"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Dunderbeist - "Black Arts & Crooked Tails" (CD)

Dunderbeist - "Black Arts & Crooked Tails" CD cover image

"Black Arts & Crooked Tails" track listing:

1. La Guerre du Feu
2. Through The Peephole
3. Fear & Loathing
4. Lucifer Eyes
5. The Worst Sentence
6. Shields Aligned
7. More Me
8. Winter Past
9. 8 Crows And Counting
10. Hum Hum

Reviewed by on April 21, 2012

"So what if the band comes perilously close to feeling like a cover band every now and then?"

With a little bit of Alice In Chains here and a dash of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie there, it's a little hard to find much that feels original — or like a coherent whole — on Dunderbeist's "Black Arts & Crooked Tails." With that in mind, it's hard to dislike an album as well-performed as this one.

Much of the reason for the haphazard feel of the album comes from the fact that it's a compilation of the best of this Norwegian band's English-language material from its previous four albums. Songs like the strings-and-horns-laden "Shields Aligned" or "Winter Past," with its Marilyn Manson, circa "The Beautiful People" feel might have fit in better on the albums they were originally recorded for, but here, they stick out like a sore thumb amid a whole bunch of heavy, mid-tempo tracks.

Giving credit where credit is due, vocalists Torgrim Torve and Asmund Snortheim never fail to impress, with the chorus of "8 Crows And Counting" and the stark beginning of the excellent Alice In Chains grunge of "Lucifer Eyes" especially standing out (this track features the best whistling in heavy metal since GNR's "Patience," if you ask me).

Guitarists Ronny Flissundet and Fredrik Ryberg are generally good, with moments of excellence in "Hum Hum" and the opening track, "La Guerre du Feu (Lord Of The Flames)."

Even with its scattershot feel, the album features only one track that really stands out in a bad way. "More Me" features an almost-rap cadence and a chorus that simply doesn't work at all.

The disc is well-produced, with bassist Kristian Liljan, drummer John Birkeland Hansen and percussionist Ole Alexander Liserud having ample room in the mix.

On one hand, it's easy to complain that Dunderbeist doesn't bring much by way of originality to "Black Arts & Crooked Tails." On the other, it's hard to find fault with the band's chops and songwriting. So what if the band comes perilously close to feeling like a cover band every now and then?

Highs: "La Guerre du Feu (Lord Of The Flames)," "Hum Hum" and "Lucifer Eyes"

Lows: "More Me"

Bottom line: Alt-metal that makes up for what it lacks in originality with excellent musicianship.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)