South African bands have had a lot of success internationally, both recently and in the past. From Johnny Clegg and Mango Groove to Freshly Ground and Die Antwoord, South African music has somehow always managed to capture the imaginations of people from any country and culture. The rock scene is no different: Springbok Nude Girls, Just Ginger, Willim Welsyn en die Sunrise Toffies, Fokofpolisiekar, The Kongos and even Seether are but a few of the great bands to come from the southern tip of Africa. Looking to make their mark both locally and internationally is the freshly formed Pyjama Planet. The brainchild of Mark Allnutt, the debut album Max Chops is a symphonic metal instrumental exploration with guest performances from several other South African musicians.
Mark Allnutt is a composer and filmmaker living in Cape Town, South Africa. No stranger to the local punk and metal bands, Mark longed for a larger collaboration with local artists. Pyjama Planet began with a desire to make an album with many talented individuals rather than just from a band. After working on an online EP, Mark turned his attention back to his first love, Metal. Four months of writing, three months of recording, and six months in post-production led to the eventual creation of the concept album, Max Chops.
I took a good week to fully digest the concept album, which has a very complex and largely unconventional story that makes for a pretty entertaining read. It grew on me fairly quickly, with a good couple of tracks actually tickling my fancy. Here’s a little breakdown of what to expect.
Black: An ambient intro that has a pretty trippy vibe to it. An uplifting and joyous morning chorus with a nice little build at the end.
Red: I like this track. A lot. I love the guitar work, which is a lot of very technical fingerwork punctuated with pretty catchy thrash riffs. The drums and synths are very power metal and there is a lot of energy and pace. Outro is a little short for my liking. Very catchy tune.
Silver: It starts very black metal sans vocals and then switches abruptly to something off of a Pink Floyd track and back again. Very exploratory but in a good way. Plays with tempo and various levels of distortion.
Yellow: Now this is a strange track. A jazzy into that quickly progresses into a multitudinous amalgamation of different genres. Definitely a ballsy, progressive track.
Brown: A Katatonia style track. Very easy listening and quite beautiful. Utterly entrancing from start to finish.
Blue: A big switch up in pace after the last track. Very traditional sounding power/black metal instrumental with a really catchy primary riff. Great work on the drums as well. I found myself toe-tapping and doing the mild-mosh in front of my PC screen.
Green: A very progressive and technical track. Very atmospheric symphonic metal with complimentary dual guitars. Not my favourite on my first listening, but I feel it’s one of those tracks that you really can’t appreciate until you’ve really taken the time to digest it in its entirety.
White: Easily my favourite on the album. From start to finish, white is everything I want in my metal. I’d love to have a version of this with some crazy angry growls. This one is definitely going to find its way onto my “favourites” playlist.
Bonus: What a bonus track! The only track on the album with lyrics, “Tranzit” is actually a lot of fun. A solid death metal entry that left me grinning from ear to ear, especially with lyrics like,”Not enough mutilation!” A really smart way to finish of Pyjama Planet’s first project.
I didn’t really know what to expect from Pyjama Planet’s Max Chops. The names are bizarre and the artwork psychedelic – nothing about it seemed metal at all. It turns out that looks can be quite deceiving and the music turned out to be quite the trip. In all honesty, I was very pleasantly surprised. Very much worth the meagre six dollar price tag. Give it a listen and add Pyjama Planet to that list of underground bands you know so you can sound super impressive to your friends. Check out their first video below to see what the pyjama-adorned gentlemen are all about and be sure to give them some support on facebook here.
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