If there was ever any question as to whether punk is dead, this is your answer. Praise be to god! It's dead as a door nail and as alive and kicking as you ever wanted. Or never wanted.
I am still befuddled by the idea that this is only a duo. A DUO. Two men. One with a bass guitar, one with a (rather small) drum kit. I can confirm this with first hand experience, I've seen them twice. I don't even begin to understand how they manage to get the sounds that they do, simultaneous driving/driven bass lines (by Brian Gibson) and feed back and some effect that sounds like a heavily distorted violin, not to mention drummer Brian Chippendale's inaudibly screamed vocals that at times sound like a screeching monkey from hell and at others are almost intelligible, nor to mention the most lightning paced drumming I've ever heard that can still be considered playing (I don't think he misses a beat. Literally), nor the way that together they can instantaneously erupt into blasts and bolts of sheer noise and then back again into complex rhythms, some of which border on being loops.
I've never been a fan of "noise rock," and really it would be unfair to try to squeeze these guys into that category. The drumming is truly some of the best I've heard, the bass is at times hypnotizing, at others like a sonic car crash. It would also be unfair to call them metal; beyond being heavy and harsh, the sound here is about as close to "metal" as it is close to jazz. Or maybe it's art, but in that case I'm not really sure what it is that they're trying to say, and they're not pretentious (I met bassist Brian Gibson after a show, and he seemed the amicable sort, if not a bit drunk and/or tired). Maybe it's anarchy, but in that case there's order and beauty even at the heart of chaos.
I saw them a few weeks ago at an underground noise and death metal show in a warehouse here in Providence, and where the other bands only had the handful of two percenters thrashing about, and where the others only manage to inflict a moderate level of deafness on their listeners, Lightning Bolt had at least 75% of the audience whipped into a sweating, stomping, jumping frenzy-- to wander too close to the pit (at the heart of which the duo invariably plays) meant being sucked in and, possibly, risking your life if you aren't ready-- and almost 36 hours later my ears were still ringing. There's little doubt in my mind that I suffer a terminal deafness as punishment for not bringing earplugs. The energy in their tracks (umm... "songs"? I don't think so) is down right primal and urges the listener/audience to just completely let go... something that I wouldn't altogether suggest if you do manage to get to one of their shows, and yet something that I found to be almost unavoidable. Brian The Drummer plays with something that looks like a home made balaclava covering his face, with random tufts of hair sticking out, but this is more a matter of function than it is a fashion statement, so far as I can figure, since his microphone is sewn directly into the mask. The mic's cord leads to a small box of knobs and buttons and things, the nature of which I'm not entirely certain, which he manages to twiddle intermittently with his drumming. I'm assuming this is how he manages to sometimes sound like that Hell's Monkey. The energy is non-stop, despite plaing for three-plus hours.
But it's really their placement at the heart of the mosh pit, without a main stage, that really defines their performance and who they are-- at once putting themselves on the same level as the audience and saying that it's about the music and the energy, and not the performance and image. These aren't scenesters or hipster looking to be noticed, and that's almost the most important aspect of this music.
For a two man band, there's a lot to get through here. One or two listenings just isn't going to cut it, and for those of you who prefer to get your kicks on the "alternative" radio stations, with all of their "indie" bands (I don't even know how you'd have sstumbled way down here!), I honestly wouldn't even begin to try. This ain't for the faint of heart.
Think Philip Glass on crack. Think Can with more to get off their chests. Think _Modern Painters Magazine_ singing high praises (yes, it's true). Think Sonic Youth with more energy, more noise, more distortion, and more feed back had they kept going in the direction they started off in in the '80s. Think jumping out of a prop plane at cruising altitude with no parachute and somehow surviving, only with a bit more adrenaline. Think if all of these things got together and had an orgy and somehow in the middle of it a baby was born, now think that the baby had a secret evil twin that had been locked in a closet all of his life and somehow managed to escape and take over the other baby's life with plans to take over the world with his evil genius.
Yeah, well, if you think about that you're going to be way off point.
In the two months that I've owned this CD, there's hardly been a day that I didn't listen to it at least once. I must be sick.