The Ongoing Concept
16th June 2015 – Solid State Records
The concept album is a somewhat varied concept in itself: you have your suite albums – sprawling epics which flow through as a single piece of music (basically all prog metal post-Colors); you have your lyrical concepts; and then you have something a bit different – concept albums that follow neither of the preceding requirements but still have an “ongoing concept” of sorts. Albums like Björk’s Medulla, which was only made with voices (technically making it an experimental a capella album), or the album at hand: The Ongoing Concept’s latest release Handmade, where every instrument used on the album was handmade by the band members themselves.
This process was documented and widely used for the PR campaign. Even first single “Unwanted“‘s video turned out to be handmade; spurning ‘professionals’ in favour of handheld camera angles – obviously recorded by members of the band while playing – on a set hand built by the band of (mostly) brothers. While all this build-up was great, sadly the album fails to live up to its potential.
Handmade is in no way a bad album, but sadly it’s not a great one either. The band are at their best when the songs find that almighty catchiness we know and love from their older material – now with added soul (“Amends”, “Feel”, “Unwanted”) – but worst when they are going for a pure rock sound (“Prisoner”).
Somewhere in the middle, they find a sound part Of Monsters and Men, part Mumford and Sons (“Melody”). As a fan of previous album Saloon, I was a little let down and while it admittedly wasn’t the most coherent album either, it still felt like a more complete package.
Handmade does follow the groundwork laid by its predecessor – it’s a fun blend of hardcore and various influences – but doesn’t really do anything overly exciting with it other than the concept, so unfortunately it likely won’t be remembered as a particularly groundbreaking or genre-defining album. Instead, it’s a perfectly serviceable and fun record that probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the same attention without the handmade aspect and the surrounding PR campaign. The Ongoing Concept turn out to be excellent in concept but just okay in execution.