Bart M. : The new album by American band Radiant Knife is called 'Science Fiction' and to be honest, it is quite a difficult record. Not necessarily to review, but to give it a score afterwards is not an easy task. And I am not quite sure why that is: is it because the musical level of the various songs varies so incredibly much or is it because there are just so many influences and experimentation that the songs are almost impossible to compare to each other?
The digital version of this album (the vinyl one is slightly different) starts off with 'Stereo Lords', an instrumental song and a great opener on which it seems the band (consisting of two persons) decided to just let all of the instruments rage, to get that out of their system and maintain a focus throughout the rest of the journey. And I think this comes across a lot better on the LP, because that one does not have the following two songs that ARE on the digital: 'Wasted Minds' and 'All We Know Is All We Are' are really not bad songs, but they appear so much less inspired than all the others. Less full, less surprising and less appealing to the imagination. The songs that follow, starting with the torpid, heavy and hammering 'The Human Condition', are all pearls on the hilt of (the) Radiant Knife. Throughout the strong riffs there is some underlying sense of jazzy experimentation that will take you in unexpected directions every time you might feel things are threatening to get monotonous. From the dreamy but radical (riffs, clean singing and a guitar sound that invites you to come along on this journey) 'Swarming Lights Surround You' on I get the impression that the band has entered a territory in which they are absolute masters and in which they manage to combine a certain kind of calmness with a bizarre sense of heaviness. Although this sounds like a paradox, it really is a great relationship: mystical and a tad desolate. This all culminates in the closing song, 'Suffer Under God', in which sludge, stoner, doom and post metal seamlessly come together in a hymn that is somewhat reminiscent of Crowbar, and is absolutely able to let even the most hardened rocker suffer under its intensity. Just as the song seems to be coming to an end and you think: I wish these riffs would go on a while longer, well, they do.
So, I find it very hard to give this album an explicit and definitive score, because the difference in originality between the various songs is huge. The second part of the record sounds so much more coherent than the first part and I think that if they would have left the two (in my opinion) lesser songs off the album, as they have done with the vinyl version, this would have been a major ass-kicking record.