RAZOR WIRE SHRINE is driven by the Rodler brothers: Brett, on drums; and Chris; on guitars and bass. Being brothers, I’m pretty sure they’ve jammed together quite a few times, and they have also joined numerous Progressive Rock/Metal outfits throughout the years, like MYTHOLOGIC and GRATTO. There is also the presence of an incredible guitarist by the name of Mike Ohm, who is a Jazz/Fusion player that graduated from M.I.T. There is enough talent on board to sink a couple of battleships in RAZOR WIRE SHRINE.
I guess you can guess what realm of Metal this is going to delve itself into. This is instrumental Progressive Metal/Rock that is extremely challenging to listen to and can (will) be described as pretentious self-indulgence by people that view albums like this as nothing but a bunch of musicians showing off their skill.
I cannot argue against the point that these guys have written a complex album that can be described as the musicians concentrating more on their skill that writing “songs”, partly because it would be impossible for me to convince you that this isn’t self-indulgent, and also because their display of skill on their respective instruments is their modus operandi.
So yea, if you don’t like extremely technical Instrumental Metal, “The Power Of Negative Thinking” isn’t for you. For those of you who are willing to give these guys a chance, the album is best described as a mixture of Fusion, Jazz, Funk, Metal and Progressive Rock being played by musicians who want to go against nearly every single Rock convention that has existed since the genre’s inception.
For starters, the band uses a LOT of odd-timed signatures and shifts the meter on numerous occasions, eliminating any steady beat that remains constant as the song goes on. There is also the use of polyrhythms in the drums, where there are two or more independent beats going on at once, and the drums are constantly shifting against and with the rhythm of the music.
The guitar players are also content on not following typical convention. I’m not just talking about the guitars playing two independent melodic lines that are intertwining sometimes and completely clashing and dissonant with each other, but the lead guitarist also uses a lot of chromatic notes when soloing, creating moments when it feels like he’s trying to screw around with the head of the listener by adding in atonality for a few seconds while returning to the something more organized and musical. It takes an amazing amount of skill to pull this off, but it works wonderfully to create more tension in an already strained and stressed slab of music.
Of course, it’s not a constant barrage of noise. The songs are built so they flow, so RAZOR WIRE SHRINE starts their songs off with just hints at how it will progression, and then they make things go crazier and more complex as the songs build to their eventual zenith.
If I want to draw a comparison, I’d say that RWS sounds like an instrumental DREAM THEATER where they decided to jam and flesh out their weirder parts while on steroids. As mentioned before, the music is pretty self-indulgent, but you can tell that the band is using their talent not to “show off”, but to write songs that contain a lot of “showing off”.
This is experimental and exists outside the realm of convention, where most bands do not thread out of fear of alienating their crowd. RWS, however, does not shy away from experimentation and trying to rip apart what is considered to be “normal” in this sub-genre of Metal. We are the better for it.
Check this out!
(Online April 14, 2009)