Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Strange Here-II

Minotauro Records

Strange Here is a new (heavy) psychedelic rock/doom metal project from ex-Paul Chain member/solo artist Alexander Scardavian. In addition to playing with Paul Chain on his 1991 full-length LP, "Whited Sepulchres" this stellar musician appeared on the "Official Live Bootleg" live disc from 1999 and on a 2001 single entitled "Sanctuary Heve". He also contributed to Death SS member Steve Sylvester’s two solo albums, both as a writer and as a session musician. Here on the highly-rated "II" the highly-skilled/praise-worthy Alexander Scardavian (born Alessandro Scardavi) effectively handles all the vocals, plays as guitar and takes care of the much-enjoyed keyboard parts. With a little help from ex-Hand of God member Domencio "Dom" Lotito (he tackles bass duties and ends up adding some extra-spicy guitar playing to the mix) Alexander turns his various influences (Black Sabbath, Venom, St. Vitus, Pentagram, Blue Cheer...) into pure gold with this 7-track LP nothing short of an essential pick-up for fans of doom metal! As the original "Strange Here" was a 2002 solo release from Alexander Scardavian (a highly skilled musician in his own right!) it is easy enough to see where this band's name came from and here on the atmospheric "II" it is not just the name game that is played with an eye set on the divine purpose as (musically) Alexander Scardavian takes a further peak at hell and it's all for a chance to continue his journey into the mouth of utter, unrestrained and unholy madness! On this eerie soundtrack we are given a pinch of Black Sabbath by way of vintage Venom with "Still Alone" and "Kiss of Worms" (a old track that Paul Chain often played as a show opener) all but sealing the deal that "II" was going to be thick-skinned pseudo thrash album! But, just about when you think you've got "II" pegged and you naively talk about where this adventure is taking you it all slows down to a creeping crawl with the rest (or at least a choice chunk!) of this fascinating CD pecking at your eyes as you twist in the wind! As I plunged further into pitch-black abyss that is "II" I felt the cold chill of Strange Here's music with the only apt-description almost as psychological scaring as the music itself! Imagine a long blade slowing digging into your body and as the perpetrator slowing stabs you to death it's all you can do to hold onto that last tiny shiver of life. With death peaking it's eyes out you begin to fade and as the darkness closes in on you it's all over. That is the tale of "II" from "Born To Lose" onward with Alexander and Lotito having graciously granted us admission to the nightmare. Not bad for a first recording. Not bad at all.

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