Okay, so this intro will be a little shorter because I really can’t wait to get into this record with you. Oxx is a band from Denmark that likes loud and aggressive sounds and dissonances a lot. Their new record is titled The Skeleton Is Just A Coathanger; These Are The Black Strings That Make You Dance, and before you think how someone could say something so bold yet so true, we should jump straight into the album.
Our first encounter with this music happens on “Labyrinth (Minotaur Hymn)”. To be honest, the best metaphor I have for their sound is being a beekeeper inside a black hole and all of your bees produce little crystals you can smoke to travel through dimensions. Too abstract? Okay, so the song actually begins pretty straightforward with guitar, bass, and drums all seemingly starting on improvisational pieces before finally being able to actually vibe with each other and concoct a heavy, almost trance-like piece of music that straddles between weird melodies, nail-biting dissonances, and rhythms that would make free-jazz musicians confused. This is mathcore that doesn’t need any fancy effects or elaborate passages, this is mathcore that is supposed to be fun and have some raw, expressive chops.
On “Screwdriver Hymn” we see this whole concept a little more organized. Melodic lines actually come through the abrasive rhythms and the dense atmosphere generated by both drums and bass. Of course a little experimentation can’t be missing from the track, so the band employs the help of a sax for only a few accented lines.
A big part of the band’s sound comes from the fact that guitar and bass both play extremely meaty, palm-muted hardcore passages that somehow don’t compromise the smooth technicality both of the instruments display. Another factor is that the drums are just massive. Throughout the album, the drums sound like a firing squad, sometimes going so out there with fills and drum rolls that it overshines the rest of the instrumentation with ease.
With “Birthday Song” the band shows us what they think a melodic piece of music is. Lightning speed tapping, constant blast beats, and the strangest sax fills I’ve ever heard all fight for constant domination of the soundscape. Not once does the song drop the ball, your adrenaline will be constantly rising, while listening and after almost three minutes it will all be over. Where did this track come from? Who thought of that? Can I have more? These are all legitimate questions to ask when getting addicted to the sound of Oxx.
With the title track of The Skeleton Is Just A Coathanger; These Are The Black Strings That Make You Dance being a surprise for patient listeners, I can finally say that I’ve made it all the way through the record and it is an experience. It’s a incredible piece of music I’ve not heard in a similar way anywhere. Though the production could use some polish here and there as it’s quite difficult to make out some details the band has hidden in the track. The constant onslaught of the album is possibly tiring for some listeners, but quiet and thoughtful doesn’t fit the band. If you’re interested to hear a wonderful mathcore record, straddling the line between spontaneous combustion and thoughtful madness, listen to this.