It’s not often I wake up in the morning with a penchant for avant-garde metal from Israel. Indeed this album, the fifth full-length release titled Katastroffa, took me a few attempts to really get into. Time, feel, and key changes abound in this storied act from the middle-east. Images of Midnight Peacocks playing to sweaty, hedonistic clubs with gorgeous belly-dancers on stage, certainly give one cause to track down one of their shows and soak up the chaos.
The aural atmospherics of Israel’s socio-political environment certainly come to the fore in Midnight Peacocks’ songs. Opening track “Tzar Bomba” is perhaps one of the strongest, with a solid bass and kick-drum sound driving the madness layered throughout the songs’ fabric. If similarity is to be made between Midnight Peacocks and other western avant-garde exponents, Mr Bungle would have to be high on the list. Less comparable genre-mates would likely include System of a Down, Dead Cross, PHILM and Karnivool.
Unfortunately, such a full and sonically balanced mix is not consistent throughout the albums track listing. Whilst the musicians are playing very heavy parts, the bottom-end to the mix is not always apparent. I couldn’t help feeling that this production choice wasted a great chance for an avant-garde album to truly surpass its own cliché (of being high-end frequency dominated).
That said, a very noteworthy aspect of Katastroffa is the cohesive precision of the rhythm section as it performs a massive amount of musical gymnastics. Eitan Radoshinski (vocals and bass), Guy Shem (guitar and backing vocals), and Yoav Zohar (drums) really are the epitome of a tight musical ensemble. Originally a three-piece known as The Plastic Peacocks, the additional ornamentation of violin, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, keyboards and piano (thanks to Yoni Silver) are really what gives Midnight Peacocks a very identifiable sound. Riffs that would be quite at home on Rage Against the Machine albums segue into cascading violin solos and saxophone blasts, which makes it a very fun listen. The poetry of Hezi Shohet is also an emerging aspect of the band on this album.
Katastroffa is definitely an impressive effort by an accomplished band. It is a jovial and exciting journey through a fascinating sub-genre. Unfortunately, additional information is hard for me to find as a lot of their information and biography is not in English. That said, Midnight Peacocks have an extensive photo gallery on their face-book page that really allows those non-Israeli speaking fans to get more of an insight into their world.
Written by Scott Andrews
*edited by Kate Erickson