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A SLICE OF LIFE: Restless (Wool-E Discs 2018)

Lately from the little known Belgian scene, we get more than interesting proposals. In a world scene that constantly is presenting new bands which often suffer from repetition or even a lack of talent, the Belgian scene seems to be standing out with a lot of interesting new bands. In 2018, although we received the album only a few weeks ago, A Slice of Life published it’s first full-length “Restless”.

Presented in digisleeve (that cardboard format, without spine or anything that “holds” the cd, like a double vinyl case but in small), Restless was published in August, after a well received EP from 2017. Ten tracks (the five of the EP re-recorded and five totally new) and a bonus track that does not appear in the digital edition, only on the CD.

The disc begins with “Restless Gods”, in a lot different version than on the previous EP, recorded with much more power this time and a much better production. The same thing actually happens with all the songs from the EP so it is worth to buy the album as the songs have matured. Restless Gods is one of those danceable, dark songs, full of reminiscences but without copying anyone (one of the, for me, signs of this band). Older is softer, quieter and full of beauty. Elegant, eighties… a beautiful song.

The Marionette sounds also very eighties; tortuous, hiding thousands of nuances that you discover in your earphones with each new listening. This song is one of my favorites on this album, with guitars and bass in a constant «battle» and a voice (enjoy and recognize in this piece some passages of the best Cure-like vocals, not in vain Mr. Vreys also sings with the obsCURE (B), tribute band to those of Robert Smith and cia) demonstrating a tremendous level of “transmission”. Sweet Sin has its best virtue in its postpunk pulse. The reverberation of Dirk Vreys’ voice moves it away from the immediately previous ones. It is surprising that Sweet Sin and The Marionette (for example) come out of the same throat. Again danceable, again epic. Another fantastic cut worth it’s price.

Coraline is a tremendous piece of gothic rock from the best school. Curiously, it combines all the superb adjectives mentioned above in a little more than three minutes: epic, danceable, dark, eighties, postpunk … Sorrow brings us back to Older’s elegant and slightly decadent atmosphere. A path similar to the one that people like Golden Apes travel with ease, for example. Serious voices, although not as deep as those of the Golden Apes, combined with more acute passages; ubiquitous drums between delicate guitars and keyboards accentuate the spell. Panic Attack is a piece of pure gothic rock, reminding on a more modern band as Der Himmel Über Berlin, for example. But all of this is little more than a stupid attempt to try to compare some songs with similar ones from other labels.Because songs like We Fight (or Panic Attack itself, or actually any song on this album) shows – again – that A Slice of Life operates at a great height. Their music is not innovating too much, but in their amalgam of more or less diverse, more or less obvious influences, they do what any band should do: create damn good songs. Very good in this case. Life Is As It Is dances on the melody of the keyboard, supported by strings that are a bit more present leaning on the bass. In my opinion the song misses a bit of an edge and does not break loose. Good subject, good song but less favorite to me. I would not know how to specify the reason. Feel like Crazy improves the taste of Life Is As It Is. It may be the eighties pop touch, very marked.Perhaps the voice of Dirk Vreys in acute register (curious what this boy does with the voice, playing with bass and treble, sometimes feels like listening to two different singers; curious and addictive). And finally we get to the bonus track, only available on the physical copy of the album: Liefde Is Oorlog. More accelerated and sung in Dutch, is quite different from the rest of the album. Apart from the speed, mutates the elegance by the viscera, showing a record that had not appeared so far. Remarkable in it’s difference, and a good song probably to close a concert,…. or an album.   A Slice of Life seems determined to break all boxes we try to put someone in when we want to to define the indefinable. It is the evil of many reviews, that you force yourself to identify and categorize sounds when actually all you want is to enjoy them; no more no less. Fill a blank paper with words when music is, almost by definition, something that cannot be enclosed in a more or less long text, more or less well written. This is what happens, without any doubt, with this Restless. It is one of those albums that you want to hear again and again, instead of sitting down to write about it. Advantages that you readers have …