- Nostalgia Factor
When I was handed this album to listen to, all I was told was that the band is Norwegian and that the album was right up my alley. However, I have somewhat of a diverse alley, so I still wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I figured since The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band is from Norway, there was likely to be some sort of black metal influence, and that the album would likely range from somewhat to extremely dark in atmosphere.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. This album forced me to reconsider all of my preconceived notions about bands from Norway. These guys weren’t wearing corpsepaint and the album was about as far from black metal as one can get (apart from maybe Justin Bieber…or dubstep). In fact, it wasn’t even metal at all!
After my first time through the album, I felt the title Smorgasbord to be quite appropriate for the variety that was present on the album. It wasn’t an all over the place, genre-hopping variety like Estradasphere, but rather a plethora of influences from the pre-prog/psychedelic rock spectrum. Elements from Santana, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and other artists were seamlessly integrated. As one would guess from such influences, the song structures tend to favor blues rock and pop elements rather than the classical and jazz influence present in a lot of other prog (especially prog of the 70s variety).
Besides a myriad of easily detectable influence, there is also a nice variety of instrumentation from piano, organ, violin, saxophone, flute, and even a sitar (most likely a sitar patch, but I’m not an expert) that adds a great depth to the album’s sound.
Speaking of the album’s sound, the production is fantastic. It’s like if The Beatles had recorded an album with modern equipment. It still has that classic sound, but with more clarity. No instrument is lost in the mix.
All of the musicianship is top-notch, but not super-technical, which is only proper for a band that derives so much of its sound from the pre-prog/pyschedelic rock era. I was especially impressed with the drumming, which had a jazzy feel and always seemed to be perfectly suited to each moment in each song. I can see how the vocals might have a Geddy Lee polarizing effect for some, though I personally enjoyed them.
Overall, the album was excellent, and all the elements combined to give a happy (the aptly-titled track Happy is a great example of the generally upbeat nature of the music), nostalgic feeling. I have often listened to my Beatles or Jefferson Airplane/Starship albums and thought, “Why doesn’t anyone write songs like this anymore?” or “I wonder what this would sound like if it were recorded today?” Well, I no longer have to wonder because both of those questions were answered quite awesomely by this album. At least one band still writes such songs and modern recording techniques suit them quite well. That band is The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band and you should check them out.