“Welcome all you fuckers/seeking evil excitements/yeah! You want to be cool” Of course you do! Then why not impress all your friends by listening to Bulldozer’s excellent debut album The Day Of Wrath. The Italian band was often written off as Venom clones but they were a more musically capable outfit (check out the maniacal guitar soloing throughout Mad Man) and edged very close to the crude Teutonic thrash of bands like Destruction and Kreator. And even if it didn’t exactly break new ground, Bulldozer’s debut endures on the strength of its songs and its attitude. The album is laden with killer riffs and hooks: from the sacreligious darkness of Welcome Death, the marauding Cut-Throat, the seductive Great Deciever and the unforgettable party-banger Whisky Time (“It’s fucking whisky time!”). Falls short of full points due to skippable intro/outro shenanigans but make no mistake! If you’re an uncool fucker, seeking evil excitement… it’s fucking Bulldozer time!
As the great philosopher-poet Paul Stanley once said: I think the daytime is a fine time… but the night-time is the right time! Australasia seem to agree. As you can maybe gather from the title Notturno, this album has something of the night about it. An almost entirely instrumental project led by multi-instrumentalist Gian Spalluto, it’s an evocative musical journey through the wee small hours.
A nocturnal quality isn’t exactly new in my listening but the music on Notturno is unusual in that it tries to evoke and express the nocturnal world of nature and the beauty of the night. It succeeds. There’s plenty of ghostly ambience and shimmering, starry synths but the album predominantly uses a tapestry of layered, distorted guitars which are often gothic sounding or employ black-metal tremolo techniques to add to the haunting, moonlit vibe. The layers are often discordant too, which helps evoke the scurrying, chirping denizens of the dark: most notably, and appropriately, in Creature. There’s a lot of tension and release too as these discordant passages often resolve into sweeter, harmonic areas to uplifting effect. It’s a technique that’s tempting to overuse but Spalluto wisely keeps all these tracks flowing and shifting into different styles and moods rather than relying on the constant epic build. Invisible is the only track here that does keep building, the climatic vocals (the only singing on the album) tipping it over into cloying territory.
But songs like Eden and Amnesia keep the balance just right, adding enough grit and driving momentum to avoid becoming too saccharine and Kern brings to mind Judgement-era Anathema, another band that skirt skilfully on the edge of mawkishness. The album is cohesive and well-paced, rarely outstaying its welcome and holds your interest remarkably well for a predominantly instrumental record. As the beautiful, nostalgic piano of the title track plays you out it’s hard to believe 40 minutes have passed. Notturno has added a welcome variety of colour and mood to my listening and is one of my favourite discoveries of the year. The night-time really is the right time.