‘Utopia’, Norwegian darkened industrialists Gothminister’s fifth album, is a concept work based around the concept of ‘Mr Jekyll And Dr Hyde’ – with, on this occasion, the inspiration coming from band leader Bjørn Alexander Brem and the duality of his existence as a lawyer by day and heavy metal musician by night… a double life which, according to the storyline, drives him insane as it becomes impossible for him to separate reality from imagination. The songs also draw in more modern horrorlore, such as zombies, and the apocalyptic prophecies which were supposed to herald the end of the world earlier this year…
It’s a tale which has been visited and revisited many, many times – and, to be honest, by storytellers much more convincing, effective, eloquent and original than Brem and his bandmates (drummer Chris Dead and guitarists Icarus and Turbo Natas), as, sadly – and I really did want to like this album – ‘Utopia’ is more akin to one of those B-rated disaster movies they screen in the middle of the afternoon on those second-rate 24 movie channels than the behemothic box office blockbuster it aspires to be.
Ploughing a furrow somewhere between the powerhouse industrialism of Rammstein, the dark undulations of Children Of Bodom, the nightmarish vision of Rob Zombie and the operatic pretensions of Nightwish, it’s major problem is that it is all very samey, with many of the tracks interchangeable with each other, both lyrically and musically. It’s other problem is that it starts and ends strongly – as if Brem knew where his story was beginning, and where it was going to, but had no clear idea of how to get between the two points: it is at either end of the album that the strongest parts – the strong but repetitive opening couplet of ‘Someone Is After Me’ and the title track and the freakish ‘Horrorshow’ dominate the first third, while the closing duo of the excellent ‘Raise The Dead’ and the complex and entertaining ‘Boogeyman’ finish proceedings off with a rarely glimpsed flair – but the middle is just boring and forgettable filler. A pity, because I did enjoy the bits I enjoyed…
8. All Alone
11. Raise The Dead
‘Utopia’ is out on AFM Records now.
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