Review Summary: A weird but fun mix of electronic and metal music by the masters themselves.
Whourkr is an experimental metal/cybergrind band from France. If you’re wondering what I mean by “cybergrind”, it is when you take grindcore and then add electronic noises and drum machines. When I was first looking into this genre, I started with some of the top artists and one of them caught my attention. I saw the funny name, Whourkr, and the silly artist picture and I just had to see what this was all about. Needless to say, I was blown away.
In their third full album, 4247 Snare Drums, Whourkr have toned things down a notch or two from Concrete. That isn’t exactly a bad thing, but if you’re a fan of the weirdness from their last album you might be slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s their heaviest yet while still having that Whourkr charm, but at the same time it’s slightly “normal” sounding and thus easier to get into. Whourkr’s lineup also changed once again as Mulk comes along and introduces guttural growls similar to their debut Naät. He also plays the saxophone (more on that later) and bass. Igorrr, the core of the band, handles the guitar, drums, and electronics.
The album kicks off with “Quadruple Plis de Peau” which has a calm intro but then quickly explodes into an audio assault. Other songs like ”Petits Poneaux” feature unexpected tempo changes and elements of glitch music along with moments where the drums become most prominent. The vocals may immediately catch your attention as they are digitally chopped up in ways you’d never imagine. Usually, he uses regular death growls, other times they are altered electronically the way a hip-hop artist would do that scratching thing with turn tables. I don’t know if that’s what they really did, but that’s certainly how it sounds. The lyrics are gibberish and random noises so don’t try to look them up (the way I did when I first discovered the band, looking like a fool in the process). Because of this, the vocals behave as an instrument that drives the songs along with the guitar. “Ostina”, however does deviate with vocals as it features Öxxö Xööx , who uses opera singing. It’s one of the most unique tracks here because of that. On the entire album, guitars are mostly dirty death metal riffs that are sometimes electronically altered. Regardless, they always follow a catchy melody. Seriously, they will get stuck in your head, which rarely happens for me. This especially becomes apparent in the less chaotic tracks like “Polygroin”.
The saxophone is used for solos. Some songs like “Gastro-equestre” start off with solos then get down and dirty later with crushing riffs and the occasional breakdown. Others like “Polygroin” build up to an epic ending where the sax is digitally chopped up with chugging guitars in the background complementing each other perfectly. The drumming Igorrr does is programmed but this isn’t just anyone using a drum machine. Like his solo work, he incorporates breakcore, (which is like jungle, hardcore techno, and IDM mixed together in a fast and complex style). The drums are one of the best parts of the album as they never do one thing for too long and always stay interesting. The bass does stand out but it’s hard to tell what it’s exactly doing, possibly because of the production (more later). The music is bass heavy, but that’s the inherent nature of electronic music. Electronics are present in all songs adding effects, creating atmospheric openings as in “Pachyderm Catapult”, or completely taking over, as in “Maximum Speed Limit Monotone Snare Audition”. No matter what’s going on, it all flows together, unlike Concrete which had sections where you could tell the band didn't really know what to do. Pretty much, they traded off a little bit of experimentation for a more put together album and it worked.
Here’s the bad part. The production for this album is bit weird. The vocals seem a bit high in the mix which isn’t exactly bad, since they behave like instruments, but I wish the guitars were louder. You can certainly hear the riffs, but they can get drowned out by vocals at times. The drums are a bit quieter than they should be too, which is too bad as they are the most refined part.
Overall, I love this album. It’s not perfect as the mixing could have been a bit different but it still has the perfect mix between metal and electronica with good vocals, memorable riffs, excellent and complex drumming, and avant-garde elements. It also Whourkr’s most “normal” album so far. If you want to see what these guys are all about, pick this up.
- Originally written as CrazyMecha, February 8th, 2013 for Metal-archives.com