Imperial Wax - Gastwerk Saboteurs - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Imperial Wax - Gastwerk Saboteurs

by Kevin Orton Rating:7 Release Date:2019-05-17
Imperial Wax - Gastwerk Saboteurs
Imperial Wax - Gastwerk Saboteurs

Named after the album, Imperial Wax Solvent, Imperial Wax are not doing an easy thing. After essentially being the Fall for the past 11 years, they’ve decided to strike out on their own after Mark E. Smiths’ unfortunate demise. There’s no question that they’re good. All you have to do is listen to the last few Fall records. Question is, are they compelling lyrically and vocally? Frontmen and lyricists like Mark E Smith don’t grow on trees.

Well, vocally the frontman reminds me a bit of Wire’s Colin Newman. Lyrically, they’re far from a letdown but certainly are no Mark E. Smith. Musically, things reside where you would expect. ‘Art of Projection’ is a strong opener, the blistering, ‘Turncoat’ and even stronger follow-up. ‘Saying Nothing’ keeps up the ante. Then we get the brief instrumental indulgence of ‘Wax On’. Why do bands do this? Who the fuck wants to listen to these noodling interludes? It's repeated again with 'Wax Off.' When Imperial Wax just gets down to business, the results are winning. ‘Plant The Seed’ is infectious Post Punk. ‘Barely Getting By’ and ‘Rammi Taxi Illuminati’ take no prisoners. ‘No Man’s Land’ is another strong track but one reminded of Mark E. Smith’s copious absence. 

As for the rest, it's all good. But there isn’t much variety in terms of tempo or approach. Every tune is upbeat and driving. The album ends on a nine-minute instrumental which makes for a less than satisfactory send-off. These kind of long jam tracks are no doubt interesting for the band playing them. Less so for the consumer. While this band may feature the longest serving members of any line up of the Fall, it’s great to hear them carry on and stretch their wings. Of course, Fall comparisons are inevitable. Yet, its clear Imperial Wax are out to assert themselves. Gastwerk Saboteurs is a promising start, but they have a way to go before standing apart from their legacy and the late great Mark E. Smith. Here's to more from these guys.

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