Metal has always seemed, to me, to be one of the most enigmatic genres of the music industry. Whether heavy, as in Metallica, or alternative, as in Tool, I’ve never been quite able to get behind it, let alone get it. Case in point, Slipknot — it’s not only difficult to understand Corey Taylor when he sings, but the deal with the masks remains forever a mystery. Needless to say, as I approached Austrian alt-metalheads Gasmac Gilmore and their latest release, Dead Donkey, the air was ripe with apprehension. Standing on the flipside of a good listen, however, it’s at least safe to say that Gasmac Gilmore has been classed as “alternative metal” for a reason.
The Austrian rockers offer up a sound and style consistent with other known alt-metal bands, most notably System Of A Down. The instrumentals are choppy, heavy and rhythmic while lead singer Matthias Wick’s vocals are deep, theatrical and abound with vibrato. In a quirky twist, the band throws a bone to its Central European roots, as many of the tracks feature at least one polka-infused instrumental line that plays consistently through the background and occasionally takes centre stage in between verses of good, wholesome, traditionally-metal fun.
The result is only slightly ridiculous — almost as if Tim Burton got his hands on some seminal Central European dance music and then arranged it into a rock opera. It’s hard to know if the band wants to be taken seriously or is simply aiming to craft a reputation based on pure theatricality — especially when considering songs like “Camilla” which playfully rhymes girls’ names with various drinks, or “Mayonnaise” whose chorus is comprised of repeatedly asking the all-important question, “Would you like some mayonnaise?”
The silliness works to Gasmac Gilmore’s advantage though, because it makes the album — which is, like most metal albums, loud and aggressive — one thing that not all other metal acts can claim. Gasmac Gilmore’s tracks are remarkably fun. They aren’t overwhelmingly dark or unsettling, but are rather a pretty friendly offering for your average non-metalhead. And while it may be that saying this means I still don’t properly understand the genre, at least now I can say I don’t dislike it either.