The first thing you hear when you press play on “Oppenheimer”, track 1 on Observation, the debut album from Finnish band The Physicists, is a dinky electronic farting noise.
At this point I’m reaching for the off-button, but then the riff starts, and I turn up the volume knob instead.
Observation is a shocker of an album – it’s a prime example of a bunch of talented musicians taking an idea and running with it, no holds barred, no stopping to wonder if maybe they’re being a bit silly. It’s an album that, had some lesser bunch of weirdos put it out, it would have been the shittiest album of the year. But this bunch of weirdos know exactly what they’re doing.
And just who are these weirdos? Well, they’re Finns, of course. A motley crew of hardcore scientists: F.P. Meridian (Dimensional geological analysis), MC Omega Zero ( Cosmological parameters, loops, vocals, guitar), and Eerosmith (Maritime logistics, drums). And the album – well, call it “Science Metal”. Or call it “Mathdeathboogie”, which is my new favorite word. “Mathdeathboogie” perfectly describes the catchy, random geekery of “High Frequency”, and “Einstein Intoxicated”? This song is just mad. If you’re going to have a gimmick, you might as well take it all the way.
The music consists of sporadic, fuzzy riffs, catchy hooks and song structures that could only occur when Dr. Frankenstein took the brains of every member of Kalmah and stuck them into Rammstein. The vocals alternate between artificially distorted screeches and that low goth industrial rumble that turns most girls’ insides all mushy. Add a splattering of electronic blips and bloops, and some lyrics about science gone mad, and you’ve got mathdeathboogie, my new favorite made-up genre.
If this sounds terrible to you, as it does to me when I write it down, then I suggest you listen to Observation. Produced by Hiili Hiilesmae, the man behind Apocalyptica’s deep, dirge-like sound, The Physicists sound has been perfectly captured – the electronics expertly integrated to give that weird, industrial feel without taking over the songs; the vocals tampered with just enough to keep pockets of intense emotion behind the robotic drones. If I have one complaint, it’s that I’d like to hear more guitar in the songs – more of the uniquely-distorted solos, more of the random injections of intense metal.
I usually frown at bands who attempt to invent their own sub-genre, but, since I’ve been playing Observation non-stop since I got it, I’m going to let that little indiscretion slide. Rock on, you wacky Finnish science geeks.