THE METEORS: Dreamin’ Up A Nightmare
Release year: 2021
Label: Mutant Rock Records
If you’re into psychobilly, the abbreviation OTMAPP will be familiar to you. If it isn’t, you’re not into psychobilly – simple as that. It stands for, of course, “Only The Meteors Are Pure Psychobilly”… boastful words, but not without enough truth to back them up. After all, The Meteors were the first psychobilly band, and have remained a constant on the scene ever since their inception, keeping up a steady pace of new releases and racking up an impressive numbers of gigs, to say the least, all over the world.
It is not att all hyperbole or exaggeration to say that what Black Sabbath is to heavy metal, or Venom to extreme metal, or Death In June is to neofolk, is what The Meteors are to psychobilly – except arguably even more so. You see, pretty much from their earliest releases, before psychobilly was even the name of a genre, the band laid down what is still the archetypal sound, as well as the visual and lyrical concept. Where Black Sabbath was just the starting point, and Venom were a nascent form, with The Meteors emerged a remarkably ready form of psychobilly. Of course things have evolved since then even in psychobilly, but the fact of the matter remains: at the core of things is something that is very reminiscent of what The Meteors have always been about. OTMAPP.
Like the rest of us, The Meteors mainman, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter P. Paul Fenech – also the sole original member since who knows how many years – has been pretty much stuck in his home for large parts of the past two years, unable to tour. Seems like he’s used the time write, record and then write and record some more. This has resulted in a whopping three full-length albums this year, with Dreamin’ Up A Nightmare being one of them. Less surprisingly, the rapid pace has rubbed off on the quality.
Stylewise, this is typical latter day The Meteors: snotty, punked up psychobilly that proudly displays its roots in rockabilly and rock & roll, presented with production values that generously can be called lo-fi and rough. Less generous people might call them just sloppy and bad. And truthfully, the sound of the album does leave a lot to be desired even if you’re not expecting the absolute cutting edge: a lot of the time the drums sound like a badly mixed drum machine, and especially the hi-hats sound like they suffer from bad mp3-compression. Most everything is coated with a slight layer of annoyingly buzzing distortion, and the sound is definitely on the thin side.
But, if you’ve heard a The Meteors album in the past, oh, 10 years or so, you’re prepared for this.
Sadly, the song material doesn’t really rise above the technical limitations of the album. Whilst by no means hopeless or sub-par, this is pretty much run-of-the-mill The Meteors in a rather uninspired, by-the-numbers form. Devoted kattle, members of the WWWC and other die-hard fans will obviously be happy with another album of what is essentially the same old, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, it also feels a bit redundant.
There are no songs on the album which rise up to become memorable or particularly worthwhile. Fenech doesn’t mangle out any great riffs from his guitar, and whilst his trademark snarl is as ever, there are no particularly inspired lyrics or catchy choruses here.
I must admit that at first I was very underwhelmed by the album. For the first few listens, the album felt quite weak. Little by little, specks of light started to shine here and there, and though I’m still not overly excited about the album, insofar hating it goes, I have changed my mind. This isn’t a bad album, this just suffers from a few glaring flaws: the songs themselves are a bit faceless, and everything sounds very familiar, like the band already released this album before.
Still, there are better moments here and there. For example, the instrumentals that open and close the album are pretty fun for a few listens, and there’s the occasional moment where things rise above the gray mass. Quite obviously, the somewhat sagging nature of this album is not a sign of the band being out of ideas and breath – more likely it’s a sign of the band being bored witless with not being able to tour, not being able to hit the stages and be in their element.
I certainly symphatize with them, if the band created this album as a means to release some pressure and deal with the fucked-up situation. Still, it doesn’t really vindicate the album: Dreamin’ Up A Nightmare isn’t prime The Meteors.
Summary: Their third album in a year – and sounds like it, too.
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