Jan-Simon : We can be sure about one thing; Neon Burton is no stranger to self-reflection. This Cologne based trio admits they are a band that is difficult to pin down. Just when one thinks to know which sub-genre fits this band best, the perspective changes completely and the reviewer is left empty handed on the proverbial crossroads of styles.
After the first few minutes of opening track ‘Businessmen’ it seems so obvious. This is stoner, or more precise heavy psych / proto hard rock. Then the track takes a U-turn towards indie guitar rock, creating a lot of confusion. The next song is a very meticulously crafted song that very slowly gets going. Only after six minutes or so, things seem to be ready to go. Before that, it is a rather introverted song that could very well be considered a ballad. Again something extraordinary happens, we get a two minutes riff-o-rama that, despite all good intentions, does not seem to have much to do with all that happened earlier in this song. When after that the bass takes the lead in a instrumental Primus meets Rage Against The Machine in a funky mood, I am completely lost. What the heck is going on here? Here we have a band that can play like few other bands, but at the same time seems to have no clue at all what they want to achieve. Stoner or blues rock? Funk or grunge? New metal or prog rock? Although I enjoy many different styles of music, a few songs into ‘Neontology’ I feel like the ball in a pinball machine. Going from left to right, up and down, hitting the walls and being launched into who knows what, it is as if a record cabinet has fallen over and all the records were put in the wrong sleeves.
As the album progresses, things get a bit more focused and underneath the multitude of references something resembling a recurring theme can be discovered. It is rather conventional melodic rock of the type that bands like Fatal Flowers used to make, although it is often hidden behind a wall of power chords. Clean straight up and down rock with big chords and ditto riffs, that is when this band is at its best. Neon Burton is a band that has a lot to offer and ‘Neontology’ is a fine debut album. It would have been a lot better if the band had tried to show off less. All this “look what we can” can be distractive. Eclecticism can be fun, especially when done right. Only the result is often art that mainly references and seldom inspires. As a portfolio or menu, this album certainly has its use. I would like a next album that only uses ‘Businessmen’ and especially ‘Magma’ as templates. That would really make me happy.