“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
— Isaac Newton’s Third Law Of Motion
Last week, my compatriot Mr. Danhammer Obstkrieg published an excellent thesis, in which he discussed the nature of creation and language, be that language verbal or musical, and wrapped all of it in a stellar review of Pyrrhon’s mindboggling, style-warping masterstroke What Passes For Survival. In a catalog filled with brilliant words, the words in that piece were among Danhammer’s most brilliantest, drafted with a vocabulary I clearly don’t share. I recommend that you read it, and I recommend that you listen to the album.
If within Danhammer’s words, and within Pyrrhon’s sounds, lies the action, then herein allow me – and Sweden’s Night – to provide the Newtonian reaction.
And know that only one of the four of us did this on purpose…
In his piece, Danhammer postulates that “a musical vocabulary constructs a certain kind of reality” (Obstkrieg, 2017, p. 1). And that’s very true – if your vocabulary is learned from an urban blighted landscape filled with harsh emotions, then your music will (should) reflect such. And if your vocabulary is learned from well-worn copies of Agents Of Fortune and Wheels Of Steel and Killers and Spellbound, plus a likely-copious amount of lager and smokes and smiles, then your music should reflect just that.
Where Danhammer quoted Dickens, Rushdie, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, and poet Rainer Maria Rilke, in perfunctory reaction, I’ll quote the opposite, and that would be, of course… junior-high cheerleaders.
“We’ve got spirit. /
Yes, we do./
We’ve got spirit./
How ‘bout you?”
Truthfully, here I must break briefly from my admittedly half-hearted scholastic/ridiculous angle: Night and Pyrrhon would never be compared were it not for this blog publishing these two pieces a week apart, and were it not for my idiocy. Still, though I must concede that it’s unfair to each band for me to do so, I’ll continue my thinking, and hope to prove both worthy in the end: If Pyrrhon’s beast of avant-garde, highbrow catharsis is an action, then Night’s Raft Of The World is an unintentional but very real reaction – not directly to Pyrrhon, of course, but to beasts of their nature. If Pyrrhon is of the brain – and they are – then Night is of the spirit. They’ve got spirit – yes, they do.
Put differently, some bands are made for analyzing, and some bands are just made for feeling. Night isn’t the kind of band that you need to think too deeply about – you just need to open the beer, turn up the volume, and press play. To again quote Obstkrieg, Raft Of The World and Night don’t “necessarily defy analysis, but [they] certainly deflect it” (ibid.) Pyrrhon deflects it into other questions, into thought, into the vast depth of darkness; Night deflects it into a shot of whiskey and who cares man rewind to that part that sounds like Dokken crossed with BOC and puff puff pass.
From the opening of “Fire Across The Sky” – a phased single note riff that comes uncomfortably close to “Edge Of Seventeen” but quickly shifts into a NWOBHM rager – it’s clear that Night trades mostly upon their spirit. Their aesthetic is wholly borrowed – from Saxon, from the Tygers Of Pan Tang, from Jaguar, from countless others, all blended together. Their performances are ragged, but exuberant – vocalist Oskar Andersson has the range and the tone, but it’s still very raw, though that’s a good thing. There’s much to love across the album’s run time – that finely reverbed floor tom groove in “Under The Gallows,” the High Spirits harmonies of “Time,” the Thin Lizzy-isms of “Time,” the spaghetti-western C&W vibe of “Coin In A Fountain.”
Raft Of The World is Night’s third album, and their best by a wide margin. The eponymous album and Soldiers Of Time were similar in style, but both were less interesting, more just-boring retro-NWOBHM copycat. Neither was bad, per se, but neither was anything above average. Compared to those earlier albums, Raft Of The World is a marked step towards the organic, away from pure NWOBHM worship and into a hybrid territory of that vaunted movement and a more classic 70s rock, and all for the better.
Raft Of The World likely isn’t going to launch Night into the stratosphere, but it’s fun, and it’s a definite improvement, and if you don’t think too hard about it, it’s a very enjoyable album, the kind of thing I find myself returning to whenever I specifically don’t want to think and just want to rock. To come back around to the cheerleaders, it’s an album defined wholly by its spirit, by that intangible rock ‘n’ roll energy that permeates its being and creeps forth from the speakers to remind you that, yes, you’ve heard this before, but, yes, you like it because, yes, it rocks. It’s got spirit; yes, it does.
In truth, at the end of this, I must fully concede again that neither band was deserved of this wholly unbalanced and purely self-serving juxtaposition, except in this sense: Some things are for thinking about; some things have a certain depth; and some things aren’t and don’t. The universe provides one; the universe balances with the other. Sometimes you want to unpeel the layers, to dig deep, to learn something about the world and yourself. And sometimes you just have to rock, man. For those latter times, there are bands like Night. They’ve got spirit; yes, they do.
They’ve got spirit.
How ‘bout you?