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Label: Self released

Date: November 28th, 2023

There should really be a book by now. A manual or a psychological study or something that would explain the phenomenon of a one-man band. Me, I’ll start actively avoiding them. “Sifting through the rubble“, one can find some valuables and the rest should really be left where it fell. Even those valuables are usually dinged, distorted or downright broken. Level it and start anew. With a proper band, with a proper release, format, promotion and musical expression worthy of listeners’ time and money.

And yes, I’m taking it all out on an unsuspecting Estonian one-man band who is doing everything by the book. With “by the book“, I mean the book of one-man bands and mistakes they keep making time and time again. I’m feeling a dreadful déjà vu writing this…

“Borderline” is the third full length record by Mr. Madis Jalakas, which wouldn’t be a problem if this wasn’t the second one during the year 2023. Coming out only six months after its predecessor, “Borderline” never stood a chance. Nobody is that creative. No single person. We had examples back in the 1970s and 1980s, but those were full bands with all the time in the world, while driving along in vans, with guitars in hands. Not one person picking through the strings in his bedroom after long days at work. This way, all the ideas come out as brilliant ones, worthy of publication. They’re not. Period. Most of them should’ve been scrapped at the onset.

In that process, a whole lot of help comes from separate pairs of ears. Those can assist in picking out the stuff that’s worthy of further assessment and work (a whole lot of it actually) until the song starts taking shape. If you don’t have that, are a misanthropic nihilist or otherwise impaired and shunned by the world, trust me on this, take your time! Do not rush into execution! Do not publish the first thing that comes out of the speakers!

And here are a few reasons why, as shown on the example of Thunraz’s “Borderline”.

First of all, another pair of ears could’ve helped in creation. This is a selection of songs that are made from varying pieces that often have no connecting point with each other. Assembled from motifs that are not only quite uninteresting, these are loosely tied together so that the feeling is one of jumping from topic to topic, emotion to emotion, fragment to fragment, rarely stopping to develop an identifiable piece of music.

Take the second song, “Reborn to Die”. It has a fairly catchy opening riff and then it goes through a myriad of others without ever returning to the one that actually had a chance of intriguing the listener. Arrangements are non-existent, so the album heads from psychosis to psychotic nonsense.

Yes, I’ve taken into account that the topic of the album is psychological hardship and exploration of traumatized mind, but that’s no excuse for this lack of coherence.

Second of all, and on the subject of said “exploration”… Talk about “inability to overcome traumas”, published lyrics have only a couple of lines for each song. The vocals are indiscernible and I cannot be sure that this is all that has been “sung”. But if it is, there’s another proof of a lack of creative juices.

By the way, while growling and screaming, the voice of Mr. Jalakas keeps quite firm and convincing. However, those wails sound as if mumbled into the microphone and the chanting is a pretty weak attempt at a crossroad between Peter Steele and Burton C. Bell. Also, these quieter vocals could’ve used a bit more production work and pushing forth. Not only do they sound out like mumbles, but kept this low they are more a background murmur than actual words that should reach some audience.

Again, additional support in the form of a band, producer, label, and Mr. Jalakas would probably pay more attention to details concerning the promotion of his work. Like the fact that he is sending out an extremely quiet master as a press release. I have to turn the volume up all the way in order to even hear what’s going on. I had to check if my speakers were working properly. Thankfully, this version didn’t end up on the band’s Bandcamp page. And don’t even get me started on the cover artwork that probably took about four minutes to create.

All of the above because it’s rushed. Like ninety-nine percent of one-man bands. Patience doesn’t exist and therefore any potential that could’ve come out is vaporised in favour of getting each and every single thought out into the open as soon as possible.

The result, well, let me put it this way: Thunraz performs technical death metal, doom metal, post-punk, psychedelic industrial metal, grunge. No, I’m not exaggerating.


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