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RKTKN #2 Nick Hutchings , May 12th, 2015 11:23

Not since Evil Superstars helpfully informed us that 'Satan Is In My Ass' has such a maelstrom of malevolence erupted from Belgium. The phonetically and evocatively titled Raketkanon are the captains of a noise that lurches like the peaks and troughs of an angry North Sea.

Being endorsed and engineered by Steve Albini sadly does not always offer a guarantee on quality, though one given is that he will capture the spirit of a band playing live. While many of his recordings have featured crisp readings of the rhythm section and cathartic vocal yelps, this second Raketkanon album is an altogether different proposition. There is nothing sparse about RKTKN #2. This is truly viscose stuff, like an oil spill spewing from the heightened gag reflex of a world turned bad.

The Jesus Lizard song 'Boilermaker' offers lyrics that could be metaphorical for this whole album: "In molasses, a fly in molasses, nasty stick shit holds it down". The black gloop of the opening three songs is all enveloping. Imagine if a bar-room bating Boyd Rice was playing synth for Brainiac, or if erstwhile Touch & Go band Enon made a cover album of The Terror by The Flaming Lips to give them a taste of their own medicine, and you may be somewhere close to the cyclic seasickness contained on RKTKN #2

Over waves of up tempo, downtuned riffs, the reverberating vocals of Pieter-Paul Devos caterwaul across the top, like a huge rock skimming the water and heading straight for a striking blow on your temple. At his poppiest, he does a great Mike Patton; at his rawest it's more like the ashtray mouthed Mule frontman PW Long.

All the song titles are European sounding first names, which suggest a litany of cautionary tales based on a rogue's gallery of characters. It's not all macabre though, there is a sense of fun trying to escape mountains of gaffa tape, evident in the exhalation and exhortation of the theremin on third track 'Suzanne' which is a moment of light relief. Given the heaviness of all that surrounds it, it may as well be a swanee whistle.

Meanwhile the video to album opener 'Florent' features the band doing some devilish dad dancing. Experiencing this video is three-fold, it demonstrates that the band have a neatly attuned sense of humour and of self, but a perhaps unwanted byproduct is the dancing draws attention to the similarity of the song's melody with that of 'The Safety Dance' by Men Without Hats.

It's not all riotous though, by the time we reach the high tide of the album, a subtler side shines through with 'Mathilde', and album finale 'Hanz' is truly monolithic. Despite being laden with doom, the fact that its also laced with sarcasm means that the truly heavy tone of RKTKN #2 is to be enjoyed, not endured.