If I were to provide you with only one piece of information about Belgium’s Raketkanon in order to describe them, then that would be that their new album “Rktknn#2” is produced by US punk legend Steve Albini. If you know anything about Albini‘s previous bands and his production style then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Raketkanon‘s sound is often built around the tension between notes, that extra thrill in the very slight delay before the next beat. There is also a stroppy, petulant air of the pissed off loser about many of their songs, which occasionally makes them sound self-pitying. Thankfully the air of near-deranged anger keeps the whiny-ness in check. Over the years Albini and chums have elevated the tension in their music to a theatrical art in Shellac and Big Black virtually wrote the template for self destructive losers in ‘Kerosene’, so no surprises here yet.
There are other elements to the bands sound, most impressively keyboards that veer from Faith No More-ish grandiosity to the quirky junk shop style of Turbo Wolf. Small traces of progressive and extreme metal can be heard in the tremelo picking and crushing riffs of the excellently unhinged ‘Ibrahim’ and the controlled screaming at the end of ‘Nico van der Eeken’.
Mainly the bands songs rely on a strong rhythmic power and the addition of slightly off-kilter vocals and those colourful keyboard parts. Where it all falls down to some degree is that those vocals render the lyrics unintelligible and the pounding rhythms seem pretty standard across the whole set, meaning the band have a good sound but few great individual songs. Apart from album highlight ‘Ibrahim’ I do like the slower, more thoughtful ‘Mathilde’, which begins and ends in the hushed tones of fellow countrymen Deus and moves to a more anguished state in between with vocals that sound like they are by a man trapped in some sort of a digital wasteland.
Raketkanon is a great name for a band, but they need a bit of fine tuning before they can turn into a noisy weapon of mass destruction.