EL CACO – The Search


Black Balloon Records
Release Date: March 3, 2005

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With their third album, The Search, El Caco has not only captured the very essence of their music, they have also put themselves and their label, Black Balloon Records, on the charts in Norway, and that’s nothing but an achievement!

El Caco is a classic power trio out of Lillestrøm, outside Oslo, Norway. Their expression is hard, fast, and powerful, but also diverse and lyrical. Oyvind Osa’s vocals is a key feature, along with the melodies, or rather the phrasing intervals, he serves up. Oyvind Osa also spanks the bass, and together with drummer Thomas Fredriksen, he forms a solid base for the sound and music. Completing the line up is Anders Gjesti, who brings his guitar sometimes up front as a solo instrument, but most of the time behind to push the pistons of his fellow backing musicians.

The Search is comprised of 11 songs plus one “hidden” surprise. These songs have elements of Stoner Rock, of Metal, of Punk, and sometimes of good old Rock ‘n’ Roll, although with a rather rough edge. The vocal arrangements, as far as backing vocals are concerned, sometimes resemble those of The Cranberries, but otherwise, their influences are (mostly) less apparent.

Starting with the hit “Someone New,” El Caco proves that they can make waves. It’s a rockin’ little bomb with a catchy chorus. the following track, “Stuck To Deteste,” is a speedy, Punkish piece, with distorted vocals and a very, very angry wrapping. Stand clear, because this one is bound to hit you in the face! With “Underneath,” they calm down quite a bit and serve up a song with plenty of those unique vocal phrasing intervals mentioned earlier. OK, so the chorus tastes a little like Red Hot Chili, but the main guitar riff is just so cool, and the dynamics are flabbergasting, making the “theft” easily forgiven.

“Fallen” has a lot of Metal and Stoner energy, and with sore and cracked up vocals (less melodic in the verse, but more melodic in the chorus), it has some of that feeling one could get from the earlier Motorpsycho (Norway) albums. The unison guitar and bass in the monotonous instrumental part before the final verse is indeed hypnotizing …

Track 5, “Substitute,” has much of the same hit potential as “Someone New,” with a slightly disharmonic, yet simple, main riff repeated over and over until the melodic chorus becomes the great relief. Also, this song has an instrumental part with some truly hypnotizing qualities, and Oyvind Osa’s vocal performance is outstanding, as is his performance on “Dislocated,” by the way. This song is more low-key, and it has a kind of David Lynch mystic, dreamy atmosphere, with an uplifting chorus. It’s a solid piece of work with a nice touch of acoustic guitar on the verse.

“Leaving” is a mid-tempo, energetic piece with the guitar and vocals pulling in different directions during the verse, but joining forces in the chorus. Undoubtedly, the song’s pure power emerges from this strange relationship. This power is somewhat carried on in “Lord It,” but this is also the album’s weaker song with its slightly anonymous melody. The guitar work is remarkable, though.

The up-tempo, triplet-style groove (actually a 6/8 figure) in “Straitjacket” gives the song a groovy, bouncy feel and that counterparts the melancholic melody line well. The outcome of this is dynamics and punch … plenty of punch … and with a dash of soft, muted guitar-plucking, you are kicked off into the aggressive “The Tender Sin,” which is in a Grungy color, along with its slightly Oriental guitar work. Oyvind Osa cries his lungs out with this one and man, it will send a chill down your neck!

The odd one out on The Search is also the last one out. “Down The Lake” is built around a mellotron and acoustic guitar figure, giving it a soft lullaby feel. Although in a quite traditional ballad format, this song carries forward a strong spirit and a sincere ability to play other than only loud. Even standing alone, this song has lots of potential in the timeless domain, but most of all it’s a respectful end of an outstanding album.

As far as the surprise is concerned, you will find it somewhere after “Down The Lake” …

The Search has a near perfect balance between loud and quiet, between up and down-tempo, between monotony and harmony, between uniformity and diversity, and between aparent influences and sheer originality. It may be too hard for some and too soft for others, but all in all, it has something to offer for everyone. Norway should be proud of El Caco and what they have done: Great job, lads!


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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