FREAKS AND CLOWNS – Freaks and Clowns

FREAKS AND CLOWNS - Freaks and Clowns
  • 8/10
    FREAKS AND CLOWNS - Freaks and Clowns - 8/10


Label: Metalville
Release date: October 18, 2019

User Review
8.5/10 (1 vote)

People for whom metal is a confection of denim, leather and cod-operatic vocals could do worse than listen to this album. In fact, Freaks and Clowns’ eponymous effort is so crammed with trad-metal ticks that the lack of an accompanying 12-inch picture disc and free fold-out poster comes as something of a surprise.  Nonetheless, the Swedish 5-piece behind these songs are so charmingly transparent about their influences that any quibbles quickly become moot. The message is it’s retro, it rocks, and if it’s not your thing, there’s the door.

Fortunately, metalheads with a degree of respect for the genre’s heritage will find plenty to enjoy here. Opener “Demons in Disguise” sets the tone for the whole album, its riotous Halford/Byford-esque vocals supplying the sandpaper to the smooth, sinewy surface of the songs. Chorused guitars and pedal tone riffing fill out the solo sections, while the presence of neo-classical sweep licks echoes 80s guitar heroes such as George Lynch and Yngwie Malmsteen.

Without the novelty of variety, an entire album’s worth of this kind of retromania may fatigue even the most persistent of listeners. But the band bring enough swing and energy to the songs to quell any murmurs of discontent. Title track “Freaks and Clowns” and “All Hell’s Breaking Loose” are cases in point: tight but loose drumming from skinsman Johan Lindstedt backs suitably trashy lyrics that recall many a celebration of metal’s “otherness”.

The album rounds off with two of the strongest tracks – “Breaking All The Rules” and “Tell It To The Priest.” The first begins with the main riff introduced at the top of the song –  a satisfying stylistic retread of many metal motifs from the age of Thatcher and Reagan – before launching into an anthemic celebration of the virtues of rock and roll. The second’s combination of palm-muted riffs and sleazy confessional make for an absorbing listen, even if the reference points are clearly signposted.

If this album does nothing else, it kicks open the doors to the DeLorean and heads for 1985 without even a distant echo of apology. For some bands teetering on the line between creativity and pastiche, this might be a problem, but Freaks and Clowns have enough reverence for the source texts to make this less an exercise in self-indulgence than it is a celebration of big hair and bigger melodies.


  • Dan Whittle

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been a music fan since his mother introduced him to the piano at the age of 5. That she introduced him is no real guide to whether he could play it, "as anyone who had the misfortune to hear my hamfisted plonking would readily testify," says Dan. Abandoning his nascent career as a pianist, he turned, instead, to listening to as many albums as he could lay his hands on. The first, halting steps, were of the novelty record variety; but gradually he found his niche. After a brief, abortive flirtation with indie, he heard Clutching at Straws by Marillion and that was it. These days his tastes are on the catholic side, but whiling away a few hours listening to ambitious guitar music (especially of the progressive variety) is still amongst his favorite activities.   Oh, and if anyone's wondering, he did learn the piano and the guitar in the end...

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