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When it comes to rock and metal, continental Europe doesn't have a particularly good reputation. Perhaps this is unjust stereotyping by lazy UK/US press who know no better. It's generally considered that northern Europe is home to death-metal freaks who obsess over albums bedecked in blood-splattered corpses and satanic imagery whilst growing excessive amounts of hair. Central Europe meanwhile, is often purported to be trapped in the 80s, with poodle-rock, bad haircuts and soft-rock all being staples. Austrian band Milk+ have been convincing us over the past few months that this is nothing but a grotesque myth.
That it's produced by Ikey Owens from The Mars Volta is just one indication that they're taking a more modern and more innovative approach. There's little here that belongs too far back in the mists of time (that said, there's one bit of guitar on 'Melaforint' that sounds a bit like Dire Straits, but only briefly). The Mars Volta connection isn't accidental, like that band's sprawling proggy experiments, much of 'Band On The Wire' has songs that, let's just say, go on a bit. In fact only one track fails to get past the five minute barrier. This, naturally, is fine so long as the tunes are good.
In the case of Milk+ the tunes are good and the production a perfect match. Despite their length, songs like 'Elaptophon' and 'Cigarette's Arsonphobia' are anything but repetitive. Headbangers will have something decent to damage their cerebrums to in 'A Man On A Wire', 'Meltdown' and the ferocious 'Kollaptra'. Milk+ are at their best when they stretch the parameters of their music, as on 'Venus Breakdown' which is reminiscent of 90s dEUS, or the album highlight 'Epicurious Daydream Pt. II'. The brief interlude of 'Epicurious Daydream Part I' offers brief respite for you cranium, but for the most part 'Band On Wire' is full pelt, experimental, slightly proggy hard rock that, if they were a US band, would probably be blowing up quite big right now.
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