2+2 Reviews: Mother’s Day Weekend Edition (The Night Flight Orchestra, At the Gates, Kataan, Book of Wyrms)

Welcome to the Mother’s Day Weekend Edition of 2 + 2. I think every track here is PERFECT for every mom out there. At bare minimum, I expect every mom to jam hard to “White Jeans” from The Night Flight Orchestra, our first track to cover today. Stay tuned for tracks from Book of Wyrms, Kataan and At the Gates.

The Night Flight Orchestra – White Jeans

BH: If this song doesn’t make you want to put on a neon leotard for a workout, followed by a quick change into your finest pair of, well, white jeans for the evening, I don’t know what will.

I’ve been following The Night Flight Orchestra for a little while now, primarily because they have a terrific roster of metal musicians including Björn Strid of Soilwork and Sharlee D’Angelo of Arch Enemy. Check out my discussion of their album, Aeromantic, here:

They also have some of the catchiest AOR songs since Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” and Devo’s “Whip It”.

Tongue is firmly in cheek with this group.

It’s really a blast to see these musicians clearly having so much fun both in the songwriting and the music video they’ve made during the pandemic. It’s also clear they really enjoy this particular subgenre.

Even lyrically, this song in particular, fits perfectly for the time period they’re inspired by.

Here’s an excerpt of the chorus:

She wore white jeans
On the cover of a magazine
Now she’s standing here in front of me
White jeans, white jeans, white jeans

All I’m saying is this could have easily been in the film, WEIRD SCIENCE.

Anyhow, George, I’m curious what your take is on TNFO and their song “White Jeans”. Are you a fan of AOR or any of the synth-driven 80’s rock groups? Does this track remind you of any other songs?

GF: It’s funny, because as I was listening to this, I feel like it DID remind me of something very particular, but I just couldn’t recall it. They’re painting with a very particular set of 80s brushes for sure, and as you said in your comments, their tongue is firmly in their cheek.

That’s what I enjoyed most about this, actually: the fact that it allowed itself to be silly.

I love metal, and I always will, but when it allows itself to detour into something like this, something that’s self-aware, and fun, I’m all for it.

Re: 80s AOR and synth driven rock, that’s not necessarily something I’ve really made a great effort to explore. I’ve heard all of the standards that pop up on the radio, but I feel like the 80s stuff I enjoy tends to lean heavier towards the weird, or the new wave? When it comes to metal from that decade, Van Halen is great, I love Iron Maiden, those few first Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth albums, but outside of that, I’m more in the lane of Talking Heads and King Crimson.

I’d not heard of these dudes at all, and I’m appreciative of you putting me on to them. Hearing this reminded me of how I felt when I first heard The Darkness, all those years ago. I expect I’ll be diving into their last album, later this week.

At the Gates – Spectre of Extinction

BH: At The Gates. What hasn’t already been said about this classic melo-death band? They can do no wrong in my book.

Their new song, “Spectre of Extinction” has just been unleashed and I’m an instant fan of this song. I’ve dug the band’s last two albums since reforming but if this song is any indication, we may be in for their best album since Slaughter of the Soul.

The intro reels us in with a softer, acoustic section and then hits you like a sledgehammer with that nasty lead guitar hook. This is very “Blinded by Fear” and that is a very good thing.

Also, Tomas is now in his 50’s (!) and his vocals sound as ferocious as ever.

“Spectre of Extinction” is one hellish, towering inferno of a song and will be a perfect live show opener when the band can tour again.

Kataan- Erase

GF: This song sounds evil.

And I love it for that.

Singer Nicholas Thornbury singers like he’s screaming into the most terrifying, rigid, scorched-earth canyon known to man. He’s in hell, and we’re right there with him.

It’s exciting.

Who do I hear in this song— shades of Scott Kelly, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deafheaven, and maybe a little Slayer too?

I don’t know. What I do know, is that I love it.

While it’s a somewhat understated part of the song, there are some clean vocals that crop up in a couple of sections that sound straight out of a monastery— a very particular contrast to the hellscape visuals that the rest of the song conjures.

Brandon, I know that you’re familiar with Brett Boland’s work outside of this collaboration, as you mentioned Astronoid, when last we spoke. Was this release on your radar at all? How does it stack up in comparison? Was there anything in particular about the song that stuck out to you, or if you felt like the music was painting a picture for you, what did you see in your mind’s eye?

BH: Yes! Love Astronoid and Brett’s work in general. I actually heard about Kataan just recently because Brett had posted about it on Facebook. Honestly, Kataan and Astronoid are really different and if I hadn’t known the connection already, I wouldn’t have likely figured it out from a first listen.

Whereas Astronoid is more airy and progressive in the riffs and songwriting, Kataan is more intense, darker and oppressive. Both are very atmospheric but on different sides of the fence.

I have to agree that this track is pretty evil. Not sure if it’s evil in a lyrical sense but certainly in the mood that it conveys.

Also, I have to say the second half of the song is where I really got hooked in. The meaty lead riff is great but man that break after the second round of clean vocals is insane. It makes me want to run into a stack of Macaroni boxes at the grocery store and not apologize for it. You know, something real nuts.

Anyhow, I can’t wait to hear the other songs on this EP and it’s great to see Brett trying something different.

Book of Wyrms- Albironlilly

GF: Okay, okay— I know it’s a little weird to highlight an interlude off an LP for a column like this, but this song has to get some shine.

As someone whose formal metal education involved a lot of early Black Sabbath, I feel some kind of way about acoustic numbers finding their way onto old school-sounding metal releases.

Outside of being sonically fascinating, considering how heavy everything else is, they can serve as a really cool warm-up (or, follow-up) to whatever was just heard, or, is coming next.

For example, on, “Master of Reality,” would, “Into the Void,” hit as hard as it did, were you not lulled into a false sense of security by, “Solitude,” beforehand?

The answer is 100% no.

For the most part, Book of Wryms is riding in the lane of contemporaries Pallbearer and Elder. They’re making some old school metal with stoner flavors, and maybe a little synth and or prog stuff thrown in for good measure.

That makes a song like this stick out like a sore thumb.

The music found here is completely instrumental, and effortlessly gorgeous— like a forgotten medieval tune, that could probably lull a baby to sleep, or conjure up memories of your greatest heartbreak.

At only two minutes, I wish it went on for another 5, but so it is.

I expect I’ll be putting this on playlists for many years to come. It’s wonderful.

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