Posted by Nick Skog on Friday, December 6, 2013 Under: Album Reviews
From: Black Phoenix Rising
Published: December 1, 2013
Stroszek's early works have been unavailable for some time, so with the "Wild Years Of Remorse And Failures" double album release from Hypnotic Dirge Records we see some of these works remastered and made available once more. It includes the debut album "Songs Of Remorse" on the first disc (titled Remorse), then the album "Life Failures Made Music" as well as the EP "The Wild Hunt" on the second (titled Failures). Added to this are two cover versions of songs by Dick Curless and Townes Van Zandt, so already it seems like this represents a pretty good deal for Stroszek fans. However, as I'm guessing many reading this review are likely going to be unfamiliar with Stroszek we also want to know how well the music on offer here stands up on it's own, and also if it's going to be of interest to newcomers as well as existing fans.
Admittedly this is a bit of a departure from the usual tastes of many of our members, while Stroszek's founding member Claudio Alcara also plays in black metal band Frostmoon Eclipse he's taken a completely different path with Stroszek, offering dark folk and acoustic sounds for the most part with injections of heaviness from time to time with electric guitars, exploring darker shades of music in a much calmer and more subdued way. Don't be fooled into thinking Stroszek doesn't have teeth though, while the music is mostly acoustic led the electric guitar is used frequently and to extremely good effect, kicking frequent bursts of energy into the music and acting like a statement of defiance from one burdened by the weight of life but flatly refusing to lay down and quit. While there's a strong feel of despondency and fatigue throughout the works offered here there's also much hope and a determined fighting spirit present too, this music draws out a wide range of of emotions and flatly refuses to play by anyone else's rules or be bound by any genre conventions, it simply exists to express the vision of its creator.
It's an emotional journey that Stroszek takes us on and is made all the more vivid by the fact that Claudio is an extremely gifted songwriter and musician, able to not only visualise his thoughts and feelings musically but also to express and perform them with great skill, creating beautiful haunting songs and melodies that evoke a broad spectrum of moods and feelings. What's obvious is that every song presented on each album has a reason for being here, there's nothing out of place, nothing wasted, indeed every note serves a purpose and serves to create a vivid musical vision that I'm in no doubt sounds exactly as Claudio intended. This is evident on the first disc but more so on the second, the overall style doesn't change drastically but with the "Life Failures Made Music" album in particular on the second disc we see a higher degree of confidence and the different elements that make up Stroszek's music explored a little more fully. Picking out highlights from any of the offerings here is something I'm finding extremely hard to do as I could pick any track at all to be honest, every one of them contributes something of its own and each is a highlight in its own right, parts that make up a much greater whole. There's no filler here or fat in need of trimming and even the new additions of the two cover songs fit perfectly well into the proceedings, hardly surprising as the artists in question have undoubtably been a key influence and Stroszek's take on the songs makes them a great addition to the collection.
This is music in it's purest form, a voice given to innermost feelings and thankfully it's an introspective journey that Stroszek has chosen to share with us. Fans will likely want to snap this up, for newcomers it serves as an excellent showcase of not only the deepest thoughts and emotions but also incredible musical talents in expressing those emotions in an extremely profound manner. As far as the appeal to rock or metal fans goes, as stated earlier it's not without teeth and there's enough heaviness here to satisfy, but it's best considered on its own terms in all honesty, and even the softer aspects are so weighted with feeling that it bring a different kind of heaviness to the table. Like all great music it's something that demands acceptance on its terms rather than yours, but if you're able to take it on those terms you'll find this collection an excellent introduction to an excellent artist.
Reviewed by: Paul Henderson
In : Album Reviews
Tags: stroszek wild years of remorse failures double-album compilation claudio alcara folk dark country acoustic rock melancholic townes van zandt