Thursday, May 24, 2012

Germ: Wish (2012)


Germ is a weird one. Wish combines all manner of synthesized sounds: electronica, ambient, synth-pop, the strings and choirs of Viking metal, and the first few seconds of every Steve Miller song. It adds drums, occasional guitars, and clean or unearthly vocals to create a sound you've surely never heard before. Think Ace of Base getting in touch with their Swedish roots and then torturing Attila Csihar. When they throw in the occasional straight-up heavy metal lead, comparisons to the soundtrack of an 80's action movie present themselves.

Last I checked, though, 80's action movies soundtracks and Ace of Base don't have blast beats and bloodcurdling screams.

I've previously admitted my love for metal/synth-pop mashups created by the likes of Theatre of Tragedy. That in istelf is enough to qualify this review quite a bit. I'm predisposed to like this.

Aside from that, you might be thinking that this isn't really all that original, given that Musique came out over a decade ago. But Germ's approach is distinct in at least two important ways. First, it clearly comes from a black/Viking metal background rather than the gothic metal of ToT, meaning that the metallic sounds are starting out from a more abrasive position. Second, and more importantly, the emphasis is reversed. ToT's approach focused energy on the pop side of the equation, churning out pop songs that use metal sounds. Germ, in contrast, creates atmospheric metal that incorporates synth-pop keyboard lines and the odd vocal hook. This may seem like a subtle point, but it makes all the difference. Pop is an extremely flexible genre, in terms of the sounds it uses. Metal is comparatively restrictive, especially when you narrow that down to something as distinct as atmospheric black metal. To throw in some very alien element like pop is, to say the least, unorthodox.

As a result, the way the sounds are brought together is odd. It does not appear cohesive at all on first listen. In truth, I almost gave up on it before finishing the first time. After repeat explorations, it grew on me. The apparent awkwardness becomes charming, at least to me. But be warned.

The Verdict: If you've ever wondered what it would sound like to combine 80's action soundtracks, 90's synth-pop, and Viking metal, you probably forgot to take your medication. Yet I'm glad we live in a world where someone asked such a ludicrous question. I give Wish 4 out of 5 stars.

Buy Wish

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