Even more surprising than the unique mix of, in most simplistic terms, pounding metal and hard rock on "The Pusher" by Germany's BEISSERT is the fact that it was released on Agonia Records, a label known more for gnarly death/thrash and black metal releases. In that regard, the first words out of my mouth upon hearing "The Pusher" and realizing it was an Agonia release were, in this order, "What the fuck?" and "Wow, this is pretty damn good".
Describing the sound of "The Pusher" in one sentence is a daunting task necessitating the need to dig further into individual tracks, but if one were to attempt to do so it might be something along the lines of CLUTCH by way of NEVERMORE by way of PANTERA by way of stoner rock by way of thrash metal by way of classic rock by way of sludge, which ends up saying very little by saying a lot. However, the PANTERA and especially NEVERMORE references require qualification with "vaguely" and "only in spots", as the main points of delivery derive from a sometimes sludgy, often CLUTCH-esque, and always song-centric approach. For example, the title track and "SaxonBloodRock" are the main places where the NEVERMORE tinges (the former) and PANTERA power drive (both) are present, though the latter still pops up from time to time. On a great cut called "Die Dunkelheit Uns Mit Sich Nimmt" a stoner/COC riff basis fuses with an overall attack that sounds like ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY meets CLUTCH. It is the vocal style of Rüdiger Beissert that reminds to some extent of Neil Fallon, mainly the singing parts, a good example of which is heard on "Uphillfight Against The Sun", a tough tune with a monster hook. Then a left turn is taken on "Unaussprechlichen Kvlten", which begins with acoustic guitar and a loopy section of what sounds like a Native American chant (from what I can gather anyway) before the stonerish rock launches.
And the surprises don't stop there. The trippy bass line poppin' and very CLUTCH-like verses of "Durch die Haare in das Kind" give way to an incredibly infectious chorus with falsetto vocal lines that would be comical if they weren't so goddamn catchy. What a fantastic song! What follows is a marginally sludgy, southern metal/rock tune with sorrowful acoustic guitar parts called "Eerie Discipline" on which Beissert does a sort of Neil-Fallon-doing-LYNYRD SKYNYRD thing that borders on off-key in the most endearing of ways. "Aal ins Gekroese" hits with up-tempo thrashing interspersed with more controlled sections and melodically sung parts. "Bloodsown" is swinging southern metal groove and the nearly nine-minute "Gedanke und Erinnerung" brings back another round of brawn and melody with some classic rock soloing, while "Yggdrasil" really throws one for a loop with shining acoustic guitars, light singing, a fantastic, almost pop-oriented chorus, and brief moments of brutality that would seem ill-fitting if it all didn't work so well together. I know, it all seems insane, but it works.
The album comes off like the work of a mad rock/metal scientist that mixes up his potion with a multitude of volatile solutions and hopes for the best. In the words of Borat: "great success!" One can only hope that a meticulous set of notes were kept on that mixture so that the next album will be as fun, refreshing, and boisterously rockin' as "The Pusher".