Denmark’s Parzival have a long and locally-celebrated history, but for varied reasons have never really managed to break out and find international infamy. That situation is unlikely to change with their new album, the Wagner-inspired The Golden Bough.
In some ways you might see this as the quintessential album of a band of this sort; all of the pieces of the band’s raison d’etre are in place, with the album being influenced by the titular book of the same name, a seminal work of Anthropology by Victorian philosopher scientist Sir James George Frazer, which took as one of it’s central planks a lengthy dissertation on the grail romance of… Parsifal!
And of course Parsifal also inspired the opera of the same name by Wagner; so you see it all adds up. Unfortunately the best track on this quintessential Parzival album – The Grinder of God- sounds like a quintessentially Laibachian martial romp, which maybe explains why this band has never been taken quite as seriously as they probably feel they should have been. In short, vocalist Dimitrij Bablevskij sounds so much like his Slovenian counterpart Milan Fras – on The Bond, admittedly excellent as it is – you’d be hard pressed to tell the pair apart – as to render his delivery slightly comical. And this is a setback from which the collective never quite recovers, no matter how high the quality of the material on offer.
And it has to be said that overall the quality is high; The band has consciously ‘heavied up’ its sound for this album; basslines throb in brooding Massive Attack style whilst slide guitars wail away in a sort of Depeche Mode-meets-Der-Blutharsch kinda way that actually isn’t half bad when the band gets things to click, as they do pretty well on both the already mentioned tracks.
Catcher In The Sky adds a bleakly monumental, almost spaghetti western air to the standard melancholy, the result strangely being something you could imagine being cooked up by Pink Floyd just after Syd Barrett went mad. The upshot of all this is that, perhaps in spite of themselves, Parzival have come up with a curiously interesting album, easily one of their most accessible and one that bares repeated listening at that. Maybe not for the reasons they’d hoped, but nevertheless listenable ones all the same. And surely that’s a victory, of sorts?
The Golden Bough is out now.