Raw Rock Fury – Vinyl // CD // DD
Relapse Records – April 7th, 2017
Reviewed By Andy “Dinger” Beresky
This is the second time in recent weeks that I’ve had to be extremely critical of a band that I truly like. If you read my review of Ecstatic Vision’s debut, you’ll remember that I really liked their sound, thought it was a really promising debut, and was fairly nonplussed by the banality of the lyrics. They were for the most part extremely pot-centric, and lacked any real depth or sense of subversion. I like subversion in art, I think it’s a really vital and overlooked element to a successful artistic statement.
At this point in time, I feel like there are two distinct schools on how to be a band: one school just gets their asses on the road, plays as killer of a live show as they can day in and day out, and sells as much merchandise as humanly possible to support their efforts. They put all of their energy into the stage each night. Their records are made in an effort to capture some of that live show and establish an ongoing connection with the fans who have experienced them live. Ecstatic Vision seems to fall firmly into this first camp.
The second school is composed of musicians who take their time with songwriting and recording, and are more concerned with making records that actualize their artistic impulses. They play live sporadically, when they can, though it’s not really their focus. The album itself is the ultimate art form and personal statement. I’m someone who falls firmly into this second camp.
It’s worth saying that most of the best bands of past and present can do both, though it’s a rare commodity in this day and age, with the way that the modern music industry works. I think that it’s vitally important for bands to attempt to bridge the gap – bands that make amazing studio albums should make an attempt to translate that into a live setting, and bands that that are awesome live need to learn the nuances of songwriting and the studio. There are obviously some serious growing pains involved in this process, and part of that process involves the ability to take criticism and evolve accordingly. The responsibility to offer this criticism lies mostly with the fans, though there are those of us who are fortunate enough to have our thoughts published. I happen to find myself in this position, and we do bands and fans a disservice by not offering up our most authentic selves in succumbing to hype and the pressure of PR companies.
You want to talk about fake news?? The music industry is 90% fake news, maybe more. Putting forth our honest, authentic and thoughtful reflections on an album is largely a lost art. You’ll see reviewers saying things like “If you haven’t heard this album, you’re living under a rock, people.” No. Fuck you. That’s blatantly manipulative. Lots of people cannot hear or not like a release for a wide variety of reasons, and they are entitled to their opinions and their dismissiveness. Those of us who have some sort of audience for our opinions, given our positions of power, it’s up to us to respect the tastes and opinions of others. If you think that I live under a rock because I don’t worship an album that you do, fuck you. Seriously, fuck you. Own your fucking opinion as just that – you’re not the do all and end all. You’re one small person with questionable tastes and an asserted opinion, in a veritable ocean of people with tastes and opinions. What I say about Raw Rock Fury is simply my opinion, take it or leave it. Any reviewer who asserts otherwise, you should rightly tell them to fuck off. Your opinion is just as important as mine, if not more so. People just publish my opinion, because I feel empowered to speak it. You should feel equally empowered. Seriously. If you’re passionate and articulate enough, someone will publish you. That’s my high dream, that every one of you that reads this review goes out and writes their own. Your opinion is vitally important, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a shitbag.
With all that said….
From my perspective, when a band releases a promising debut, the natural next step is to write a stellar sophomore album. That’s the make or break point for me. From where I stand, Ecstatic Vision have not delivered a knockout punch with their second album. Quite the opposite. I’m trying to think about how I can best express this.
I went to the movies with a good friend yesterday. We were both making comments about action movies and how banal they’ve become, how they lack substance, how directors have forsaken the art of pacing, and how these movies just rely on special effects and vapid over stimulation. Then we talked about how Hollywood science fiction movies are now basically constructed around a decent sci-fi concept that rapidly descends into a mindless action movie. See above for how that turns out. Still, people love that shit. It’s not for me. Have you ever seen 2001: A Spacey Oddity?? Do you still even have the attention span to watch it again? Do it, as a personal favor to me, not that I’m deserving. Do it for yourself then. It can’t hurt. Maybe you can’t do it. That’s sad.
Watch how there’s just a goddamn blank black screen with some of the most iconic film scoring of all time for the first five minutes. That’s it. Watch how slow and deliberate every single scene is revealed to us. It gives you time to think about what’s really happening, and more importantly, about the implications of what’s really happening, and what’s going to happen next. Then think about the conclusion, how ridiculous of a psychedelic, sensuous delight that we’re treated to!! Think about how climactic of an ending that is, and how it contrasts with the deliberate pacing of the beginning.
It’s like sex; all good art should be like good sex. Seriously. That’s why sex is so awesome. Great songs should be like great sex. Granted, there’s different kinds of songs, and different kinds of sex. Some sex is extremely one dimensional. This album is extremely one dimensional.
Ecstatic Vision’s music certainly has a primal, sexual appeal. That’s what I liked about their debut. It’s like that first time you hook up with someone, and you’re thinking, “Damn….that was pretty good, things are just going to get better from here.” After you hang out with this particularly special person and discuss it a bit, the next time y’all are together, they just bombard you with the most climactic techniques of your last encounter, rather than exploring the subtleties. The sex doesn’t turn out better; they’ve forgotten about the pacing and dynamics that made your first encounter so special, yet they think that they’re the shit when it comes to matters that happen between the sheets. They’re missing the point. I’m not going to expound on what that point is, because I trust that every one of you reading this has had a similar experience. Perhaps I’m wrong. I’m often wrong. If you haven’t experienced this, seriously….get yourself out more.
This is what their record company says about the album: “ ‘Raw Rock Fury’ is a raucous mix of troglodyte Detroit rock, soothing Krautian moto, filthy Beefheartian blues, and Hawkwindian primal world heavy psych!” I’m not going to disagree with any of this, it’s all true. It’s true in the same sense that Obi-Wan tells Luke that he didn’t lie to him because his spin on the whole Anakin/Vader situation was that he’d told him the truth, from a certain point of view. A record company’s point of view is based around selling records. I’ve told you what my point of view is, and I’m not even completely sure what it’s based around. Reconcile the two accounts of the album. Then, most importantly, take it in from your own point of view, and form your own conclusions.