Clocking in a 25 minutes and 22 seconds, Horse of the Dog
--the debut album from Brighton noiseniks The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster--is the very definition of a short, sharp shock: 10 tracks of violent gutter-blues punk-rock that steams in with the raw, primal power of the Birthday Party
or the Cramps
, and steams out without outstaying its welcome. Although lumped in with their peers the Parkinsons
and Ikara Colt
, if anything, The Eighties Matchbox peddle an even more extreme, gruesome brand of rock music.
All the same, there's much to recommend here: frontman Guy McKnight's sinister preacher-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown vocals; crude guitar roar that sounds like a chainsaw snagging on jagged bone; and a purple-velvet swing that belies the band's terrifying volume. Thematically, the songs encompass oppressive sexual relationships, unnatural family ties, a contempt for arrogant rock star attitude, and a peculiar fascination with--or is it revulsion of?--raw meat. But when the tunes come--and they do, on the sordid "Celebrate Your Mother" and the snake-hipped "Morning Has Broken"--everything falls nastily into place. --Louis Pattison