Scene and Heard – CCCIX: Violet – Blacknoise ft. Maria Skaaren (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

29313871_195408037902593_4789006019575414784_nI have to be honest, when I saw the name and the geographic location of the band I did jump to some conclusions as to what to expect from this track. The last thing I need in my mind’s eye is a load of black clad Norwegians doing their best to look tough and demonic whilst sounding like the girl from The Exorcist (post-possession) over some excessive use of double kick drum and unnecessary guitar showboating. Thankfully, although Blacknoise certainly come from that corner of the music scene, Violet is actually much better than the conclusions that I drew.

Yes, there are some screamo vocals going on, but not many, the song being led by the much more palatable classic rock meets classical diva tones of Maria Skaarsen, which makes the play off between her dulcet vocals, the gruffer male harmonies and the fleeting troll impressions much easier to take. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get the point of those gurning, gargling grunts…but at least it comes with a lyric video in case you do want to decipher or even learn the words.

Musically the song is on much safer ground, combining the same classical interludes and sweeping cinematics, symphonic stylings and byzantine musical machinations that the likes of Nightwish or Evanescence were so adept at. Such music is built of musical high drama which when done right can be breath-taking, though all too often it falls into the realms pretentious, preposterous, bluntness and bombastic. Thankfully, I can report that Violet falls pretty much into the former category delivering a series of dynamic shifts and sonic crescendos, hard driven deliveries and ethereal vocals, walking that fine line between the symphonic and the super-charged that such music has to deftly juggle to work.

And work it does, the guitar breaks are great, driving the song for the most part rather than adding unnecessary top end soloing to feed the ego, the tsunami back beats and bass growls provide a solid platform for everything else to sit on, and as previously mentioned the different grades and tones of vocals add unexpected dimensions to a style of song that thrives on conflicting textures. Okay, we have heard this sort of thing before, but it often isn’t constructed this well and apart from a few Nordic names who have made a career on such big sounds, this sort of music generally gets the better of the artist behind it. But not this time, Violet really works. (I’m still not sure of the screamo vocals though but in the scheme of things, it is a small criticism.)

So we have heard it before but sometimes it is enough just to re-invent the wheel especially if the wheel in question allows you to open up the throttle and take a white-knuckle joyride through the side streets and alleyways of rock history before unashamedly heading down the highway to follow in the tyre marks of previous iconic musical suicide machines. Or something…I’m not great with analogy.

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