John Frum

A Stirring In The Noos

Written by: MIN on 31/08/2017 10:25:12

Although not quite as prophesied as the return of the mythical John Frum himself (fabled to bring wealth and prosperity to the island of Tanna, Vanuatu during World War II), John Frum, the band, has nonetheless been expected by the world’s metal community for some time now. Consisting of members of The Faceless (Derek Rydquist, vocals), John Zorn (Matt Hollenberg, guitar), Intensus (Eli Litwin, drums) and The Dillinger Escape Plan (Liam Wilson, bass), the band’s debut LP “A Stirring in the Noos” has been in the making for six years, but now it’s finally arrived. Once you get to hear the album in its entirety, it becomes pretty obvious as to just why its conception has taken so long: “A Stirring in the Noos” is an enormous vortex of technical death metal that sucks in elements of both black, progressive and even psychedelic. It’s a record where every little detail is so finely tuned and mastered that all emotion and room to move has been vacuumed from the dimension it’s come from, resulting in a record that is so brutal and relentlessly heavy that it leaves little room to breathe.

The record’s first two tracks, “Presage of Emptiness” and “Pining Light” are pretty straightforward, yet highly effective. The former is primarily driven by a fast, bouldering drum-pattern, which remains throughout most of the song with slight variations. All the while, both the guitar and bass do their own thing, but simultaneously managing to stay true to the direction paved from the start. “Pining Light”, however, feels more like the “choice cut”-single, if one where to pick such a thing: the drive from the album-opener remains, but the song is shorter and has more tempo-changes to keep things interesting, where parallels to the music of Ulcerate and Gorguts are evident. Pummeling drums and raging guitars throttle forward while the bass creates depth in the mix and the bellowing growls and screams spew death in every direction, only interrupted by the spontaneous breaks of sweeping riffs or haunting licks.

The album’s first real detour arrives during the third song, the nine-minute long “Memory Palace”. After the first two minutes have quietly mesmerized the listener into a tranquil state of mind, the rest of the band suddenly joins in for a slow, crushing tempo that recalls SUMAC’s latest album ”What One Becomes” more than the aforementioned comparisons, mostly due to the synchronicity of the rhythm-section with Rydquist’s growling placed confidently on-top of it. But suddenly, after almost six minutes, the guitar picks up the pace and suddenly rattles itself into maximum overdrive, much resembling the feeling of a train on the verge of going off the rails – it’s a rare moment on the record where John Frum sounds like a strange amalgamation made up from parts of Plebeian Grandstand and Rush anno 1976, but God damn it, it works!

While all of the material presented on “A Stirring in the Noos” is highly impressive, it’s hard not to become exhausted once you reach the album’s second half. Although “He Come” – an instrumental piece lead by the impeccable drumming of Litwin – is one of the record’s definite highlights, the remaining songs tend to blend into a murk. Besides the songs recommended further down on the page, too many songs are so heavy and devoid of identity that no matter which order they’re listened to in, they remain somewhat anonymous. As previously mentioned, the members in John Frum are fiercely talented, and none of the songs are bad by any means, but once the record’s over, it’s hard to recall the last ten minutes in detail. Hardcore fans of heavy, technical death metal will probably lap the entire record up, while the rest of us will be content with the standouts. Alas, whatever your expectations might have been prior to the arrival of John Frum, I find it hard to see how anyone could be completely unsatisfied with the outcome.


Download: Pining Light, Memory Palace, He Come
For The Fans Of: Gorguts, Ulcerate, Intensus, Car Bomb, SUMAC
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.05.2017
Relapse Records

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