According to the press release, concept album “Kleptocracy is looking around and suddenly understanding what Orwell meant. Kleptocracy is mind control told by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. Kleptocracy is the distaste ensuing and the attempt to destroy all, but it is also the final realization, just like an oxymoron, to be who you want to destroy.” What the words omit to mention is that the new album from Italian band Steel Flowers is also one fascinating and increasingly compelling proposition. Sculpted on a fusion of hard rock and alternative metal, to simplify things, the ten track incitement entices the imagination with an unpredictable bedlam of flavours and styles woven into a theatrical canvas. Initially it challenges ears and thoughts with that same off-kilter tapestry but over time builds into a lingering persuasion which draws keen attention time and time again. Kleptocracy will not be for everyone but if the thought of System Of A Down meets Turbonegro meets Dog Fashion Disco appeals then this just might be a thrilling way to end the year on.
Formed in 2002 by vocalist Riz, the Milan band quickly hit the live scene before releasing a series of EPs over time. Line-up changes ensued before Steel Flowers settled down to record and release debut album 12 Tales From The Life Of Mr Someone in 2009. Described as a mix of hard and street rock, its well-received uncaging led to the band appearing at Faenza’s MEI, an event for independent labels that same year. 2011 saw the band begin work on Kleptocracy and the emergence of a new direction and invention in the band’s sound as alternative metal influences, and more, began ripening within their imagination. Fair to say the fiercely diverse album had a troubled creation but finally it gets its unveiling via Red Cat Records to ultimately captivate and impress.
It opens with Oxymoron 4991 and an initial tempting of electronic mist conjured by Uzzo punctured by a moment of distorted vocals. There is a portentous edge to that first coaxing, one which ripens as guitars and rhythms bring forth their own dark hues, though within a few more haunting moments a warmer light and energy erupts to change the shade of the song again. The guitars of Alex and Adriano are soon dancing and flirting with ears whilst still providing darker drama to the broadening sonic narrative of the track. Once fully into its infectious stride, attention and appetite are enslaved by the song, thoughts similarly bewitched as it proceeds to slip from spicy grooves and niggly hooks into mellow harmonies and avant-garde twists. The vocals of Riz provide variety to match the sounds too, clean croons and gnarly roars offered in numerous ways and backed well from elsewhere within the band. It is fair to say, as the album, the track took time and a few plays to really click in ears and emotions, but straight away had them fully enticed and wanting to delve deeper into its warped adventure.
The dirtier rock ‘n’ roll of Pauper comes next, the feisty beats of drummer Kiry potent bait alongside the throaty tone of Yano’s bass. The latter soon reveals its swinging moves though, a funk infused revelry flushing through the song with a touch of Red Hot Chili Peppers to its colouring, though the earlier heavier elements still court these tangy exploits. It all helps fuel a quickly contagious proposition with a virulence matched in kind by that bred in the punk ‘n’ roll stomp of its successor I’ll Kick Your Ass. Straight away the song’s tenacious and tempestuous roar teases with a B-52s-esque groove which reappears throughout alongside Sex Pistol like hooks, both inflaming the raw and brawling heart of the excellent track.
Hallways Of Illusions serenades ears with its melodic flames and emotive textures next, it a gentle croon but with a fiery nature as, like all songs, it involves an array of creative spices and evolves with perpetual regularity, though not as dramatically as other proposals within Kleptocracy, such as Break My Blues with its intoxicating sonic liquor around prowling rhythms. Living up to its name in tone, the track is an enticing engagement though also not quite escaping the shadow of others like the following Tired And Bored. A great grizzled bassline sets the song up; a web of voices and guitar spun endeavour then wrapping ears as another funk inspired intent infests the rhythms and the hard/classic rock enterprise of the song. Again it is a track which needs time to blossom in thoughts but only heads to the providing of rich pleasure for the listener to embrace.
Through the psychotic character and vaudevillian heart of the outstanding Ruled By Evil Men and the infectious dystopian predation of Workin’ Monkey, the album hits a new plateau of persuasion, both tracks casting their own unique and engrossing theatres of sound and suggestion with the first of the pair the show stopper on the album.
Variety continues as an electronic enticing welcomes R.I.P. next, that brewing into a seventies seeded progressive metal narrative swinging from big thrills to smaller pleasures but always wrapping ears in thick tempting before making way for closing track Tank Man. The song ends the album on a more classic hard rock offering with a touch of Extreme meets Ugly Kid Joe to it; a last slice of rock ‘n’ roll maybe undulating in its riches but undoubtedly leaving satisfaction strong.
Kleptocracy is not without flaws, at times its invention taking songs away from their best assets, but Steel Flowers has certainly conjured a release that excites with the potential of bigger and bolder things ahead for good measure.
Kleptocracy is out now via Red Cat Records.
Pete RingMaster 10/12/2015
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/