The Crystal Axis. It’s a brave title, whichever way you look at it – and could represent either a game show requiring seemingly endless levels of intelligence, or a concept of intergalactic relations. All somehow related through music, of course.
And yet this title perfectly describes the music held within. On their first album, Dystopia, Midnight Juggernauts announced themselves as a force to be reckoned with, as concrete heavy beats provided the most solid of foundations for harmonized pop and amazingly dirty basslines. Funk for the future, if you like.
The record acted as a direct hit over the head, the sometimes brutal drumming of Daniel Stricker underpinning the more cinematic productions up above. The same is true here, but the music is that bit more elusive, and as a result it takes a few listens before the full treasures of this second record are revealed.
For sure it is progressive, but not in the full, overblown sense that a title like The Crystal Axis would have you believe. Rather it works in the sense that each track leads logically into the next, the transitions often held in stasis by smoking atmospherics.
There is a frisson of surly attitude throughout, and several thrilling moments, such as the punch of the keyboard and drums when This New Technology hones into view, or the gutsy riff of Lara Versus The Savage Pack, comfortably out muscling the likes of Kasabian. Meanwhile the gentler moments, such as there are, contain weird and wonderful harmonies and lyrics, with The Great Beyond going all biblical as it refers to “the passing of the shadow of death”.
The lyrics themselves can be partially hidden at times behind the big wall of sound, but this is not as harmful as it sounds, such is the ability of this music to communicate through raw power alone. All three Juggernauts can sing and harmonise, while the trademark hammer blow drums keep things well and truly sorted at the lower end.
Not as direct as their debut then, but the thrills remain once you’ve given them a chance to come forward. Moving onto their own label has clearly given the Midnight Juggernauts the musical freedom they actively crave, and if this record is anything to go by they shouldn’t be singing closing choruses like Fade To Red’s “this is the time for goodbye” for sometime yet. We want them around for longer!