Long Distance Calling – Trips

Posted by vibrations on 07-06-16

There’s a lot of music out there. So much so that a band can be going for ten years, have a series of studio albums, perform at Rock Am Ring and collaborate with the former vocalist of Anthrax and you can have not an idea about their existence. I guess we can get a bit anglo-centric when it comes to music, so it seems of the times to discover a band from Germany that have been doing all the above in a prog metal post rock manner and yet… I have no idea about, and it turns out I might have been missing out.

First off, Long Distance Calling’s new album, Trips, looks to be a departure from their modus operandi in that there is a lot more vocal work and a lot less pure instrumental work, not to say the instrumental isn’t there – in fact, it opens with the mostly instrumental ‘Getaway’, whose motorik beat and eighties fantasy synths conjure up images of eighties TV series titles where characters turn to the camera and smile confidently before cutting to a scene of an exploding yacht… or where inconceivably blonde barbarians control animals or rocks or trees or something – simpler times. What is also clear is that their progressive metal seems to have progressed away from metal into a more electronic era… occasionally industrial, as on the retro named ‘Rewind’, with its less brittle interpretation of the decadent and desperate soundscapes of Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. The effect is both uplifting and unsettling, with gloriously over the top harmonies and a real mass to it, overwhelmingly so at times.

Songs tend towards the epic and theatric, undeniably prog, with ‘Reconnect’ channelling the spirit of the eighties arcade but with a deeper, more undulating plot – an early Legend of Zelda of a song – giving it substance and method, yet perhaps vanishing under the weight of its complexity, and ‘Lines’ has that ‘Telegraph Road’ intro feeling, though it becomes more frenetic as it progresses.

As mentioned previously, they still go instrumental, and ‘Momentum’ fittingly has some, a pounding melody that twists and leaps like a chase scene, an excellent example of telling a story without words, a soundtrack without a movie. It is only really the 12 minute plus ‘Plus’ which disappoints, collapsing under its own weight, exhausted by the end. Which is a shame.

So, the sixth album, becoming a more prog-techno beast yet with aspirations of grandeur in a very retro manner. It is nostalgic, nostalgic of a future that didn’t happen, of Saturday evening TV with neon men and talking cars, and for that I am grateful. It is shameful though to be reminded of how much we are missing of what goes on beyond these shores… and I really should get out more.

Rob Wright