Like Vampire Weekend and Imagine Dragons before them, Black Metal Raccoons’ chosen name is deceptive. Alex Morelli and Ville Verkkapuro formed the band in 2015 and struck immediately on a distinctive sound based on distorted guitars, heavy synthesizers and repetitive insistent beats. BMR’s patented “raccoon roll” takes the gothic industrial stomp of Gary Numan, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and Depeche Mode, and adds a touch of whimsy to the mix.
According to the band:“The theme of the album is a journey started at sunset from the most western point of Europe to outer space of eternal night with an intergalactic Cadillac. The trip, fuelled by ketamine, detaches the heroes from their bodies as they enter the after party of life, on another planet."
As concept albums go, that works both on the well-worn level of rock 'n' roll debauchery, and as an antidote to the Trump/Brexit-era dystopian certitude that's dominating music at the moment.
Tsuki, like their earlier EPs, proudly wears the dark accoutrements of goth but keeps everything light and breezy with the music. A brief instrumental intro leads into ‘1420 mhz’. Named for the hydrogen line used in radio astronomy, the dirty synths and overdriven guitars are the darker sides of Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ as our protagonists' journey from Earth begins. Ville’s understated drawl alternates with a flanging lead guitar sending contrails across the stratosphere.
As Tsuki enters deep space ‘Illusion Of Time’ opens with a drumbeat straight from the Sisters Of Mercy’s ‘Dominion’, but the tune has a tempo and timbre more akin to Robert Smith’s Disintegration period. It’s a change of pace for the Finns; a more contemplative effort with emphasis on the vocals rather than the driving beats and synth loops.
The scientific references return on the slurred delivery of ‘Space Disco C13H16CINO’ (the chemical formula of ketamine, if Wikipedia can be believed), and a mysterious alien voice on ‘Interstellar’ brings us to the comedown room of ‘After Hours 999’ and the eight-minute epic ‘We Are Timeless ‘.
Tsuki is an album made to be listened to as a whole but ‘Space Disco C13H16CINO’ and ‘Illusion Of Time’ are great standalone singles. It’s an enjoyable listen and it is one that will work really well live or in a goth disco, pumping through a massive sound system. With one full-length trip just ended, you feel that the journey for Black Metal Raccoons is just beginning. Tsuki plants a psychogenic flag on the dark side of the moon. We can only sit and wait for them to report back on what the next leg of their travels reveals.
Tsuki is available via iTunes.