SPAN – Mass Distraction

Summary

Island Records
Release date: February 16, 2004

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User Review
8.7/10 (5 votes)

There are a lot of rock albums in this world who are extremely well known for one or two or a few outstanding tracks that alone have made the albums historical.

Norwegian Span’s debut album, Mass Distraction, contains three tracks that on their own lift this album to heights where very few debut albums have been before. “Found”, ”Don’t Think The Way They Do” and ”Papa” are all killer songs.

Even though anonymous tracks do appear, and the mellow/slow numbers never get above the average, Mass Distraction is such a powerful acquaintance. You will love it.

The aforementioned “Found” opens the party with some brilliant twin attacking vocals from singer/guitarist Jarle Bernhoft and guitarist Joff Nilsen. The words explode out of them, and the rest of the band kicks the song through whatever stands in its way. There’s too little vocal works like this in the world… and “Found” twists and turns, it dives regularly down into black calmness till it again and again erupts into a hard rock rocket launch.

Track two, “Don’t Think The Way They Do”, is another angry and awesome composition with an arrangement that conveys punching guitars and basses and drums with Bernhoft’s intense vocal on top.

“Papa” rocks and funks and grooves and leaves you numb. Sounding like it’s been penned by rock-funk-groove master Conny Bloom ( former Electric Boys singer/guitarist ) it is as important to this record as “Smoke On The Water” was to Machine Head.

Three other tracks, “On My Way Down”, “Buckle Under Pressure”, and “Baby’s Come Back” are great songs too. Not as excellent as the aforementioned three titles, but reasons enough on their own to make it worth investing in the album!

Produced by Gil Norton ( Foo Fighters / Pixies ), this album has been ready for release for more than a year. Due to reasons out of the hands of the band members, it’s been a long wait for those who have been looking forward to Span’s first long-play studio effort. Meanwhile there has been single releases ( Not one ballad, just what they do bets; hard rocking songs! Thanks! ) and a lot of gigs in Norway and the UK. Those who have witnessed the band live might be a bit surprised by this album’s lack of punk elements. Span sounds more fast, direct and rough and tough live than they do on Mass Distraction.

To my liking they could have brought more of that live energy into the studio. …By the way; NO, most of the tracks prove they’ve got energy enough, they just should have thrown the slow tunes out. “Missing In Stereo” is one of the mellow tunes that does get better after a while, but listening to it is just like having had a ride with a roller coaster and you are waiting in a queue for the next round. Not what you came for. An A-ha like violin arrangement gives the song a nice lift, but fails to bring it to memorable status.

Other songs: “Wildflower” is a catchy pop-rock tune, “Stay As You Are” brings occasionally your mind back to the 70’s, “When She Stares” sounds like Dokken being a bit experimental (!) ( a-la Shadowlife… ). These are all good songs, though the latter’s a bit uneven.

On the other hand, the bonus track “The End” ( on the disc I’ve got ) just won’t stick, even after several spins, and should have been left out. The ballad “Peaceful” is boring, and adds nothing to whatever you’ve heard before in your life.

Anyway. All together this album is one of the most promising debuts I’ve heard for a very long time. You’ll hear a lot from these guys in the year to come. Get to know them right away. Buy the album. See them live. Trust me. You won’t be disappointed. Actually, you’ll be so thankful for my advice you’ll be sending me Christmas cards for the rest of your life.

Metal Express will soon publish a interview ( in print ) with the band.

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