Three years after their shattering album debut “Pheromones,” the Norwegian metal chimera Animal Alpha is back with their sophomore. More spontaneous than the debut, they claim, and closer to the unique live expression they are famed for (which resembles the opening sequence of a Bond movie: war-like action; armour and missiles interspersed with subtleties, wit, charm and a lot of surprises) “You Pay For The Whole Seat But You’ll Only Need The Edge” (sic.) is also special in terms of the launch strategy to be employed.
Animal Alpha and their label Racing Junior have decided to take Radiohead’s notion of fan confidence one step further. The “pay-what-you-like” ploy was revolutionary when the superstars employed it, but the crucial moment of choice was always confined to the privacy of your personal computer. AA have decided to challenge the fans in an altogether more straightforward manner: by letting them pay what they like for the album, albeit face to face with the band.
This is an audacious and interesting move, it must be conceded: much like the band and much like the new record judging by the first excerpts released. “You Pay..” is even denser and more aggressive than “Pheromones,” and lyrically it apparently revolves around the themes of schizophrenia, murder and standing alone against everyone. This is metal of the heavy sort, reminiscent of early Soundgarden perhaps, or black Sabbath of performance enhancing (rather than numbing) drugs. And on top of it all, like some female Napoleon on PCP, singer Agnete screams and bites and ushers the armour-plated animal forwards. AA is an act like no other and therefore challenging to describe. When they first entered the limelight a few years back we wrote thus of the band:
In fact they seem a lot like a moon rocket during its ignition sequence; awesome, and still not fully grasped by the onlookers. No listener is prepared for the onslaught, and bands of the same performing vein, hitherto of cutting edge notoriety, all of a sudden seem at complete standstill, like some African sling at the arrival of the Maxim Gun.
Woven into the heavy metal there is “fin de siecle”, 20s cabaret, futuristic firestorms, drugged lullaby, war and enlightenment. It is an awesome frenzy, not least due to the performance of the matchless singer Agnete Kjølsrud, who navigates this Flying Dutchman like some possessed, five-voiced, female Ahab.
Discovering Animal Alpha is the kind of experience that caters to the human desire to be a messenger, to be the one who knows and passes on.
Go see this band: it will satisfy your craving for “a life less ordinary”.
Many, many have heeded this call since Pheromones in 2005. And AA have blazed a live trail that is still smoking both in Norway and across the European continent where they have ignited many of the festival colossuses. In all AA is an incredibly energized entity, with activities and bold visions always verging on the seemingly insane. And this is of course the essence of their music and thus of their allure.
As the tile indicates, “You Pay For The Whole Seat But You’ll Only Need The Edge” is not a record you will be sitting back to enjoy. It is more likely to set your mind on invading a country, murdering the pope or something of that nature.
It will be out on January 28th, followed by a Noregian tour.
Listen to AA tracks here: