and then the voice is back with bellowing, his voice breaking into rage and hurt. Wow.
Parlare Nel Sonno ("Sleep Talking") starts with bassist Manu (no last names given -- do they have those in Italy?) keeping a rolling riff while Fil plays a jangly guitar, almost like something by The Violent Femmes. Then, towards the end, the song slows down and drummer Luca keeping a nice tapped riff, as Fil's guitar clatters like Ova Looven and his voice is raw, warbling, hurt. Another wonderful tune, and i love the way the mix things up here, from the jangle punk intro to the shoegazey ending.
The next tune is I Planisferi Delle Scuole which translates as "World Map Schools". Here Action Dead Mouse start off with a stop start bit reminiscent of Rodan, or early Fugazi, before they tear into a fast rock song, drummer Luca channeling Jon Wurster with those hard, deep drumbeats. In the middle of this song, Manu takes a great bass solo as Luca counts off in a moment that reminds me a lot of 25 Beats Off, especially as Manu plays his bass through some fuzzy distortion and Fil's guitar chimes. The song grows, Fil chanting a bit, and then the overdrive goes on and he is yelling again. Wow.
Perifrastica Passsiva refers to the "passive periphrastic" tense in Latin which, despite my Catholic heritage, i do not understand. The song features another really great guitar riff, a fast jangling chiming bit. The vocals sound really angry, so i guess that Latin grammar makes them as angry as it makes American students. The guitar is perfect here though.
And finally we end with a song that is an ode to Rimini, which is a city in Italy just down the A14 highway from Bologna, on the coast. The song really sounds like Superchunk, with a big booming guitar sound, loud drums, and a rumbling bass. There are other voices here, yelling and shouting, sometimes in harmony, sometimes not. But something about it seems joyous, happy, with guitar sparkling through the distortion. A wonderful end to the record.
But, damn, these guys are doing some great stuff these days. It makes me wonder how many other really cool bands are out there, slogging it out in some local scene, taking American punk and translating it into anger at their local environment, screaming about the things that affect them over awesome guitarwork?
Also, i always think of this record as being short, because it seems there is just not enough of it. But when i add up the song times, there is almost half an hour of music here. I wish it were longer, but oh well.
Action Dead Mouse are doing some exciting things in the post-hardcore world. This is one of my favorite records in years. And they are giving downloads away as a "name your own price" on BandCamp. If you like post-punk, give it a listen. You won't regret it.