Imperial State Electric’s Reptile Brain Music: Awesome Not-Quite-Metal from Nicke Andersson (Entombed, The Hellacopters)
Imperial State Electric can’t really, in good faith, be called metal but front man Nicke Andersson’s stints in Entombed, Hellacopters, and Death Breath have earned him the right to be acknowledged in whatever band du jour he’s in. With Slade-like whimsical tunes and slowed down Thin Lizzy vibe, Imperial State Electric harkens back to the days of 70s rock n’ roll, though mercifully without the terrible clothes.
Album opener “Emptiness Into the Void” is a swing-dance shuffle akin to a toned AC/DC track. No retro-modern record is complete without at least some cowbell, and that comes in subtly during “Underwhelmed” — so much so that unless you’re listening for it, it could be missed. “Faustian Bargains” has the lilting, bad attitude introduction of Thin Lizzy’s “Don’t Believe a Word,” but unlike the grit of Lynott, Andersson’s softer take gives it a Friday-night-by-the-jukebox feel. The entire record presents a stripped down version of classic rock, but with no less the feeling and sincerity. “Dead Things” is not an Alice Cooper cover, but it has that haunting, slow build that shows off the even more vintage influences, going back all the ways to the bluesy 50s. The Misfits may have attempted to replicate that era with their Project 1950, but this album captures both the sentiment and the sound of the time with original melodies and orchestration, not bland covers.
The Rolling Stones might be the best example of 70s rock n’ roll stealing successfully from the 50s and getting away with it, but Imperial State Electric arguably manage to do it even better. The Hellacopters’ cover of “Gimme Shelter” was a good prelude to the creation of this band, whose “Eyes” seems to have evolved from this trail. With its two-beat drum punctuations, it’s malt shop rock with an edge. “Stay the Night” adds even more sleaziness, but with a whisper of Mike Pattonly gentleman-ness as Andersson’s voice pitches low, low, lower for the occasion.
The record’s stand-out track, though, “Born Again.” It has more of the 50s rock by way of glam band solos with a subtle gospel choir coming in very briefly before culminating in garage punk finale that’ll make long-time Andersson fans very happy with its familiarity.
Reptile Brain Music was released in 2013, but if you’re looking for it on iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon, or all those other easy, convenient ways to buy music, you’re shit out of luck (if you live in the Unites States). So you can either pay a third party seller through Amazon and re-live the nostalgia of buying physical copies of music (unless the third party doesn’t send anything for three months and pretends they don’t speak English when confronted), or give some Russian website your credit card number so that for $20.00 you can buy entire discographies of every band imaginable! Nothing sketchy about either scenario. If you think that all this hardship makes the acquisition of the sought after music that much sweeter, you’re wrong. Please see THIS IS WHY PEOPLE PIRATE MUSIC.