As the singular mind driving the varied sonic firestorm known as BOX, multi-instrumentalist Andrew Stromstad distills the sounds of and from his favorite records by Ministry, Anaal Nathrakh, Devin Townsend, Judas Priest and The Young Gods along with all the hits from the Bay Area thrash’s second wave, ‘80s pop and early new wave into one unholy gumbo that more often than not reminds of unheralded Swiss heroes Bloodstar on a Soft Cell and Michael Mann filmography bender. That may be one long-ass sentence with a longer-ass collection of bands and sounds, but that’s what Stromstad is trying to accomplish with BOX and debut full-length, Cherry Blossoms at Night.
The album itself spans a vast breadth of sonic styles, airs and moods with a pulse gravitating between slinky booty shaking and the rhythm of an angry mob beating a riot cop down with her own helmet and shield. There’s a pervasive sense of disconnect as nothing draped in this much darkness and ire should be as catchy as opening thrasher “Succumb” or the title track’s manifestation of Phil Collins ripping meth rails purchased from Jan Hammer. And when was the last time 1984-era Van Halen met Laibach in the way they do in “Lifetaker”? I could go on about the mumbo jumbo and frizzle frazzle each individual track provides, but seeing as there’s a stream of the album below, I’ll stop here and let you make your own judgements and comparisons. When reached for comment about his latest work, Stromstad had this to say:
“This is a directionless collection of eight songs that belong on eight different records. The only two things these songs have in common are my voice and subject matter relative to mortality, whether it be reincarnation, biological warfare, suicide pacts,or loving your loved one(s) to death. All fun things to think about and obsess over.”
Cherry Blossoms at Night is out tomorrow on Stromstad’s own Miserable Pyre of Secrets label. More info and all the usual business at the following links:
Andrew Stromstad Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/holybookofwang/
BOX Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/icyboxband/
Record Label: https://miserablepyreofsecrets.bandcamp.com/