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Deep Space Destructors, I: Set a Course for Drift

Titled simply I, the self-released debut EP from Finnish trio Deep Space Destructors captures their warm, still-nascent classic heavy rock interpretations with just an edge of the “deep space” from which they take two-thirds of their name. I is made up of four engaging cuts – three available via digital means and an untitled bonus track exclusive to the limited-to-100-copies CD – that roll through stonerly pacing and grooves without forgetting to add a little more than that. Influences prominent throughout the current European scene (as much as one can distill the output of an entire continent into one generalized grouping) from early kraut rock and the more modern fuzz of Witch show up on “Without Warning,” “Black Star Rising” and “The End Times,” and as I gives a general impression of what Deep Space Destructors have managed to accomplish in their first year of being a band – they formed early in 2011 with the lineup of vocalist/bassist Jani Pitkänen, first-name-only guitarist/backing vocalist Pete and drummer/backing vocalist Markus Pitkänen – it seems to accomplish everything it sets out to do. The recording is low, in terms of volume, but whether it’s the fuzz intro of “Without Warning” (it’s really hard to type those words and not follow them with “a wizard walks by”) or the layered pastoral solo late into “Black Star Rising,” I makes a strong case for turning it up, especially as that solo leads to an Asteroid-style riff-out, where you can’t tell if it’s guitars or organs or both or something just made of hairy distortion and groove. Really, it doesn’t matter what it is (it’s guitar), because the point is it’s put to good use. Deep Space Destructors are a recent enough act to be influenced by the newer school of Eurofuzz, but not so far behind as to miss its still formative period.

The basic result of that is that when they turn the atmosphere a little darker for the beginning movement of “The End Times” – the title indicative of the purpose in that atmospheric shift – it’s not so much derivative of someone else as it is Deep Space Destructors putting their own spin on what’s become over the last couple years an established sound. It’s more than some do, less than others, but they make it work, and their classic influence serves them well across the EP’s 26 minutes, starting off raucously but working quickly to introduce a range of effects and moods. The call in the verse call and response reminds a bit of The Kings of Frog Island, but Jani has a more straightforward answer to it, higher in the mix and overall drier in terms of reverb and/or cavernous echo. That serves to separate it from what Pete and or Markus are doing vocally, but Jani is forward enough to dominate the guitar and his own bass, and that has an odd effect on the song. He doesn’t sound too loud, but compared to the tonal fuzz surrounding and Markus’ swaggering drums, the vocals just sound like they could use more effects of their own as well as to come down a bit in volume. It’s less of an issue in the more riff-rocking opening of “Black Star Rising,” but by the time the guitars drop out for the verse, the situation is largely the same as in the opener, though the 7:44 runtime of the second track allows for much more to play out stylistically, and Deep Space Destructors are well-suited to both the multi-vocal build before the four-minute mark and the subdued progressive jam that ensues afterwards, Jani’s bass offering choice runs to coincide with the vocals and relaxed strum of Pete’s guitar.

And while the aforementioned dooming of mood for “The End Times” fascinates and engages on its own level, it’s with the untitled bonus track that Deep Space Destructors really make their mark, and a big part of why is that the balance of the mix is more suited to the song itself. Already “The End Times” showcased a more elaborate arrangement in its chorus, but delivered in Finnish, the bonus cut sounds more relaxed all around, and that fits with the organ-inclusive approach, which finds continuity with the rest of I in both its classic reverence and its underlying groove. If it’s more ballad-esque feel is indicative of something Deep Space Destructors might try to further work into their sound next time out, then they should be in good shape to add to the aesthetic they’ve set for themselves via the three named tracks here, as it’s a lateral step but not at all out of place with the other songs, despite even the difference in language. Singing in Finnish might also be something they want to consider more of in the future, as it seems to allow for a more soulful approach à la some of Graveyard’s fetishizing ancient Skynyrd Southernisms – or maybe that’s just the organ/ride bell interplay setting a wistful bed for the vocals to rest on. In any case, the Oulu trio have given themselves a strong start on I, and shown potential for what they might look to accomplish on subsequent outings while also managing to engage in the present. It’s not a landmark release, but it serves the band and the European scene well, showing that Finland won’t be left out of this generation’s take on fuzz rock and that Deep Space Destructors have it in them to bring something individual to the style. Also, it grooves like a bastard, and that never hurts.

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