MUSTASCH, Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven (2012, Gain Music Entertainment)

The skull:
This guy is a lot closer to a Victoria’s Secret angel than to Charlie, the uber winged skull (übergeflügeltotenkopf?) of heavy metal. It would have helped if the minimum-wage Photoshopist had made an effort to align the wings and skull in something resembling a plane; as it is it looks like one wing sprouts from behind the skull’s left “ear” and the other tangentially from the back of his head. Makes no sense. Plus, everyone knows that if you’re gonna outfit a skull with wings, they had best be bat wings, or failing that, at least something that looks eagle-like. These recall the poofy appendages of a cockatiel. Unacceptable!

The music:
I first became aware of Mustasch when they were subbed in for Volbeat at a festival, and I have to admit, the swap was apt. Both bands traffic in self-conscious “rock,” the kind that must announce at all times and in the most ironic tones just how hard it indeed “rocks.” Mustasch don’t do the Elvis/Danzig worship thing that more or less defines Volbeat’s gimmick, instead sounding like a cross between Monster Magnet and mid 90s Swedish death rock, enhanced with up to 8% by weight of a solution of The Cult, played with the impeccable polish and sheen you’d expect from Swedes who aren’t going out of their way to sound unpolished. It’s even catchy in places. It’s also infuriatingly needy, the work of a band trying very hard to sound like real ass-kickers, so oh please won’t you consent to an ass-kicking please? Lord knows, I don’t require danger in my heavy metal (I love Arwen, after all), but I do thoroughly detest artfully-composed faux danger, and that’s all you’ll get from Mustasch, cowbells and all. Sounds like posers, looks like hipsters.
— Friar Johnsen

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