Ragtime, Metal, Cabaret, Top Hats, and Effigies
Posted by RiffRaff
One thing that makes me really get into a band beyond solid musicianship, good songwriting, and great energy is the ‘fun factor’ of the record. Yes, music speaks to the soul, touches on many different emotions, makes strong and bold statements, all that stuff. But beyond the ‘serious’ end of music, I also enjoy it to be entertained, I want to have a smile on my face while listening, I want all the happy parts of my body to surge with good energy, I want to laugh. More often than not those aren’t major bullet points of metal so when a band comes around that gets that ‘happy energy’ flowing I’m quick to become enamored with the band in question.
PA’s Top Hats and Effigies (awesome band name!) has recently released an E.P., or better put, an album sampler, called Rigamarole and it touches my special happy parts and makes me giddy. Composed of 3 songs that are in the process of being re-recorded for an upcoming full length album to be released later this year, TH&E have crafted a rather unique style of music. Blending dark ragtime cabaret music, jazz, and metal and topped them off with some pretty damn decent songwriting this appetizer really has me salivating furiously for the main course. “The Sunrise Said Everything Will Be Okay” starts off with the music of a demonic circus processing through town and then wicked reptilian black metal vocals kick in and unleash the demons upon the listener. The extreme vocals are contrasted with a crooning clean vocal style that balances the tone perfectly, my only wish for improvement on this is a bit more clarity and volume on the cleans for the full length release. As the song progresses it becomes more discordant reaching a point where it sounds like an orchestra falling down a flight of stairs, and that works great as it adds to the twisted and insane nature of the song.
The cabaret really gets going with the very Finntroll inspired “Dreams Do Come True”. The bouncy polka-like music really makes my feet want to get moving and the sly hiss of the harsh vocals set a fun terrifying mood. The ragtime piano paired with the driving guitars and thundering drums at the 3:40 mark is one of the most fun bits of new music I’ve heard this year. “Dead Last” has a great Phantom of the Opera organ intro that sets some great mood before slipping into that great ragtime piano again. The tortured yet bouncy clean vocals have a great rhythm (they do need a bit of cleaning up for the final version though) and the harsh lines really add a great punch right when the song needs it.
As you can see I’m really looking forward to hearing TH&E’s final full length record. The music and structures are delightfully insane and remind me heavily of a cross of Mr. Bungle and Finntroll, yet it all comes off as quite unique. It must be that great ragtime piano. The music is just plain fun to listen to and has enough depth to warrant paying attention to what you’re hearing. With some work cleaning up the songs on the production end the upcoming album could be something that will turn some heads. This E.P. has definitely gotten my attention and is a great listen as a precursor of greater things to come. Check it out and tell all your friends who like some good and fun oddball music. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!