There satirist has always played an important role in society, making us realize that the water around us frogs has become dangerously close to boiling. Often this is done by exaggerating observations about the world to ridiculous heights. But what does one do when the world is so messed up that yesterday’s exaggerations are todays reality? You write a song titled “(Saving Up For An) Anal Bleach”, of course.
Yes, only Freak Kitchen, a Swedish band with a penchant for singable pop melodies and violent guitar-based rhythms could have written such a song. The lead guitar riff is head-banging good but with a few progressive metal turns to keep you unbalanced while Mattias “IA” Eklundh, the mastermind behind the band, sings of modern maladies such as “Tweet tweet all day long / Desperate to belong / I’m not sure I even do exist / If it ain’t on Instagram”. The topic of the desperate celebrity is given the treatment in “Freak of the Week” with lyrics packed with so many buzzwords (“Wiki-leak”,”1040p”, etc.) that in a few years college professors could use it to study the era. That is if the music wasn’t so aggressively good with insane stunt lead guitar noodling and manic riffs. Generally college professors don’t go for insane noodling. “Ranks of the Terrified” is another frantic flurry of notes, filling its three and a half minutes with thousands of hand-tapped notes. However the music of Freak Kitchen, while technical at times, always places the melody first. That’s what I like about ‘em. That and their wicked sense of humor.
I must admit that I also like their penchant for thick walls of groovy guitar riffs. “Professional Help” totally crushes with a low riff designed to turn concrete buildings instantly to dust as does “Come Back to Comeback” which concerns your favorite (constantly retiring) band. Yes, “nostalgia was so much better before.” The single, “Sloppy,” is also heavy on the riff department, though this time they add in a bit of blues and stuttering vocals. Concerning the current trend of giving up our rights “for the greater good” of protection from the bad guys, the band concludes “The truth of the matter is that everyone / Is getting seriously corn holed.” This band pulls no punches and seems to relish singing “Coooooorn holed.” Watch the video. It’s catchy and repetitive. You can hate me later when it gets stuck in your head.
Regardless of the state of the world sometimes it’s nice to indulge in the standards, such as when Freak Kitchen covers Benny Goodman’s “Goody Goody.” Yes, it’s as cracked and unorthodox as you might think. It also has just one of many fine examples of Eklundh’s whackily inventive solo style found on the album, Steve Vai with a wicked sense of humor perhaps. A final favorite is “Once Upon A Time In Scandinavistan”, a mid-tempo ditty with a dark, threatening atmosphere filled with Indian hand percussion. The song is based on the novel of the same name, not that I knew such a beast existed before this album, where Sweden is colonized by India. A moody song, that’s certain, but what I really enjoy is near the end where he sings “Wear a helmet / Head is not replaceable / Only one head per lifetime.” Stuff like this just makes me grin like the goober that I am.
Freak Kitchen is just what they sound like: freaky. The songs on Cooking With Pagans take ingredients from a broad array of cookbooks, most notably pop, progressive metal, doom, and world music. It’s not for the weak of heart or those with faint taste buds but it’s a feast for someone bored with burgers and fries.