Communic are a three-piece band formed in Norway back in 2003. The band comprising of Oddleif Stensland (vocals/guitars), Erik Mortensen (bass) and Tor Atle Andersen (drums) have recorded 5 albums previously and are now about to release their sixth called Hiding From The World (out Friday 20 November on AFM Records).
It is a dark album, with the main themes of death and what we leave behind as a legacy. As Oddleif says in the press pack “I wrote the songs as though my life could end tomorrow, that this could be my legacy. Life is unpredictable and we don’t know what is around the corner (a drunk truck driver texting/on his phone?) however there are still traces of hope within“. He describes the songs as the “most epic” they have written.
Musically it is a mix of progressive, power/thrash metal with plenty of light and shade. From quiet moments of acoustic guitar to monstrous blast beats the album tells its stories. It is one of those albums which slowly pulls you in. The moments of change take their time on the whole, themes regularly revisited with just slight alterations. Apart from one short musical interlude of around a minute (“Soon To Be“), all the songs are over 6 minutes and a couple are on the 10-minute mark making it around an hour of listening.
The Songs Examined:
Opener “Plunder Of Thoughts” has an Eastern vibe before an early Metallica style riff crashes in. From there it settles into its groove. With the lyrics focussed on internal thoughts, worries and anxieties. There is a mix of the afore-mentioned Metallica at the thrashier moments whilst having a Nevermore sound probably due to the vocal style/sound of Oddleif being similar to the late Warrel Dane. There is a call and refrain section where the backing vocals flit in between the lead lines. The music matches the darkness of the words. Tor gets to batter the hell out of his drumkit, fast and furious style near the end of the song as well.
“Hiding From The World” starts with the statement “let me hide from the world today” before asking the question “how long will it take for someone to care?” It has a mellow start but soon heavies up where he sings how he has never “dared to tell anyone about my curse… they will never understand“. He has quite a deep resonance to his voice which is soothing whilst being powerful. There are moments of theatre within the song, like an operetta. It drops down nicely allowing the vocal to almost be isolated before the guitar solo comes in. The “close my eyes” part is helped along with a Metallica style riff.
“My Temple Of Pride” is the first single and the video is at the bottom of the review. It is one of the tracks that vocally is in Nevermore territory. It has a good solid heavy riff at points. Melodically strong, it sounds quite upbeat despite the words. Check it out below! “Face In The Crowd” starts with a fuzzy bass (it hinted at “Headlong Flight” by Rush whilst not being that, more a stylistic thing than the same melody) before kicking in with an excellent riff. It is a real headbanger. Again a touch of mid-era Metallica. Oh and Tor throws in some fine fills and pounding machine gun driven rhythms.
The longest song on the album and in my view the absolute highlight is the 10 minute “Born Without A Heart” which takes its time, slowly weaving its way through a range of moods and pace, drawing the listener in with plaintiff cries. The construction as well as delivery is exquisite. The song opens quietly with Oddleif expressing how lost and confused he is but hopes that via his art he can “find a way to describe how I feel“. The chorus is strong and emotional with a melody that has a hook that sinks deep into the listener. The imagery is well described as in lyrics such as “like wild horses roaring through my haunted sleep” and “the trenches of my doom“. There are a few riffs and all of them are pretty strong and flow into each other seamlessly. Brilliant track all round.
“Scavenger’s Await” is a mix of Metallica and galloping Iron Maiden riffs. Probably the thrashiest song which only really drops down at the chorus asking “where did my life go?”. It comes in pounding drums and riff-heavy and doesn’t often let up. There are a couple of sweet-sounding riffs that come and go throughout. Lyrically he is looking at his life and what will remain as he says “soon I will leave this burning world, a pile of dirt I leave behind, my legacy chiselled on some cheap old stone“. That and memories for those left behind. Dark words but musically still quite uplifting. It is a strange combination that seems to work very well.
The last 2 songs kind of blend together, the aforementioned “Soon To Be” into the last song “Forgotten“. Both continue the musical theme set up in “Born Without A Heart“. “Forgotten” starts with the lyrics “there have been times when I’ve been mad, there have been times I have made you cry, been times I’ve done you harm, those times may never be forgotten“. It feels like an apology for mistakes made to a loved one whilst going on remind that person that there were times “I’ve been kind, held you tight, made you laugh” and emphasizing that those times seem to already be “long forgotten“. All he wants is both sides of his personality and his actions remembered the same.
As you can tell it is a reflective piece with music to match especially in the guitar solos. The song builds as he gets more anguished, trying to get the other person to at least try and remember the good times. Before it is too late to speak or communicate. The tenderness gives way to despair as he sees the futility in his request. Along with “Born Without A Heart” this is the best song here. Lyrically and thematically this blends impeccably with the music and leaves you drained yet fulfilled.
This is for me the strongest album Communic have recorded. It sounds fantastic and all the players play their parts perfectly. There are plenty of solid riffs and lilting melodies that weave in and out throughout the album making it glide smoothly as it tells its story. Well worth checking out especially if they are a band who may have passed you by. For those who are already fans this I think will become your favourite Communic album.
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