Insightful review of our new album: Red Black White
by METAL NEWS FRANCE
Without cheating and watching Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Metallum, are you able to name a band or an artist from Cyprus? Yes, no, me neither, and as much to say that this novelty of the Danish label Mighty Music arranges me well to locate this country on the world musical map. Always eager for new, this famous record company has just made a good coup by signing the largest group of Rock Cypriot, but it would be inappropriate to consider this operation from a commercial point of view, even if the objectives of both parts seem clear. It must be said that taking into account the course of MINUS ONE, it is difficult to be objective and only artistic, since it seems that the only obsession of this quintet is to be known outside its borders, regardless of the or the means. And the best way for them to exhibit internationally on a large scale was to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, like France Gall or ABBA before them. Already selected in 2015 to participate in the national finals, they were chosen in 2016 without going through the preselections to interpret “Alter Ego”, and unfortunately finish in the twenty-first place. But in spite of this apparent failure, the title eventually became a virtual hit with credibility, and contaminate Spotify and iTunes, to the point of turning this modest place into a digital triumph, launching them definitively as the fashionable Cypriot attraction. But despite all these popularity and promotional considerations, it would be deeply unfair to deny the musical qualities that MINUS ONE exhibited throughout this first album, which is as seductive melodically as it is outrageously popular in the background and form.
Yes, the intrinsic desire of these five musicians (Christopher Ioannides – drums, Constantinos Amerikanos & Harrys Pari – guitars, Max-o-Matic – bass and Andreas Kapatais – vocals) is to please the greatest number, and to be able to continue to pace the world (they have already shot in England, in the USA, in Greece of course, but also in Italy, Austria or Russia) to play their music enthusiastically in front of increasingly compact crowds. But what harm is there when the music is exuberant, positive, and perfectly pleasant? Certainly, and sticking to a purist Hard Rock context, it is difficult to affiliate Cypriots to a particular niche, since they seem to eat at all racks, but ethics being what it is, and so terribly subjective, that it should be put aside when listening to this album which is nothing less than a mine of hits, and which aligns the anthemic refrains with an assurance worthy of the best representatives of the genre. Therefore, no need to blame them for this intention to federate, since they succeed, and if the promotional arguments are addressed to the fans of HEAT, ECLIPSE, IMAGINE DRAGONS and MUSE, the reality of the facts is a little more complex than these few pithy comparisons intended to flatter lovers of bombastic melodies in the direction of the hair. In fact, and without looking for absolute acuity that is not appropriate, it could easily be said that Red White Black uses a modern alternating Metal frame to embroider Pop themes of formidable efficiency, and thus sound like a huge crossover between the MADINA LAKE, THE STRUTS, DIAMANTE, THE HARDKISS and ECLIPSE, the quintessence of a subtly electro Rock intended to make the audience dance and sing in chorus in paradise. Impossible to deny this reality, but in essence, and being lenient on the most typical aspect of the record, this first album of the natives of Cyprus is as exciting as it is generic, and as much to admit that one willingly dodeline the chef on more than one occasion while listening to their songs.
And they put all the assets on their side to succeed their mission. First, by entrusting Soren Andersen’s production to Medley Studio (Mike TRAMP, Glenn HUGHES, ARTILLERY), who knitted them a huge sound, with swollen bass and sharp guitars, and taking care of all aspects of composition, imposing cunning verses arising on choruses certainly a hair worn, but intergenerational reasons that leave you breathless with admiration. So much intelligence in the background, and the relevance in the action, since even tracking down the slightest mistake of course, impossible to identify the slightest weakness in this building to the unity of peoples. While it is obvious that most fans of Metal will approach the thing with circumspection, part of the fringe reader of this webzine will not fail to adhere to the subject, and this, from “The Greatest”, which from his intro Electro and its beefy beat whips you with its finely tuned concrete riff of attenuated acoustics. It is clear from the start that the Cypriot quintet has designed its compositions in the event of a live, and the effectiveness of these in situ is palpable as the speakers vibrate of pleasure to the sound of these hymns to freedom and pleasure to play a music without banner for a promotion without barrier. We find here the group we had liked to discover in the stilted context of Eurovision, always as talented, and “How Does It Feel” to confirm that the olibrius are, and able to give birth to golden hits, mixing the ferocious guitars and the rhythms not really pissed. No nastiness in the file, just a huge desire to share, and if Scandinavian art for entangled harmonies is constantly celebrated, we also find elements of up-to-date American music in music stamped 2K, for a farandole of sounds and sensations certainly polished to the core, but very effective and pretty disheveled not to be cute.
And if the cover recalls the “School’s Out” COOP without the panties vulgar, the TWISTED SISTER of “I Wanna Rock” or the MÖTLEY of “Smokin ‘In The Boys Room”, none of these historical references found asylum on this first album that prefers to become embedded in its time than to go for the retrograde accommodated. But here and there we come across some pretty clever Hard-Pop, played with a perfectly English phlegmatic flippancy (“Red Black White”, which the STRUTS could have imposed on the Queen on their last LP), before sliding on sweet alternative who has a lot of fun translating the language of a STONE TEMPLE PILOT into a teen magazine idiom of today (“Girl”). So beautiful work, and songs calibrated to the note, not to sound too abrupt, but rough enough not to alienate the most unleashed public (“Run Away”). We also think of a Nordic AOR relocated to Cyprus and expurgated of its preciousness, replaced by accesses Bluesy trivialized (“You Do not Own Me”), but to tell the truth, one does not think much, and one content to appreciate, that the atmosphere is intimate and cozy (“Sometimes”, a little forced but just sweet enough), or jumpy and conducive to a kindly shameless party (“Take Me Away”, not really Rock, but a pleasure guilty easy to assume). But the result is there, and thanks to the support of a label of the caliber of Mighty Music, the MINUS ONE will finally be able to explode on the international scene, making the crowds sweat and sweat in the cool. The most embittered will talk about fast-food music, and the less compliant Hard-Pop pleasant, but no matter the labels, since Red White Black is a pleasure to take off.