Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Label: No Reason Records & Booking / Black Star Foundation

Date: June 16th, 2023

You heard of elf on a shelf, right? Now get ready for… a punk rock opera! Yes, you read it correctly and no, I have never even heard of an attempt at such unthinkable design. In fact, up until the announcement of “Andromeda” I was certain those two are more than happy to stay as far away from each other as possible. To a point of utmost disgust towards one another. Even phrases like rock or metal opera often come out as farfetched, despite the occasional use of symphonic elements and even instruments. But punk, with its explosive, “hit and run” type of musical construction, combined with a monumentality and pompous grandeur of opera… I didn’t see it ever working out.

Then again, here it is, “Andromeda”, in all its fifty two minutes of glory. Now, don’t jump to any conclusions, of course there is no fat lady singing in LineOut. Mr. Andrea Codini may not be the slimmest vocalist around, but he sure ain’t fat. Or a lady. Joking aside, what makes this record an “opera” is the “libretto”. A concept story befitting a punk band, naturally, that is spread out over a bunch of tracks tied together into one. The tale follows the last living hours of a drug addicted punk rocker by the name Andromeda. As the original Andromeda, from the Greek mythology, was left tied to a rock (punk rock) waiting for the monster to devour her, so does the one who is the hero of LineOut’s new album. In this case though, there’s no Perseus to save her. At least I think there isn’t, since the Italians made a mistake of not printing the lyrics in the digipack CD. Or anywhere else online, for that matter. Hence, I have no idea about the actual story other than what I could find in various promotional statements. Oh, and there’s also a lyric video that covers about seven minutes of the album, but is far from completing, or even beginning to complete the tale of Andromeda. Me, I’d love to read the whole thing. Without it… Well, let’s just say it’s like a glorious meal in a luxurious restaurant, but there’s no salt. Or, to put it in plain Italian terms, pizza with a pineapple.

However, when it comes to music itself, LineOut hasn’t changed but went through an enrichment process. There’s really no saying whether this is a circumstantial update of the band’s sound, since there was a necessity for the music to follow the storyline. Likely, the quartet themselves can’t tell the future from today’s perspective. Still, focusing on “Andromeda”, the band proudly states they incorporated a multitude of influences into the record. Indeed, there’s at least half a dozen of them. Truth be told, they are incorporated, but nowhere near fused into a solid and homogenous wall of sound. Instead, LineOut keeps the nucleus of their creation intact, but intersects “regular” melodic punk rock tracks with various interludes and intermezzos that take you all over the musical spectrum.

Precisely speaking, the band is coming from a fairly clean-cut Orange County, melodic, skate hardcore punk rock. Though I will probably never stop pointing at the work of Mr. Tommaso Galli, whose bass guitar is probably the most prominent I’ve heard in a hardcore band. His obvious bows to Mr. Steve Harris are colouring LineOut’s music for years now. Therefore, the first clear influence on the band comes from United Kingdom. There are a couple of more obvious salutes to Iron Maiden scattered throughout “Andromeda”, but that bass guitar is working wonders for the internal combustion engine of LineOut.

Those are the basics of what Italians bring to the table. It’s only natural that they feel most comfortable there. They perform with confidence, power and massive energy. Furthermore, the band is extremely convincing as a purebred hardcore punk band. The songs are strong, catchy and memorable, with driving riffs and totally hammering drums. At the same time, LineOut manages to avoid being predictable even when utilizing well-worm methods of songwriting. In that regard, playing around with arrangements works to band’s favour. Not to mention those transitions from track to track (though it’s all just one continuous track). But there are also a bunch of other insertions that work around “Andromeda” being just another follower to classic records by Pennywise, Ignite or Satanic Surfers.

Mentioned British heavy metal is just one, although it is the most influential and best fused with LineOut’s foundations. Aside of Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy is the focal point for the band. Another strong figure behind four strings, lest you forget. Occasionally, the Italians go for a bit of thrash metal or crossover, when there’s a need for a bit more aggression and fury. Municipal Waste for reference. For more melancholic passages they use grunge or some of that 1990s indie rock. Think The Cranberries.

But those are all within a certain range of rock ‘n’ rolling palette. Even if not quite expected in a nominally hardcore punk band, they are not what you might call outrageous blasphemies to genre’s puritans. How about the mentioned interludes? Get this now! LineOut tries traditional Italian music. I can’t even call it properly. To be honest, I never thought about what it might be called. It’s the thing you might often hear in movies when the scene is set in, for instance, Tuscany or Sicily. I do hope you understand what I’m writing about here. Those melodies are worked in sorts of soft rock arrangements and are onwards developed skilfully into the next “normal” punk rocking track. Beyond Italian, I believe I’ve heard Spanish traditional traces in those passages, so perhaps we can even speak of Mediterranean style. That sound, however, remains outside my area of expertise, so I won’t try acting too smart.

Speaking of Italian music, LineOut makes an honourable “mention” of one of the greatest composers ever to dabble across the notebook. Maestro Ennio Morricone, and that thing which made him a giant of cinematic tunes. In combination with the previously mentioned “canzone”, these partitures make for the most dramatic section of “Andromeda”. Gliding then through a sort of a “Master of Puppets” like interlude, the album rushes into the climax in the last couple of minutes.

I also mustn’t forget about that moment around twenty eight minutes into the song. Sounds like some Romani music. Very bass driven, rhythm oriented and, of course, dynamic.

Now, don’t make a mistake of thinking these are just simple transitions between tracks. First of all, they are of substantial length, especially when put next to punk songs. Second of all, they hold much more importance than some instrumental doodles. The have a purpose of painting a picture that should ascertain Andromeda’s emotional distress as the unavoidable end draws near. An actual connotation with opera might be traced here. At least that’s what I personally find in them. Again, I’m short of lyrics, so a full circle eludes me. Also, the serpent adorning the front cover is somewhat of a mystery for me.

With all that being said (or rather written), the issue some punk rockers might have with “Andromeda” is that it takes a whole lot of attention. The album is much more than a grouping of two to three minutes long kickers. It commands utmost focus and concentration not common for hardcore punk audience. However, it rewards you with a harvest only Italian vineyards can provide. “Andromeda” cements LineOut as one of my punk all-time favourites and I can only suggest whoever is reading this, give it a try. Curiosity may have killed a cat, but remember, the sucker’s got eight more lives to give.


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