Review: Bill Bailey – “In Metal”

One of the United Kingdom’s most popular comedians, Bill Bailey is as well known for his off-beat humour as he is for his musical repertoire. With such catchy ditties as ‘Insect Nation’ and ‘Unisex Chip Shop’, it seemed a natural move to release a collection of songs that could be accessible to fans of the be-bearded raconteur and music lovers alike.

Headlining the Saturn Stage at this year’s Sonisphere festival, Bailey brought together a team of musicians that took on the mostly-discerning fans of Opeth and Airbourne, which left them converted to the Bill Bailey cause – metal could be funny without losing its credibility.

In Metal carries on from where the success of his Sonisphere set left off, with nine masterful tracks ranging from “very funny” to “downright hilarious”. But don’t be fooled by the title, this is an eclectic album that multi-tasks genre in a superb way.

Instrumental opener Lazer Gazer has the echoes of Kraftwerk running through it, with hints of Alec Empire that are probably unknown by even Mr. Bailey himself. The haunting violins crescendo and lead into another original composition, ‘Leg of Time’, which is – again – a fusion of genres that punch and kick their way through to forefront (with nice of bit of “Cockney middle eight” for good measure”). So, tick off Krautrock, Led Zeppelin, Wolfmother and Chas ‘n’ Dave from your In Metal musicality bingo cards, please!

Part Troll tour favourite ‘Love Song’ has been given a heavy rock makeover for the album, giving it a crisper sound that really comes together when the Maiden-esque solo seals everything at around the 3 minute mark. May your head rock back and forth, fairly quickly.

Second instrumental track ‘Apocalyptic News’ could benefit from being about a minute or so shorter, but then, when we start to live in a post-apocalyptic world, it might as well be this tune to lulls us into our nuclear-fallout-induced comas.

For me, the Rammstein-influenced ‘Scarborough Fair’ is the complete and utter winner of In Metal. Even keeping true to singing the song in German, Bailey captures the rasping vocals of Till Lindemann perfectly – something that even Lindemann himself can’t do at times.

So we’ve had German; the natural progression might as well be French, mightn’t it?

‘Cars’ – originally by Gary Numan – is the only track on the album that has previously been a bonafide modern hit (hitting the U.K. top spot in 1979), but that doesn’t seem to daunt Bill Bailey and his band one bit. I dare say that this is how Numan would re-write the song if the opportunity presents itself – without the French vocal stylings, of course (or is that, perhaps, just a demand on mine and many others parts?). Keep the horn section especially, Gary!

Back to German now with another song from a previous tour, ‘Das Hokey Cokey’. For those of you that have heard of eurotrash band Stereo Total, you will notice the similarities between them and this – if you’re scratching your head, I mean it in a good way. Could this usurp the original version of the nation’s favourite party song? Probably not. But show it to some Bavarians and they’ll hokey cokey-ing on the tables at next year’s Oktoberfest.

You like your music heavier than a sumo wrestler eating granite? Look no further than ‘Oblivion’. What can be said other than RAWWWWRRAAARRAAARRRRRRWWWAATRRRRRR…er, I mean…yes, it’s good.

‘Pot Plant Elegy’ calms (me) everyone down with a lovely piano/theremin serenade, straight outta Vienna via an Icelanic volcano.

And there you have it. Certifiable evidence that better music can be produced by a man who likes like he’s lost his way from Mordor, rather than…whatever Cher Lloyd looks like.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

 

 

 

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