Sunday morning, I'm only half awake. A huge cup of coffee should take care of that problem. However, I completely forgot we bought coffee with and without caffeine. Still sleepy, I accidently selected the wrong pot. So coffee didn't help. Through my almost closed eyelids I see an email from Swedish progressive metal trio 'JZZBLK'. They want to present their latest album 'Welcome'. So I press 'play', not yet realizing that the term 'progressive' can mean just about anything. Mere minutes later I'm wide awake and in desperate need of a cigarette.
For JZZBLK, 'progressive metal' means "we can't decide on which style of metal we want to play so we'll do all of them". I know this phrase can sound a big negative but it's not, not at all. Borrowing from an enormous variety of metal bands, including (but not limited to) Faith No More, Napalm Death and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, JZZBLK creates a bizarre and unrelenting atmosphere. With complicated song structures, experimental guitar riffs and ruthless aggression these Swedes have definitely made a surprising album.
I wouldn't be surprised if JZZBLK is more influenced by acts like Frank Zappa than metal. The music is indeed very heavy and very 'metal', but it seems experimenting with their instruments is more important than trying to hold on to a musical genre. 'Kittens, Mice & Headless Chickens' is a perfect example of this urge to experiment. 'White Screen' is almost a noise-track, mainly used as a breather between the intense heaviness that follows.
My favourite track is '2ubstances'. It holds the thin line between post-rock and sludge metal but it too breathes the same grittiness and intensity as the other songs. On one hand this might be the most predictable song on the album but don't let this aspect fool you. This music can go in a totally different direction at any given point, leaving the listener confused and probably completely stunned. This album really does get better minute by minute and listen after listen. By the end of the second listen, I'm positive enough to consider myself a fan.
Another awesome aspect is the album cover, something I usually don't pay much attention to when writing a review. However, the CD comes in a jewel case with embroidery artwork by Märit Simonsson, band logo by Patrik Ylmefors (Moloken) and band photo by Edel Puntonet. This, along with the complicated and highly surprising music, makes this album very special and a real must-have for everyone who's not into "the regular shit". I'm going to smoke that cigarette now...