Bushman’s Revenge are a power trio led by guitarist Even Helte Hermansen of Norwegian jazz-prog heroes Shining. I don’t know what pigeonhole you would stick this in if pigeonholeing is your thing. Free metal perhaps? A very rough idea of what they sound like would be the Jimi Hendrix Experience if they’d listened to nothing but Ornette Colman and John Coltrane. Unlike some records of this ilk, it mixes improvisation with stuff which is clearly composed, and it has contemplative moments as well as moments of mayhem.
“Ginsberg”, “King of Hello” and the brilliantly titled “No Sleep ’till Hammerfest” are the three tracks where they really let rip, and their free jazz instincts take over. “Ginsberg” is a mass of relentless squall and clatter that has echoes of Casper Brotzmann. After six minutes of growing mayhem, “King of Hello” eventually slips into a monstrous metal riff which gradually speeds up before disintegrating at the last. “Hammerfest” is the least structured of the trio, with Hermansen soloing like fury as the others create as much racket as they possibly can.
Effective as these pieces are, 48 minutes of untrammelled improv is a recipe for a sore head. The opening “Count the Holes in Your Head” is Melvins style sludge metal whereas “Ghostwriters in the Sky” changes the mood entirely. The guitar is restrained, with gentle feedback release and soft chimes given a subtle string bass backing that lends it an air of cool jazz. It’s a lovely interlude that affords much needed breathing space between its neighbouring tracks.
The album wraps up with the uncharacteristically conventional sounding “Champagne For My Real Friends”. It has a vibe of psychedelic blues-rock, and plays out with a chanted melody in a similar vein to “Hey Jude” (although not as long or as repetitive or as annoying!). You Lost Me At Hello, like all of the best improv, doesn’t shy away from melody, but neither is it dictated by it. It’s loud, powerful and challenging, but it’s in no way wilfully difficult for the sake of it. I’d recommend it to metalheads with an experimental bent, post-rock fans pining for a bit more power and pace and jazz fiends who aren’t frightened of things getting amped up a bit. Or to anyone else looking for some visceral thrills.
1 Count the Holes in Your Head 3:50
2 Bølehøgda Rock City 5:45
3 Ginsberg 5:44
4 Hell Is for Hello 2:38
5 King of Hello 10:45
6 Ghostwriters in the Sky 5:43
7 No Sleep ’till Hammerfest 8:53
8 Champagne for My Real Friends 4:51