Seven Impale - Contrapasso album review

Dizzying, all-areas prog from the Scandinavian sextet Seven Impale

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In theory, metal and jazz might not appear to be the cosiest of bedfellows. But bands such as Conflux, Meshuggah, The Mars Volta and Shining have all proved it can be a devastating coupling. The latest group to harness this fusion are Shining’s Norwegian compatriots, Seven Impale, who are also clearly intent on turning it into a full-scale orgy. If 2014’s City Of The Sun hinted at a group with a wilful disregard for boundaries then this follow-up makes good on that promise.

These lengthy, often labyrinthine songs take all manner of digressions, as if the idea of staying in one place for too long might be detrimental to their health. Lemma opens like a bludgeoning metal monster, singer/guitarist Stian Økland sounding like a goth trapped in a cave, before the piece dissolves into freely associative jazz skronk. There are faintly classical elements in Serpentstone, a composition that shifts from atmospheric post-rock to heavy prog, while Inertia makes it a mission to sharpen the contrast between ambient passages and hard rock. Not everything works well, though they save the best till last with Phoenix, a meandering epic that combines minimal electronica with controlled explosions of guitar.