Every now and then, amidst the non-stop barrage of mediocre death and black metal we review here at AMG, we get something that’s a little bit out of the ordinary. Pil & Bue (Norwegian for “Bow & Arrow”) is a two-man band consisting entirely of Petter Carlsen (vocals & baritone guitar) and drummer Aleksander Kostopoulos. Forget the Past, Let’s Worry about the Future is their second record, following up 2014’s Push Start Button (level 1).
Pil & Bue‘s sound could loosely be described as shoegaze-ish post-rock. Carlsen’s voice draws unavoidable comparisons to Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta, to whom he sounds nearly identical at times. Trace elements of prog rock are present, mostly in Kostopolous’ drum patterns. But beneath the spacey guitars and ornate percussion, the songs have focus and direction that similar bands are often sorely lacking. All this is clearly laid out in opener “No is the Answer,” a fuzzed-out, rhythmically unorthodox track with an assertive and memorable chorus.
“Shakkakakka” is a showcase for Kostopolous’ drumming, with his fancy stickwork squaring off against Carlsen’s blunt riffing, with the result sounding not unlike early Tool. Despite only containing about one sentence worth of lyrics, “Fire” is a 7-minute epic, building to an OK Computer-esque finalé where Carlsen unleashes some soaring vocal melodies. The short and upbeat “Nevermind” cruises along on breezy guitar strumming, coming across as almost single-worthy within the context of this album. “Fear Flee Freeze Fight” has a vague Deftones vibe to it, particularly in the vocal melodies. “Afterlife” begins with possibly the heaviest, doomiest riff of the entire album, before withering away into gentle trails of guitar feedback, ending the album on a softer note.
As far as lyrics go, the band bio says that the album focuses on “the struggle of women facing suppression, agony and injustice.” I don’t get anything that specific from listening to the record, but the lyrics I can make out are appropriately angsty. The lyrics are often minimalistic (the aforementioned “Fire” being an extreme example), but they certainly convey the general message, if not the specifics.
Seeing as how I’m unfamiliar with the back catalog, I gave Push Start Button (level 1) a quick listen. It seems the band had mostly worked out their style and approach on their debut, and Future simply refines and improves upon it. If anything, the new record feels darker and less “indie rock,” with a more melancholic feel and more metal-esque riffs. As you can imagine, I have no problem with any of these developments.
It is to Pil & Bue‘s credit that despite their minimalist lineup, the songs themselves sound fully formed, with no lack of sonic girth or low frequencies. Carlsen’s guitar playing mostly sticks to the fundamentals, with Kostopolous providing the flair that would typically come from a second guitarist, but there is never the sense that anything is missing. The band is also wise to keep the album relatively brief. Future clocks in at a mere 32 minutes, making it closer to an EP than a full length, but this allows for each song to shine individually without the full record becoming tedious. These guys may not be reinventing the wheel, but if any of the bands mentioned above appeal to you, or you just need a break from blastbeats and Satan, give Pil & Bue a shot.