"They have pulled out all stops and left nothing in the tank to create something very special."
Strange name for a progressive rock/metal band, but don’t let that worry you. If you open yourself up and let it in, into your heart and your psyche, you’ll find this album to be quite superb, a bold and adventurous statement from an irresistibly forward-thinking Danish ensemble.
Not a huge name in Australia (hopefully this record will change that), you can trace Cold Night For Alligators' history back to the late 2000s, although without becoming a serious concern until the mid-2010s. And on this, their third full-length release, they have pulled out all stops and left nothing in the tank to create something very special.
With a sound that’s immensely difficult to pin down (their pressers describe them as ‘metalcore’, and they’ve also been described as ‘djent’, both of which are actually wildly inaccurate, on this album anyway), this band reel out ten extraordinarily varied and dynamic tracks to complete an album that is a melodic whirlwind, a theatrical aural experience, an immersive musical journey across challenging but ear-pleasing soundscapes. To achieve this, in part, as stated they have thrown everything at it. All manner of instrumentation beyond the guitar-bass-drums-voice paradigm has been utilised here, from the brief but cathartic saxophone solo in No Connection, to the gospel-esque voices during Worn Out Mannequin and the epic closer Hindsight, to the regular use of keys and strings (eg. Water) to add a sweet layer of symphony to the setting, and they do so with seamless and convincing effectiveness.
However, all the fancy instrumentation in the world cannot conceal sub-par songwriting of course, and here it is used merely to enhance the listening experience of songs that are titanium-strength and uber-memorable to start with.
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And it’s not just the non-standard instrumentation that lends the album its startlingly dynamic sheen, it’s the sheer variety inherent in the 10 tracks on offer here. It gets heavy when it feels the need to (for example, the closing moments of opener Behind Curtains, and check out the way it leaps out at you, out of the blue in amongst said gospely vocals during Worn Out Mannequin), although it far from relies on crunching heaviness to convey its listenability. It also becomes soft, wistful and sensitive at times (Adjust), several tracks have a real epic quality to them (both the aforementioned Hindsight and Water), it has soulful and poppy moments, and much more. At the same time, it still somehow manages to be a highly listenable, cohesive and coherent piece of work, end to end.
Special mention must be given to the voice and vocals of frontman Johan Pederson. In a similar manner to the vocalist from underrated American act Four Stroke Baron (who released this scribe’s #1 album of last year), his voice is quite unique (not that they sound alike, just that they both stick out as being very different and unexpected in a heavy setting), arguably drawing influence as much from soul and pop sources as from metal frontmen and women, and he nails the clean, soulful moments with as much aplomb as he does the throat-ripping screams and howls (which really only appear for effect, as opposed to carrying the entire performance).
This band’s sound is damnably difficult to categorise, if such things are important, but if you dig the likes of TesseracT, Vola, The Contortionist, Sleep Token, Haken, Leprous et al, you will adore this. It’s quite a long list of similar acts, but at this point it’s necessary to give the uninitiated potential fan an inkling of this band’s style.
All up, The Hindsight Notes is a massive and extremely pleasant and welcome surprise, and an early candidate for album of the year honours.