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Smiling Dogs

Man's Gin

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Album Review

Man's Gin is a project by Erik Wunder, best known to underground metal fans as the instrumental half of the highly regarded black metal group Cobalt. This sounds very different from that band's work, though; it's dominated by acoustic guitar, piano, upright bass, and drums, and is strongly influenced by country and the quieter, moodier side of Southern rock. It has its own lurching rhythm, closer to fife and drum music than rock, and Wunder's vocals are powerful, but clearly driven more by the need to get something out than to exploit refined technique; on "Free," he's chanting more than singing, over thumping, boxy drums and guitars that sound just slightly out of tune. When an electric guitar emerges halfway through the song, it's a thin, staticky buzz that brings no catharsis. "Stone on My Head" has the full-speed-ahead power of early rock & roll, but the ominous, doubled vocals give it a creepy power, like the band in a bar knows a fight's about to break out and is trying to make it worse before it gets better. Meanwhile, "Hate.Money.Love.Woman." has the stark beauty and vocal harmonies of classic country-folk. This is a multifaceted but unified album that has its own unique drive and power, and it might well appeal to people turned off by the noisy black metal of Cobalt.

Smiling Dogs, Man's Gin
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