Reviews for Beyond the Wasteland...
The Ripple Effect
Someday in the future, when they've demolished the world and taken over each nation with their impassioned brand of fuzzed-out, monster-riff stoner rock, it'll be possible to talk about Brain Police without mentioning that they're from Iceland. But until then, the boys of BP, as they're known by their legions of fans, will have to get used to the rest of the world constantly referring to their country of origin.July 4th, 2008www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com
Why? Well, there aren't too many places as foreign or remote to America as Iceland. Even the name conjures up fantastic images of prehistoric worlds or sci-fi planets (of course, those of us in the know learned a long time ago that Iceland has been named with Norway the most developed Nation in the world and enjoys a greater amount of economic freedom and civil liberties than we do in the USA, but I digress). Still, it's relative remoteness lends a certain romantic imagination about the island nation. Adding to that, the only popular Icelandic musical exports have been the Sugarcubes, Bjork and Sigur Ros, not necessarily what you'd call full on kick in the balls rawk and roll. So, I think I can be forgiven for suddenly being floored that the monolithic riffs blasting out of the Ripple speakers come from just south of the Arctic circle.
But, motherfucker, they do.
And what a godly assault of vertebrae rocking stoner metal it is. Huge in their native land, racking up top ten singles and being praised as one of Iceland's greatest band, the Brain Police have been a tightly kept secret outside Icelandic shores. But not any more. Now signed to Small Stone Recordings and benefiting from world-wide distribution, the word is getting out in a big way. And here at the Ripple office, we got the disc baby and we're gonna tell the world what the good folks of Reykajavik already know. BP rules.
Playing a pure brand of groovy-bottomed, stoned heavy rock, Brain Police is a direct assault of turbocharged, high energy, 70's riff maddened rock and roll. Give it a listen and it'll hook you as effortlessly as it hooked me. Two seconds into the opening track, "Rooster Booster," I was already grooving to the stuttering riff, dropping down with the perfect bass heavy groove. This is stoner rock for the highways, an anthem to the open road and unexplored spaces that needs to be made the lead-off cut on any roadtrip compilation playlist ever to be recorded. I defy you to plunge into that tune without once, not once, grooving your head in a headbobbing salute to the masters. If you can, then you're just wound up too tight. Jens Olafsson's vocals tinge with just the right amount of melodic gruffness to be smooth, yet rough, and don't even get me started on Bui Bendtsen's fuzzed out brief but effective guitar solo.
Perhaps no other songs sums up what the boys are about better than "Hot Chicks and Hell Queens," a blistering, nitro-fueled explosion of riff, bass and thundering drums. Here, the boys lay out their life philosophy, their reason for existence. After screaming to take over your women, they lay it out. "Please be there/we're all slaves to the sound/this is all there is/this is all we need," Olafsson sings over the unfaltering poundng beat belted out by drummer Jon Bjoran Rikardsson and Hordur Ingi Stefansson on bass. The song is passion in action, a thunderburst of stoner metal. Women and music, baby. Women and music.
Bearing all the expected stoner rock influences, shades of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, plus an untold load of seventies riffmeisters, I've heard people complain that the genre of stoner rock is a redundancy, hairy guys belting out recycled seventies riffs. To paraphrase my good friend at peacedogman.com I say, "hang tight, grampaw." Brain Police aren't reinventing the wheel here, there playing rock and roll. What matters is the musicality that they bring to the scene, the intensity and honesty with which they belt it out. Forget the past, that doesn't matter anymore. All that matters is the sound coming to you right now. And to that regard, we have deemed it good. Fucking good.
"Black Tulip,' rages back, swirls of Fender Rhodes swirling underneath the distorted blues-inflected riff. "Thunderbird," by all rights should be a stoner rock classic, a can't miss looping bassline pinned under a swooping, slightly spaced riff and cosmic tones. Olafsson gives his best vocal performance, his holding of tone perfect, locked into the tight melody. "Snake," lurches out with a fantastically distorted bass groove, the snare popping on top before the first shades of fuzzed guitar layer on. Then the song takes off straight into a chorus that you'll find yourself humming days after you've last played it. "Mystic Lover," rocks with space guitar supernovas, "The Baron," is a full on assault of riff, rhodes and melody. "Leo," circles somewhere around the constellation cannabis, while "Master Volume," brings in the tones of the Sabbath forefathers of it all. There's not a weak track here, all the way to the closer "Sweet Side of Evil." It's all just one blissed out heavy rock ride.
For those who've become a bit jaded to the stoner scene, afraid it's all been done and played out. I got news for you. As long as there are beards, bongs and garages loaded with amps and effect pedals, the scene won't go away. Too many of us get off on that crazy groove of stoner rock done right. If you look hard enough, you'll find there are still boys out there, fueled with passion and a jet fuel load of energy, who can still bring it on home. Even if that home is in Iceland.
Quick - how many artists, metal or otherwise, can you name from Iceland? Well let's see, there's Bjork... and... Bjork? Hmm, it seems like Iceland is criminally overlooked in the global musical world. As the country goes, so goes the citizens as the subject of this review, the Brain Police have been kicking around for over ten years now and have released now less than four full length albums! Already a big band in their home country, hopefully signing with an American label will get this band some more exposure!
Why am I pulling for them you may ask? Because Brain Police fucking rock, that's why! Firmly within on the stoner side of things, and seemingly enamoured with '70s music, Brain Police churn ahead with a thick-riffed sound, buoyed with fuzzy guitars and charismatic vocals. Seriously, Jens Olafsson's performance on this album is one of the best I've heard in stoner metal. He, like the band, harkens back to all things '70s without sounding derivative of anyone specific. If I didn’t know better, BEYOND THE WASTELAND could be an unearthed classic from 1976, from the production on down to the vocals and riffs. Besides which, the band can do it all, straight ahead bulldozers ("Rooster Booster", "Mystic Lover") and more introspective, atmospheric songs ("Leo", 'Thunderbird").
Like I said, Brain Police are criminally underrated on a global scale. BEYOND THE WASTELAND is proof of that. Stoner rock fans need to search this one out - you'll not regret it.
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Reviewer: WaspmanJune, 2008www.metal-rules.com
The Icelandic stoner rockers are back with another CD. This band has produced quite a few now but most have only been released in Iceland. I did not hear Glacier Sun (1st) or Electric Fungus (3rd) so I can only compare to the self-titled second one. The band has added a guy who plays Hammond and Fender Rhodes as well on a few tracks. Anyway…
I think the band is getting more psychedelic, which is a good thing. Rooster Booster starts things off and these guys really stick with the classic stoner rock groove and riff. Not that original but it sucks you right in. It's all about the riff. While on the previous record there were virtually no guitar solos, a few rudimentary ones are here. No great lead guitarist in this band but they are trying a bit now, anyway… It's all about the riff… Hot Chicks and Hell Queens picks up the speed and is harder hitting like Nebula. Black Tulip is next and a very heavy stoner blues track. The singer is really great and intense on this one and it features a cool organ solo at the end as the song really pounds! Thunderbird is a great track. A bit of Kyuss at times with the vocal style but a cool stoned vibe and feel on this one. Dozer fans will like it. Mystic Lover is a bit spacey and melodic. Singer is fucking passionate… The Baron again features the keyboard guy here and there… This is probably the radio track. Human Volume slows things down and the organ helps to fill in the bottom end. The band takes their time on this track and lets it build up slowly and has a nice stoney vibe… Beyond the Wasteland has a really cool groove to it and a little effect on the voice to give it a different sound. The CD ends with the Sweet Side of Evil… They go out with a blast… If you dig Stoner rock, then these guys serve up a full platter of Icelandic stoner music for you to consume. Not that original but tasty none the less. Great CD…
- Scott HellerAural Innovations #39 (May 2008)www.aural-innovations.com
First of all, I would just like to state that I am glad there really isn’t any brain police. Is there? If there is, I would like to publicly state that her I.D. said she was 22. In my mind. Anyway, onto the rock. Icelanders, these, although they have somehow disguised themselves to look like the local troublemakers in some rural town in South Dakota. The sound? Well, it sounds like a tractor pull, just like you think it does. Occasionally the fellas build up enough steam to proffer favorable comparisons to “Loud Love” era Soundgarden (“Black Tulip”!), but I’m pretty sure they’re quite happy simply mining Kyuss for inspiration and keeping it, you know, street level. Thrill seekers should probably keep seeking, but dope rock diehards will surely nod in woozy appreciation.
I love Iceland for its landscapes and for its myths and history. This is one of the very rare places on this earth, where one still can find and discover untamed nature and areas, which no one ever touched before. In opposite to my knowledge about the nature of Iceland, I don't know anything about bands from there, who are playing Doom Metal or Heavy Rock. This changed when I received the new album of BRAIN POLICE, who are coming from the land of ice and snow. The band was formed in 1998 and they recorded four albums until Small Stone Records dicovered and signed them. 'Beyond The Wasteland' is the band's debut for Detroit's finest label and it marks a brilliant start into the new year 2008. After I have listened for weeks to this album I still ask myself how a band this incredible has managed to slip through unnoticed is beyond me. BRAIN POLICE delivering 11 tracks that are fuzz-driven, heavy and irresistible, at times reminiscent of early 70's heavy rock. To write down a few words for each of the songs of the release or even half of them would be an exhausting process of band name-dropping.
Let me just say BRAIN POLICE does everything better than most of the bands in the underground when it comes to the so-called genre of stonerrock. Very often the band blur the line between that style and good old vintage 70's heavy rock as in the opener 'Rooster Booster' and here are so many more examples for this musical ability. Jens Ólafsson's vocals are passionate, powerful and concise, augmented perfectely by Búi Bendtsen's blazing guitar style. Drummer J.B. Rikardsson and bassist H.I. Stefànsson build a steamrolling rhythm section, which pack a powerful dynamic punch that moves the whole album at a varied pace. Oh yes, variety is one of the trademarks of 'Beyond The Wasteland' and additional guest musician Porir Baldursson diversifies a few songs with hammond organ and Fender rhodes piano. You don't have too wait very long until the album ramrods its melodies into your long-term memory, that truly showcases the band's excellent songwriting talents. BRAIN POLICE is a band that's continuing the tradition of genuine sweaty soulful heavy rock in the most effective way. A stunning album, which should be part of your music collection as soon as possible!
-KKMarch 1st, 2008www.cosmiclava.com
Up until the release of their fourth album, Beyond the Wasteland, in January of 2008 by Small Stone records, Icelandic stoner rockers Brain Police were quite the well-kept secret -- largely anonymous beyond the shores of their island nation, even while celebrating a full decade of activity. But perhaps this state of geographic isolation actually had something to do with preserving their pure, '90s-flavored stoner rock in all its pristine, untainted glory, at a time when, worldwide, bands involved with the once vital underground movement had largely moved on to other styles (or, more commonly, gone extinct). Not so, it seems, the Brain Police, whose songs effortlessly ride high-energy, monster grooves like Fu Manchu or Dozer ("Black Tulip"), flip on the turbo chargers à la Nebula or Unida ("Hot Chicks & Hell Queens") when needed, or simply blast off like Monster Magnet or Kyuss disciples Lowrider (see the space guitar swoops of "Thunderbird" and "Mystic Lover"). They also whip out some unexpected Fender Rhodes for "Snake" and "The Baron," then ease off the throttle for the gravity defying space walk "Leo," the more earth-bound, mighty-riffed "Human Volume," and striking opener "Rooster Booster," which shares both its deliberate gait and spacious atmosphere with the earliest Black Sabbath LPs. Needless to say, though, Brain Police aren't bringing much originality to the table here; just carrying off some tried-and true formulas to perfection, and providing a loop in the space-time continuum for those wishing to relive the '90s stoner rock scene before the rot set in. There's a lot worse one could do with their music-buying dollar.
-Eduardo RivadaviaFebruary 29th, 2008www.allmusic.com
Ah, stoner rock – music from hot dry countries, wide open spaces with few signs of life or habitation for miles in every direction. Almost exactly like where Brain Police are from, with one exception – Iceland isn't exactly the hottest part of the world.
For Brain Police are indeed from Iceland, and have scored top ten hits there. They also come heartily recommended by one of the chilly nations' best known musical exports; personally, I was a touch surprised to find that Jonsi of Sigur Ros is a fan of old-school riff metal, but listening to 'Beyond The Wasteland' it's clear that he knows quality music when he hears it, whatever the genre.
Because, make no mistake, Brain Police make one of the most authentic stoner rock rackets you'll hear anywhere. Everything a fan of the style could possibly want is here, but with no unnecessary extras, no frills and filigree. Just straight-up riffs, polished to a dark black shine in keys as low as a guitar will tune without being fitted for extra strings; thundering drums and bass creating a rhythm as hypnotic and powerful as the beat of truck tyres on a long desert highway; bluesy melodic solos and lead hooks. Leading the group into battle are the Wyndorf-esque psychedelic howls and roars of frontman Jens Olafsson – who you'd think as likely to be a refugee of early 70's California as noughties Iceland, to judge by his singing. He has a superb voice, full of character and gruff rock credibility.
So, the sound is spot on, right down to some muted cowbell, that distancing reverb on the vocals and warm fuzzy distortion all over the instruments. Not to mention classic stoner rock song titles like 'Hot Chicks and Hell Queens', 'Human Volume' and the eponymous 'Beyond The Wasteland'. The overall effect is something like what we might have got had Kyuss been a homage rather than a pastiche.
The one thing Brain Police aren't going to do is convert the sceptics. Anyone who is predisposed to thinking that retro riff-rock is lumpen musical revivalism will find little to convince them otherwise, and will wander off muttering clichés about bongs and blacklight posters. Sadly for them, they'll have missed the point. There's a timeless glory in the thrum and blatter of a proper stoner band, and Brain Police deliver the goods. So come take a journey 'Beyond The Wasteland'.
Paul Raven February 3rd, 2008www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk
Daredevil Records (Germany)
Brain Police are the biggest surprise in this month. I know some songs from that Iceland based band, but with BEYOND THE WASTELAND they did their masterwork! They got nominated for some awards in their country (and won for best band, best song, best singer!) and played their with all the big names. Metallica, Mastodon and many more! And it is a masterpiece in the Stoner Rock genre! Brain Police sounds fresh, groovy and full of melodic parts. The opener ROOSTER BOOSTER is a midtempo groover with excellent vocals and the following HOT CHICKS & HELL QUEENS is fast punching track who will bang your head! BLACK TULIP sounds like an HERMANO track and kicks ass! THUNDERBIRD features a mighty riff and over all thrones the great vocals from Jens! Highlight on a huge output is LEO, emotional and with some Grunge influences. BEYOND THE WASTELAND is another great track. The band will play the STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND this year and they plan a 3 week tour with mighty Dozer! Soon, I think this band will be soon the leader of the Stoner Rock genre! This band rocks! It is a 10 out of 10 point release! And I really don't give that rating! Everything fits perfect (from the songs, musicians to the artwork, packing) on BEYOND THE WASTELAND! KILLER!
Music: Stoner Rock
Info: 11 Songs / 49 minutes
JochenJanuary 9th, 2007www.daredevilrecords.de
The Cutting Edge
These Icelandic gods of stoner rock return with their fourth installment into the darkened depths of molten magma. Leaving the murky sewer of their old contract and signing this time to Detroit label Small Stone means they get wider distribution and universal attention for their plodding grooves and bludgeoning riffs. Beyond The Wasteland is eleven essential ball-busting tracks delivered as only the men from the land of ice and snow can. Big chunks of blues metal come flying out of “Rooster Booster” with the ‘70s soaked “Thunderbird” and bass-driven title cut “Beyond The Wasteland” embracing the swelling density of Sabbath’s finest moments. The foursome turn and burn through a galloping rumble in “Hot Chicks & Hell Queens” and pound the tundra with “Black Tulip” while vocalist Jens Ólafsson bellows “I got the blues / it’s getting me down” shaking the rafters. The four-piece change pace with the Janis Joplin inspired “Snake” which embraces the melodic swagger of “Move Over” and shakes off the dust with the inclusion of keyboards.
“Mystic Lover” absolutely sells the record. The song boasts a garagey riff with tambourine fills and a wailing guitar solo that’s both hair raising and fuzzy. The modern rocker “The Baron” might echo of Foo Fighters, but its screaming organ fadeout is positively stunning. Never shying away from their Desert rock admiration is the swaying “Leo” that reaches its climax in a six-minute Ozzy frenzy. “Master Volume” leads in with a bass intro that collides head-on with a wall of guitars and crashing drums. The song may not be the strongest in the lot, but its title fits as the volume goes up. The disc closes with the numbing “Sweet Side of Evil” falling somewhere between b-side Fu Manchu and old school Cult. All the way back to “Jacuzzi Suzy” the band proved they could write radio rock with a majestic presence and with Beyond The Wasteland they deliver by the handfuls. Fans of 2004’s Electric Fungus will dig the band’s progression in sound and production.January 7th, 2008www.thecutting-edge.net
"Who are the brain police?" Frank Zappa asked that question back in 1966. Whatever he thought the answer might be, I doubt if he considered that it was a classic heavy riffrock band from Iceland; after all, even Frank didn't know everything.
It's too bad Frank couldn't have lived to hear these guys, because despite his intellectual leanings he was also able to appreciate good rawkin' every once in awhile; witness his involvement with Grand Funk!
Which is where the Brain Police come in. They formed back in 1998 on the little volcanic island of Iceland, and unbeknownst to most of the world, they've been rocking the heavy riff ever since. In fact this is my first exposure to them, but I'm hoping they'll send me their back catalog, because this is some classic hard rocking ensemble playing, and we all know that any fan of The Heavy can never get enough of THAT. Instantly accessible, they've got a gift for melody and evidently do not suffer from bloated self-images, because ego opportunities like guitar solos are always short and to the point and always in the service of the melody. So good on 'em!
'Rooster Booster' has a classic FM sound that seems to combine Mountain with Dozer, with a short, tasteful, fuzzy guitar solo. 'Thunderbird' boasts some killer drums and is the song most obviously influenced by Kyuss. 'Snake' showcases a bit of the old Fender Rhodes, and 'Sweet Side of Evil' sounds like something John Garcia might get involved in after a three-day bender. Nice.
OK, so you've heard something like it before, but if your collection boasts the likes of Greenleaf, Dozer, Sgt. Sunshine, Asteroid, Blowback, Unida, Hermano, Nebula, Sparzanza, Josiah, Frame and Honcho, then push 'em all over to the side and make room for Brain Police. It’s the least you can do.
Kevin McHugh December 17, 2007www.hellridemusic.com
With Iceland's Brain Police, I was at first sort of surprised the band released their latest on the Detroit home to the likes of Acid King, The Brought Low, and Sasquatch. Beyond the Wasteland is the sort of stoner rock you expect from the Nordic region – aggressive riffs tempered with melody and as catchy as crabs in a $10 whorehouse. The strong Kyuss affiliation goes with saying, with fourth track "Thunderbird" being the main culprit. In short, Brain Police is the type of band you cite as a competent example of the genre, but not exactly Small Stone caliber.
But this was before I let songs like "Hot Chicks & Hell Queens," "Black Tulip," "Mystic Lover," The Soundgardeny "Leo," the title track, and yes, even "Thunderbird" sink in. Brain Police may not be offering anything truly new, but Beyond the Wasteland still has plenty of good music to it. These tracks are instantly accessible, and more importantly, I could remember them long after I stopped playing the album. And compared to past releases, Beyond the Wasteland is by far the best material Brain Police has released.
Small Stone's been on tear the last couple of years, and 2007 is closing on a reasonably strong note with Brain Police. Sure, I don't think Beyond the Wasteland is going to top anyone's best of lists, but it still meets the definition of "good."
John PegoraroDecember 8th, 2007www.stonerrock.com