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Another addition to The Ocean's Robin Staps' Pelagic Records label, Family are not, thank fuck, Willie Nelson's touring band who have the same moniker. Rather, this talented American quartet have forged a fairly original sound by melding classic rock and prog influences within a wider, innovatively heavy and more modern dynamic. And it's a seamless fusion of styles as there are no discernible passages of discrete classic rock idioms - instead, riffs and grooves of rock's past have been blended with crushingly heavy dissonance within genuinely progressive song structures that lean towards oft-discordant, quasi-cacophonic underpinnings. Having said that, tracks are occasionally punctuated with moments of classic stylings (most emphatically on 'The Wonder Years') although, generally, this is music that works on two levels and Family adhere to a paradox of harmonious discordance in their songwriting and its execution. The half-screamed/half-growled vocals, similar to Burst's Linus Jägerskog, will probably be enough to deter the classic rock purists, as will the sonically challenging compositional structures so 'Portrait' works better as a kick up the arse to the modern underground scene than something that'll appeal to aficionados of Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd et al. And mentioning Burst, they too (amongst others, of course) blended classic rock influences with a genuinely progressive vibe and had a discordant/melodic duality so it could be argued 'Portrait' is nothing new. Wrong. Burst's blend was a more polished, structured affair. Family, on the other hand, make it sound like they're effortlessly jamming out their amalgam thus there's a pretty natural feeling to their fusion. And, ironically, by infusing their material with classic rock flavours, Family are a rather refreshing listen. The cover art, although apt for the album's lyrical concept of a dysfunctional family who develop supernatural powers, might not do the band any favours as it's not that eye-catching and perhaps more country music than metal (Willie Nelson's Family?!). It's more representative of the concept than the actual music. Maybe that's just me, though.
Pelagic Records
Review by Mark Holmes
26th Oct 2012
1) Bridge & Tunnel
2) Daddy Wronglegs
3) Bopsky
4) Illegal Women
5) Delphonika
6) The Wonder Years
7) Othermother
8) Exploding Baby
"...riffs and grooves of rock's past have been blended with crushingly heavy dissonance within genuinely progressive song structures..."