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Riddle of Steel | Python (Ascetic)
How do you define the indefinable? Badly is the answer, so let's just call Riddle of Steel a rock band and be done with it. Any band who lists influences as diverse as King Crimson, Fugazi and Sonic Youth is bound to be difficult to pigeonhole, and that's certainly the case with 'Python', Riddle of Steel's first album following their decent 'Burn' EP. The album jerks stylistically back and forth throughout its forty-three minutes, but not once does it lose focus. Opener One Inch Deep smells a little like Bluetip (incidentally, Jason Farrell is responsible for the album's artwork), but at the same time could sit happily on any release by Quicksand, or even the more melodic Rival Schools. Elsewhere, there are traces of The Minutemen (Fire Is A Special Occasion), Burning Airlines-meets-Helmet (Ass Kicker #1) and Shiner (Kissing In Secret), yet for all the worthy and flattering comparisons, Riddle of Steel are very much their own band. 'Python' is a technically superb, emotionally stirring wonder of a debut. Every sound is captured in minute detail ?? the drumming, courtesy of Dave Turncrantz, is incredible, and the guitar and bass weave circles around each other playfully whilst all the time the vocals from Andrew Elsner (guitar) Jimmy Vavak (bass) combine in perfect harmony ?? one gruff, the other graceful ?? to create an album that doesn't so much politely ask for your attention, but rather smashes its fist onto the table and demands it. As much as I hate finishing reviews with single word sentences, I'm going to. Stunning.

Mike Diver
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003