Like it or hate it, one has to give credit to the music scene of Scandinavia. The sheer variety that has entered itself into the consciousness of popular metal and rock music is overwhelming, from obvious greats like Emperor, Darkthrone, and Mercyful Fate, to melodic death metal acts such as Arch Enemy and Carcass, to musicians even outside of the metal spectrum like The Hives, Jaga Jazzist, and (unfortunately, to some) ABBA.
It’s no surprise, therefore, to have yet another band trying do new things to the already-established music scene. The band in question here is the duo Pil & Bue (Norwegian for “Arrow and Bow”), with their new record Forget the Past, Let’s Worry About The Future. Pil & Bue’s sound lies within the vast expanse between progressive rock and metal, and, is, paradoxically, both extremely singular yet influenced very obviously by acts such as Sigur Rós and Karnivool, and basic garage and stoner rock bands; it’s as if Pil & Bue are a gumbo of sorts—they are more than the sum of their influences. Guitarist and vocalist Petter Carlsen and drummer Aleksander Kostopoulos work together with some great chemistry to make an album that grooves and adds progressive elements without completely abandoning a pop-infused sound.
But despite the talents that Kostopoulos and Carlsen have together, Forget the Past lacks in solid songwriting; instead the songs sound pieced together; there are some interesting bits of riffs, but they do not make one solid, cohesive song. The album as a whole does not provoke a second listen. Songs like “Fire” and “Afterlife” have moments of progressive buildup that are reminiscent of Rosetta and Tool—the guitar sounds mystical at points, and Kostopoulos admittedly fantastic drumming builds anticipation—yet each buildup only leads to disappointment; any cool bridges and riffs end in ultra-poppy, out-of-place choruses and verses.
It doesn’t help either that Carlsen’s voice is a bit alienating. One can hear the obvious influences of Sigur Rós’s Jónsi Birgisson in Carlsen’s vocals, but instead of using that influence to his advantage, to exact cool and calming feelings to verses and choruses, Carlsen straddles the fence between yelling and singing, which ends up sounding a bit desperate.
Forget the Past does have some plus moments, however. Kostopoulos, again, is nothing short of incredible on percussion. The man has the mind of a Jon Theodore or an Abe Cunningham, but the execution of a Danny Carey or a Brann Dailor. The auxiliary instrumentation he utilizes, too, adds a depth and freshness to each of his parts, and his skill with grooving lines are sublime. Credit must also be given to the production, with Carlsen’s guitar tone combining a fuzz and a hardness that’s not usually heard outside of White Stripes or Queens of the Stone Age recordings.
But, overall, the outcome is severely lacking. Although one can tell that Pil & Bue indeed have talent as a duo, they do not yet have the songwriting skills to make a truly great album. The choruses seem out of place with the general feel of each song, and, again, Carlsen’s voice does little to help. For only the most hardcore fans of progressive rock and metal this is an album that’s worth at least a listen, but it’s not worth much else.
Pil & Bue – Forget the Past, Let’s Worry About the Future gets…