posted on 12/2008 By:
Metal bands don’t always make the most interesting aesthetic choices; since we’re all pretty much stampeding towards whomever delivers the mightiest riffage, the window dressing often gets left in the dust. This doesn’t really bother me (or most of you, I daresay), but once in a while it’s nice to see a band that can bring interesting imagery along with the heavy. Beehoover definitely fit the bill when it comes to interesting imagery…or weird imagery, at the very least. The band’s name apparently comes from the vacuuming tactic that beekeepers use to bring their “bee beard” demonstrations to a close—Discovery Channel nerds know what I’m talking about—and Heavy Zooo’s album art consists of various animals with, um, weaponized body parts. The art is actually quite well done, and the band’s site features most of the cyber-animals on its front page. This said, I’m not sure what the fuck to make of it in relation to their music, and the best explanation I can come up with is “they’re German.” Go figure.
Beehoover’s lyrical content does little to dispel the mysteries posed by Heavy Zooo’s name and art (“here you are, my retinue ingratiates itself/watch out, I might get dirty when you kiss my ring/step aside, all sunbeams want to serve their aim in life”? Right then). Fortunately, this bass and drum two-piece is quite adept at speaking through their music. Inevitable Big Business and Lightning Bolt comparisons aside, these guys actually produce a distinctive and difficult-to-pinpoint style of riffy but dexterous heavy rock. Though the two-piece format understandably makes it difficult for most bands to craft interesting arrangements, vocalist/bassist Ingmar Petersen and drummer Claus-Peter Hamisch more than make up for their limitations with their highly adept but unpretentious musicianship. Petersen uses his bass more like a really, really detuned guitar than in the instrument’s more familiar rhythmic capacity; his chord vocabulary would put a lot of metal guitarists to shame. He and Hamisch make it abundantly clear that they’ve put in plenty of hours in the practice room—they mesh perfectly through Heavy Zooo’s ten tracks worth of deceptive twists and funky transitions. Petersen’s voice is another story. Though he falls short of really ruining anything, he might want to consider sounding less like a hysterical, tone-deaf version of David Bowie and more like…well, something else, though Hamisch contributes some nicely placed backing vocals that help to alleviate the screwiness of Petersen’s delivery.
As a whole, these songs are surprisingly melodic and detailed, coming off as almost akin to Stinking Lizaveta with Tool’s proclivity for multitracking and layering. However, even with the excellent production job, well-crafted songs, and Petersen’s vast pedalboard, Beehoover’s arrangements eventually start to run together, especially given the length of most of these tracks. By the time monolithic closer “Stanislav Petrov” begins, Heavy Zooo will have exhausted many listeners.
Taken in smaller bites, though, this album is an invigorating, unusual, and eminently headbangable listen. Heavy Zooo is actually Beehoover’s second album, and it’s successfully encouraged me to track down a copy of their debut. If you’re a fan of heavy/doomy rock music, aren’t sick to death of bass/drum combos, and can get past some gonzo vocals, this disc will prove to be a fascinating and rewarding listen.
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