Baron Carta – Step Into The Plague EP
Release Date: 27/01/2021
Running Time: 22:00
Review by Simon Black
Please indulge me as for a four track EP this is going to be quite a lengthy piece, because for a variety of reasons this unobtrusive little recording may prove to be representative of a significant turning point in the music industry (albeit one that’s been looming for a while). Two factors are at play here – Coronavirus and the deplorable state of affairs for musicians before that.
Pandemic driven lockdown has fundamentally altered the way music is created and consumed, perhaps forever. Whilst the vast majority of workers in the live entertainment industry are waiting in desperate hope that the live side of things will restart soon so they can eat something other than rice, feed their children something nice or move out of cardboard city, musicians have fundamentally recognised that a change of approach was needed. If you are an established band, it’s perhaps been easier – take an unplanned break, dust off a few live recordings to keep the labels off your back contractually, crank out a live stream to remind people you exist and flog the old stock of T-shirts at a discount. New(er) bands though have a completely different challenge, especially those who have released debut recordings during this period that they cannot get out on the road to promote, which is absolutely the only way to shift your number of regular listeners on (insert streaming platform of choice here) from a few hundred hard won locals, to a wider audience who is going to allow you to eat occasionally. Or is it?
Enter Baron Carta, which is a new project from some old hands who with time on their hands and who have nothing to lose from challenging the industry status quo. If you have come across Severed Fifth, you will be aware that its progenitor Jono Bacon is no stranger to taking a solo project and bringing in top tier names to extend the project and the same methodology has been employed here. Supporting him on vocals are the great Ralf Scheepers from Primal Fear and drummer Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze and Anubis Gate).
Another fact about Bacon – if you Google him, you quickly discover that his day job is working as a strategy consultant with an interest in the power of communities to change the world (both dimensions are on his web site and make interesting reading). He will be acutely aware that technology enabled disruption was turning the world upside down long before Covid-19, which has thrown an incendiary accelerant over an already fast pace of change, and that the brands of the future are the ones that can identify a gap, create a cause (rather than a product), mobilise a movement to support it and build a community to embrace it.
Streaming disrupted physical media sales in the last decade, but the labels quickly got into bed with the platforms to keep the cash flowing, whilst the poor musicians’ incomes got cut further to the bone. No wonder then that Bacon and his music projects ignore the industry and focus on the musicians in a changing world. Live streams have been a part of this recently, but this feels like the next logical step as no label is involved in this band, but the content and platform have been very professionally crafted and assembled. Also don’t expect a full album any time soon – the intention is to release a number of more frequent shorter content packages in the future, with a nice sweetener to get you interested.
For a start you, the reader can right now head over to the band’s web site and claim your own free copy of this recording, independent of any streaming platform by signing up for their club. It also entitles you to some bonus content and at some point access to the next phase of Bacon’s disruptor plan. If nothing else this looks like an opportunity to claw back revenue from an entire industry that makes an enormous amount of money from music, whilst seeming to give very little of that to the actual musicians upon whom the whole thing depends.
And then there’s the tunes, which are an eclectic bag musically, but when you have a singer of Scheeper’s calibre and experience to carry it through with confidence and panache that’s perhaps less of an issue. There’s Heavy and Power Metal high in the mix here and whilst you can’t escape the Primal Fear comparisons, particularly for opener ‘Out of Time’ or second track ‘Devil To Send’, which is a much darker and heavier beast. ‘Truth To Power’ is much more up tempo and easily the strongest song in this batch, but I also like the lengthier closer ‘Act 1: Duty’ which lulls you into thinking it’s going to be a more experimental ballad, before speeding things up again to hold the attention.
All four tracks lean in slightly different directions and it very much feels like an experimental taster of what might come rather than a full formed statement of musical intent. I would not be at all surprised to find that this is all part of Bacon’s plan – throw four different styles out there and see which works best in a flexible experimental way, without having to deal with the pressure of a label on your back. The music is strong enough, and if we can get more material of the calibre of ‘Truth To Power’ then a fan base will follow. Let’s see how this story and experiment unfolds.
‘Truth To Power’ (Official Audio)
01. Out Of Time
02. Devil To Send
03. Truth To Power
04. Act 1: Duty
Ralf Scheepers – Vocals
Jono Bacon – Guitar
Morten Gade Sørensen: Drums
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