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Chutzpah!
Chutzpah!

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ginger, he don't ever stop..., 24 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Chutzpah! (Audio CD)
Back in the mid-'90s a certain rock magazine, then in the process of slowly but surely losing the plot, created a nonexistent scene as a purported antidote to Britpop, predictably christened Britrock. This consisted in practice of lumping two absolutely brilliant bands who had already established enough success on their own terms anyway - Therapy? and the Wildhearts - together with a shedload of uninspired, borderline pub rock rip-offs/dilutions of those two bands. And what do you know? Those two bands are still here, and still eminently worth listening to, and all the rip-offs would nowadays scarcely even scrape a 'Where Are They Now?' column.
The Wildhearts are a group I've always considered a kind of photographic negative of Therapy?. Where Andy Cairns and co. are dark, gnarled and twisted, yet easy-going and damn near cuddly in real life, Ginger and co. are purveyors of the kind of soaring, instantly classic pop rock that should be on Radio One forever and ever - but behind the scenes, there has always been heartbreak and bad, bad vibes. This album is no exception. There is an aching poignancy to the melodies and those massive, out-of-nowhere super-harmonies (check out 'John Of Violence' - wow!) that feels real and lived-in and regretful. Ginger's capacity for writing songs that simultaneously make you want to dance and cry is - unbelievably, after nearly two decades - still very much in full flow. As is his gift for insistent, sandblaster hooks that rival, and sometimes surpass, Elvis Costello and Bob Mould.
After the slightly over-the-top Metallica-riffmonstering angerfest that was 2007's self-titled, 'Chutzpah' is a sweeter pill sonically, although the razor-edged almost White Zombie-esque 'The Jackson Whites' (with the bleak chorus "I'm a lonely man and I'm dying in a hole,") makes it clear there's still a serious amount of anger under the surface. Elsewhere, 'Mazel Tov Cocktail' has a pure rock'n'roll swing that echoes the Dogs D'Amour, 'The Only One' makes you want to punch the air and get all manly, and sounds like an emo band if we were in a parallel universe where emo bands were actually good, and the crazed title track revists the band's madcap 'Fishing For Luckies' days, packing in rusty-knife riffing, a vocodered (!) chorus, several time signature wipeouts, and a captivatingly beautiful repeated melodic phrase to fade out and close.
Too often words like 'enduring' and 'veterans' are applied to the Wildhearts, as though they were some horrible old Status Quo-type denim-and-leather warhorse. They're not, they're a unique group who sound as vital and sparky now as they did on the day they appeared, ironically far more youthful and free-spirited than many younger bands. Perhaps it's too late to recommend them to anyone other than their already-established fans (who in any case won't need any particular recommendation), but I would like to, so: throw away all that Green Day and Enter Shikari rubbish, kiddies! You don't know what you're missing out on...


Crack the Skye
Crack the Skye
Price: £4.25

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mastodon's (inner) space album, 24 July 2009
This review is from: Crack the Skye (Audio CD)
Though not quite up there with its third-eye-shaggingly awesome predecessor, 2006's 'Blood Mountain', the final piece in Mastodon's elementally-themed quartet of albums has its own rewards. I don't think it's too much of an exaggeration to say that they are now, as a band, officially better than Metallica ever were. At no point did they ever pander to their audience; they began on a towering plateau of accomplished musicianship and hardcore fury, and only improved exponetially from there, expanding in all directions at once. Metallica's equivalent fourth, '...And Justice For All', showed a band misunderstanding how to make a progressive rock album, imagining it to mean simply stretching what should have been a four-minute song several more minutes. Mastodon, by contrast, have a grasp of dynamics, texture and track sequencing (this last is crucial) that is more or less beyond anyone else in metal, save perhaps Meshuggah, Opeth and Devin Townsend.
As ever, the Mastodon style is unmistakeable. They play metal as though it were constantly in flux, veering and lurching, contracting and expanding on Brann Dailor's ever-queasy drum patterns, differing melodies, hooks and fleeting stylistic homages occasionally rising to the surface like a hydra's heads. For instance, 'Ghost Of Karelia''s opening chimes and vocal tics are distinctly reminiscent of Tool, but there is never any element of rip-off. Likewise, the beginning fanfare 'Oblivion' rides a slow-motion chorus of leering, moaning voices that echo (but never ape) the "chamber of wailing lost souls" effect Alice In Chains pioneered.
The story of a paraplegic who inadvertently astrally-projects himself through a wormhole and back into pre-revolutionary Russia (where his problems increase after a Tsarist divination cult insert his anima into Rasputin's body...then the devil turns up...it all gets rather complicated), this is Mastodon's "air" album, and features more swarming, trippy effects surfing the thunderhead guitars than the band have ever used before. There are what appear to be microtonal pianos and synths, giving off eerie, high-pitched Carpenter soundtrack vibes, most noticeably on the title track, wherein a vocodered voice also turns up during the midsection, before it plunges back into the remorseless grinding verse (Neurosis' Scott Kelly providing his iron-foundry roar to a Mastodon album for the third time). The overall swirling, melting, rushing feeling of the album, complete with the creepy dischords and wailing voices, brings the ghosts of avant-cyber-metallers Voivod and interstellar-astro-rockers Monster Magnet together with the arcane '70s prog elements.
Albums this ambitious inevitably contain elements that just plain DON'T WORK (the title track's almost poppy choruses and reprises seem to spring from nowhere), but the flipside is they are often able to reach heights no one and nothing else can. The concluding 'The Last Baron' is proof of this. Possibly Mastodon's peak so far, 13 solid minutes of music both terribly sad-sounding and obscurely triumpant, it builds and builds to a heart-bursting hugeness, repeating its sections and themes feverishly and expanding upon them all the while, so as each part comes around again it seems to be played with ever more frenzy and fury. And there's a faintly silly Zappa-style guitar goof-off in the middle, just to keep the listener on their toes.


Crooked Timber
Crooked Timber
Offered by Springwood Media
Price: £6.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars T?'s best, and darkest, for years, 12 July 2009
This review is from: Crooked Timber (Audio CD)
Therapy? are one of Britain's most underrated bands. Like Motorhead, like The Fall, they plough a lonely furrow, always the same, always different. The general consensus is that they never topped 1994's diamond-brilliant 'Troublegum' - but the truth is, they never even tried to.
They are also one of Britain's most unique bands. Not through being self-consciously arty or inacessible, but simply because their music is highly distinctive, oozing character, and makes entirely new flavours from their influences. Those influences, moreover, come largely from a glorious and now mostly forgotten period in the 1980s when hardcore punk became darker, wilder, weirder and more messed-up than it had ever been before. One thinks of Black Flag, Big Black, Scratch Acid, the Alternative Tentacles and Amphetamine Reptile bands...smart, funny, angry guys all.
After 2006's 'One Cure Fits All', which seemed a little sparse and patchy (much like Husker Du's rushed-sounding late-period albums, actually), this new one is Therapy?'s most bleak and introspective work since 1999's bug-eyed, claustrophobic nightmare 'Suicide Pact - You First'.
Mortality seems much on Andy Cairns' mind. "Time's attrition grinds these landscapes," he wheedles to himself on the desolate title track, the aural equivalent of driving through barren countryside, before imagining himself a ghost haunting those left behind: "My shade will comfort you..."
It's a little disconcerting to have Cairns (a disarmingly cheerful chap in real life) intoning, with no illusion, lines like "One of these days, when nature spring cleans, I'll be part of the flotsam that goes," on the closing, coldly purposeful prowl of 'Bad Excuse For Daylight". But perhaps it's healthy, in a strange way, to approach the void with neither fear nor regret, as he seems to be doing.
He also has other existential freakouts, concerning identity, on 'The Head That Tried To Strangle Itself', this opener as carefully paced and murderously precise as the closer. "Am I just a noise the brain makes?...there is nothing in the mind except the mind itself." Philosophical musings like this are unusual territory, to say the least.
There are upbeat moments. 'Clowns Galore' revolves around the screwiest razor-wire riff this side of Big Black's 'Passing Complexion'. And 'Magic Mountain', the album's highlight, is something unprecendented in Therapy?'s career so far. A ten-minute instrumental piece, it breaks the album's mood by being quirky and playful, the guitar making whirring, laughing sounds as it rises and falls and chases its tail (you can even hear it deliver a punchline at one point). I don't know if the title refers to Lightning Bolt's 'Hypermagic Mountain', but there is a similar dementedly effervescent vibe to LB throughout (albeit much less noisy).
This is a damn good album, full of surprises, and the product of warped, curious, intelligent minds. Therapy? have a dwindling audience these days it would appear, and that's a small tragedy. Appreciate them, 'cause there's no one else like them. (Alright, apart from maybe Andy Falkous' McLusky and Future Of The Left...but that's another story.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2014 12:59 AM BST


The Bedlam in Goliath
The Bedlam in Goliath
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.60

4.0 out of 5 stars the joys of maximalism, 14 Jun. 2009
This review is from: The Bedlam in Goliath (Audio CD)
2006's 'Amputecture' was a record of brilliant moments, but ultimately an impenetrable one even by the Mars Volta's standards. Perhaps the most obviously improv-based album of their career, this led to some spectacular moments of musical vertigo but also lengthy sections of unfathomable squawking seemingly hooked together at random. 'The Bedlam In Goliath' provides a welcome shot in the arm; it's the most energetic and aggressive record this fascinating, infuriating band have released to date, with hardcore punk velocity boiling over from its lava-flow grooves.
This doesn't mean, as some have said, that it's a return to At The Drive-In territory particularly. There's still about five albums'-worth of musical ideas somehow crammed onto one disc. It's still the musical equivalent of downing several shots of tequila in a row. And Cedric and Omar have always been a walking retort to those who think progressive rock is the haven of cloistered, academic chin-strokers. In stark contrast, they seem to live inside a William Burroughs or Barry Gifford novel, with every day taken up with either making music, taking drugs, or having weird/scary experiences. Whether you believe it or not, this album has one hell of a back story - the inadvertent conjuring, via a ouija board, of a spirit calling itself Goliath, demanding to be released from whatever realm it was trapped in. When the bandmembers refused to assist it, it threw a spectacular tantrum and 'cursed' the recording sessions in a variety of ways. So while the lyrics would seem to be, as ever, gibberish, there are an awful lot of references to the occult and parallel dimensions on here if you look closely, and you get the impression they know what they're talking about.
It doesn't really mattter what the Mars Volta's songs are 'about', though. This is what makes nonsense out of the constant accusations of pretention that get levelled at them - the words, like the music, are a constant flux, an action-painting splatter, and they can mean whatever you want them to. Cedric's voice - as ever, able to effortlessly trounce the likes of Buckley and Bjork without even trying - is ultimately just another instrument, an echoing trumpet call in the vortex.
A particularly advantageous addition to the band's ranks is their new drummer Thomas Pridgeon, who lays down some of the most incredible rock drumming this side of Jimmy Chamberlain. Thanks to him, the tracks *surge* like never before, the likes of 'Goliath' itself a vertitable psychedelic locomotive running relentlessly over your skull. The choruses to songs like 'Ouroborous' are so sharp and vehement they practically take the listener's head off with one slice. And while there's nothing quite as utterly barking mad as the last album's 'Tetragrammaton' or 'Day Of The Baphomets', one could spend weeks lost in the hydra-headed ferocity of the opening 'Aberinkula', the swirling wonder of 'Cavalettas', or the sinisterly aquatic-narcotic 'Soothsayer'.
It all gets a bit much towards the end of this unrelenting 78-minute mind-pummel, and by the time 'Conjugal Burns' becomes the playful bonus cover (replete with attempted "English" singing) of Syd Barrett's 'Candy And A Current Bun', it's something of a relief, if only so you can catch your breath again.


Kung Fu Cocktail Grip
Kung Fu Cocktail Grip
Price: £18.14

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One-off post-Tad riff monster, 3 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Kung Fu Cocktail Grip (Audio CD)
With 1991's '8-Way Santa' and 1993's 'Inhaler', Tad Doyle dropped two of the heaviest chunks of grunge thunder ever to have emanated from Seattle, influencing future psycho-punks Therapy? and Mcclusky more than a little. To little or no critical fanfare, I might add. Then came their almost entirely overlooked studio finale 'Infra-Red Riding Hood', which saw the band growing and changing like all good guitar groups should grow and change - the quieter parts became more melodic and the harder parts became ever more abrasive, in other words. And then, although Tad continued on in some form until 1998, nothing more was heard from them.
Until 2001, that is, when the hulking Doyle unveiled Hog Molly, a band whose sheer volume and density made his own physique look puny. They only put out one record during their sadly all-too-brief existence (released on ex-Faith No More bassist Billy Gould's Kool Arrow label), and here she is: pruned of the (very occasional) artier side of Tad, and with the size of the RIFFS (the only size that matters) amped up further than ever before.
Cranked up, out of control and drunk on god knows what backwoods moonshine, this seesaws between dragstrip Motorhead roar ('Mr Right', 'Hogronicity', the totally gonzo 'F**k The Red Lights') and occasional Melvins-esque doom-crawl ('Scorched'). It's incredibly raw, basic, chunky rock, but it runs roughshod over the drab artlessness that occasionally affects studiedly "unpretentious" records by virtue of the incredibly tight and vicious playing - the bass could crack concrete, the guitars grind like a bulldozer's engine, the drumming could reduce Keith Moon to a puddle on the floor, and Tad himself sounds more dangerous than ever (check the intro to 'Alcohog', where he makes a quite extraordinary, animalistic rattling grunt in his over-excitement). The peak of the album is the mighty 'Moonraker', which is like being clubbed repeatedly with a pig-iron anvil. One huge hammering power riff.
At 15 songs long, it could probably do with trimming - 'Blood Pusher' and the closing 'Autotang' are overlong, and 'Let It Ride', seeing as how it doesn't do anything the other tracks don't do better, could easily go entirely.
Clearly Hog Molly did not do the business, as they were never heard from again, and Tad now has a third band gigging in and around Seattle whom I'm unsure even have a record deal. It's a shame, though I doubt that the man himself cares overmuch. But just remember, Lemmy isn't the be-all end-all when it comes to locomotive speedfreak rawk.


Vantage Point
Vantage Point
Price: £11.37

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dEUS Mark 2, part 2, 25 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Vantage Point (Audio CD)
dEUS quietly released two of the best albums of the late 1990s with 'In A Bar, Under The Sea' and 'The Ideal Crash' before disappearing from everyone's radar. In 2005, Tom Barman (who pretty much *is* dEUS in the same way that Matt Johnson *is* The The) returned with a comeback album 'Pocket Revolution', which saw half the band replaced and a slightly calmer, though somehow even more enigmatic sound. What had previously been schizophrenically genre-hopping was now split into more or less two opposing poles: smoky barroom ballads and dark travelogues like 'Bad Timing' and 'Sun Ra' where you wondered what the hell was going through Barman's mind...
Here's the next chapter, and it's obvious that the answers aren't any clearer. dEUS have always been a band that exist and encapsulate their own world, one of arty bohemia and melancholy, late-night regret, but also one underpinned with a vaguely frightening atmosphere of churning neuroses and split-second, barely repressed violent impulses. They totally immerse the listener inside the song's narrator's head, and they are also defiantly European - a song like 'The Architect' (Kraftwerk-goes-disco, essentially) couldn't and indeed wouldn't be written by any British band, which perhaps goes some way to explaining why Barman is such a perpetually overlooked figure.
He has the songwriting chops, however. It is true that dEUS' softer songs are nowadays more soporific than the tense noir they used to radiate ('Eternal Woman' and 'Smokers Reflect' are dolefully pretty but not especially attention-grabbing) but their harder tracks are getting ever more ornate and hypnotic. The languidly sinister, smeared guitars (reflecting the album artwork) of 'Is A Robot' and the krautrock-grunge 'Favourite Game' are cases in point here, as is 'Oh Your God' (spiralling Queens Of The Stone Age verses juxtaposed with an unexpectedly folky, rousing chorus). But the album highlight is undoubtedly 'Slow', which rides a rumbling Beefheartian rhythm to a unforgettably ghoulish, synthesised refrain. It sounds deeply sinister and deeply sad all at once.
You get the impression the set could have been a couple of songs longer, which is not something you'd ordinarily say in the age of overstuffed 79:59 double concept albums, but maybe it's for the best. Barman has crafted another portrait of lingering European ennui and nagging doubt, and then he gets the hell outta Dodge. A new album could (already) be on the way, apparently, so watch him do the same next time around.


Chinese Democracy
Chinese Democracy
Offered by Slinky Music
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Use Your Illusion III, essentially, 11 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Chinese Democracy (Audio CD)
...and there's nothing wrong with that. The '...Illusion's were where the world finally realised that Axl wasn't so much Steven Tyler as some sort of Mickey Rourke/Klaus Kinski/Jim Morrison hybrid, and that for all his antics (yes, the man is clearly nuts, and not in the usual drink-and-drug-addled way, either) he was also a phenomenally gifted songwriter and arranger, a fact which the eventual, inevitable backlash against him (was there one single good word written about GN'R throughout the whole of 1992/3?) conveniently obscured.
Accusations of laziness and tardiness are off the mark. Firstly, Axl made and scrapped about 3-4 albums' worth of material in the time it's taken to get this baby off the ground. Secondly, you can't say any of the songs here are underwritten. The pomp and bombast herein is matched only by prime Smashing Pumpkins, and even their fine, underrated comeback album 'Zeitgeist' sounds like the Wedding Present compared to the densely orchestrated arrangements that we got here. Songs pile up and up and up using every trick in the book. It's ludicrous, but it's also stunning. Corgan aside, no one writes them like this anymore. This is a veritable Dundee cake in a mainstream musical world of stale breadcrumbs.
Also, you can rail at Axl's egotism 'til you're blue in the face, but the embarrassing truth is that he could out-write and out-sing and out-play anything your favourite flavour-of-the-month could ever, ever come up with. Not one single track here is bad. From the steadily uncoiling power of the title track to the slightly demented industrial/disco/two-step 'Shackler's Revenge' to the snarling, undulating 'Better' to the volcanically grandiose 'There Was A Time' (best ignore the unfortunate acronym, eh?) to the best Bond theme that never was 'If The World' to the gorgeous golden piano work on 'Street Of Dreams' and 'Catcher In The Rye' to the twin-uppercut-punch rockouts 'Scraped' and 'Riad N'The Bedouins' (think 'Gold Against The Soul'-era Manics torn to pieces by Jane's Addiction) to the almost Alice In Chains doom of 'Sorry' to the grimy 'Don't Damn Me'-ish swagger of 'IRS' to the even more volcanically grandiose (albeit almost hookless) 'Madagascar' to the frankly high camp operatic heartbreaker 'This I Love' to the final towering, paranoically ranting 'Prostitute', we got ourselves a winner here, people. Nice gold embossed packaging, too.
It's not sold nearly as well as it might once have done. No matter. We're in an entirely different era for rock now; if the first three seconds of a song don't sound good from the download, just ditch it and move on, huh? Axl in the middle of this nonsense comes across like the world's last Siberian tiger wandering onto the 'X Factor' set (and hopefully devouring all the participants with impunity). Admit it, you'd miss him if he wasn't here...


Nude With Boots
Nude With Boots
Price: £10.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Melvins throw another curveball, 23 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Nude With Boots (Audio CD)
'Nude With Boots' is the second album Melvins have recorded using the double-drumming lineup amalgamation with Big Business, and it is something of a puzzler compared to the (fairly) straightforward barbaric ultra-rock power of 2006's '(A) Senile Animal'. The dynamic range is considerably wider, not in terms of volume but in terms of tone, while the pacing is seemingly deliberately designed to keep the listener on their toes, following a pattern of fast-fast-slow, or loud-loud-quiet. What you wind up with is an odd, subtle record with a great deal to offer but a tendency to keep the listener at arm's length.
When I say 'tone', I mean that some of this stuff is the most upbeat and celebratory-sounding stuff this bunch of misanthropes have ever come up with. The excellent title track is so jubilant it will make you sing along without having a clue what's actually coming out of your mouth (see also the Fall's 'Stephen Song' for another example of the catchy-but-incomprehensible). The opening 'The Kicking Machine' sounds like some operatic fanfare played by elephants from from Mars, and 'Billy Fish', following quickly on its heels, ambles along in a sly but friendly manner, like some wisecracking drunk hustler.
But then we slam headfirst into the dense, unrelenting brick wall that is 'Dog Island' - and what I mean when I talk about the odd pacing becomes clear. This then eventually bleeds into a slightly aimless ambient digression - without Lustmord guiding things, drifty soundscapes are perhaps not the Melvins' ideal niche.
The twists keep on coming - rather than the relentless, murderous onward drive of the last album, Buzzo appears to be going for a chaotically slammed-together scrapyard patchwork of an album with a sort of 'hey, this would sound real quirky coming after that' home-brewed feel. The final three songs illustrate this perfectly - a staggering, bad-tempered behemoth that sounds like a very drunk Godflesh is followed by a very brief, enigmatic speedy rocker with Butthole Surfers-type pitch-shifted vocals, which in turn is followed by the closer 'It Tastes Better Than The Truth', a grinding loop of industrial noise that revels in its own pointless/joyous cacophony.
This has had a few fans proclaiming it a disappointing follow-up to '...Animal', but there's really no point comparing the two albums. That one was a Porsche, this one is some sort of 'Mad Max' hybrid vehicle; battle-scarred, barely holding together, but meaner than Lord Humongous with a hangover.


Daunt Square To Elsewhere: Anthology 1982-88
Daunt Square To Elsewhere: Anthology 1982-88

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A barbed-wire rainbow..., 1 July 2008
Thank god for this release, is all I can say, given that Microdisney's actual back catalogue remains shamefully obscure, and the second-hand copies of the studio releases that do pop up appear to be currently fetching stupid prices. And heaven forbid I should descend into the netherworld of "things aren't as good as they used to be" grumbling, but it's a pretty poor judgement on the current state of indie music if the best indie songs I've heard for donkeys' years (heck, maybe ever) come from an outfit that split up twenty years ago.
I know full well that Cathal Coughlan's solo albums are things of brooding beauty, and I know full well that the Fatima Mansions were the finest scathing jagged rock band of their generation (and I know that Bubonique could have given early-era Ween a run for their money), but I managed to surprise myself by realising that Microdisney were the best thing he was ever involved with. And this is coming from someone who cannot stand the Smiths, or Steely Dan, or the Divine Comedy - three groups I've heard bandied about as comparisons.
Shred the comparisons. Microdisney had something quite unique and special going on - rich musical backdrops drawing from American country-rock, hints of soul, and the more haunting and crepuscular corners of wispy early-'80s indie (courtesy of Sean O'Hagan), in startling juxtaposition with CC's deep, rich croon, not as ominous as Nick Cave's, but a smoother and technically, stronger voice. And those lyrics...
It's true that the second disc here is likely better than the first, which is maybe too underproduced for its own good at times, though it still contains gems like 'This Liberal Love', the venomous 'Love Your Enemies', '464' (wherein Cathal channels his inner Henry Rollins for a minute of vein-bulging screaming, then winks "Oh dearie me, I'm in a state" as the music subsides to an insouciant lollop) and the standout 'Loftholdingswood', a gorgeous slice of dark outlaw country-cum-jangle-pop with a menacing accusatory chorus that swings in like a pendulum.
CD2 is a tour de force. Cathal sings like a god throughout. The occasional cheese-laden '80s production touches somehow accentuate the stark, lonely yet desperately angry 'Past' and the despairing anthem 'Birthday Girl'. 'Rack' showed the band to possess balls of steel in being one of the very few straight bands from that era to address AIDS (albeit obliquely and poetically), and the increasingly inventive string arrangements on this song and 'Mrs Simpson' turn them into glowering lounge-lizard numbers. Then throw in the jaunty-but-deadly post-nuclear fantasy 'Town To Town' (a certain type of ego mocked for its self-obsession amid "the sick winter for a thousand years"), a couple of barbed attacks on yuppiedom nowhere near as crude and obvious as some bands would make such songs, and the grand finale 'Gale Force Wind', which was more or less the greatest single of the 1980s. Yes, really.
Enough rhapsodising. If you're at all into intelligent guitar music and you're not au fait with Microdisney, you really, really don't know what you're missing.


Feel the Darkness
Feel the Darkness

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ignore all previous reports: THIS is hardcore., 6 April 2008
This review is from: Feel the Darkness (Audio CD)
Christ on a bike. Poison Idea, underground legends in the US punk scene, not to mention the fattest band in hardcore history (check out the inner sleeve for some beautiful shots of war-elephant turbo-Tad Doyles from hell), were also quite possibly the most insanely angry and self-destructive group of individuals ever to have walked into a recording studio. It was nothing short of miraculous that they survived to make more than one single, and yet somehow they've carried on for well over 20 years now, albiet with constantly shifting line-ups and at least one total break-up, lasting from 1993 to the early 2000s.
'Feel The Darkness', dating from 1990, is the one PI record everyone in the know owns, and with good reason. The group has matured and stretched out enough that thrash-metal, hardcore punk and the straightforward Motorhead motorcycle roar are all incorporated into one seemless sound rather than a patchwork like those horrible 'crossover' metal-hardcore groups of the mid-'80s. The pace is never anything less than that of an out-of-control monster truck laden with high explosives heading towards the Grand Canyon, the bursts of guitar soloing are insane, the riffing is thicker and nastier than most death metal, and Jerry A's vocals and lyrics rival Rollins' on 'Hard Volume' and Mike Muir's on the first Suicidal Tendencies album for sheer unhinged vitriol. It's not difficult to picture an enraged buffalo sitting behind the mic on songs like 'Deep Sleep' and 'Welcome To Krell' (don't do amphetamines, kids) rather than a human being, while on the closing monstrosity of a title track, he howls and howls like nothing I've ever heard.
There are a couple of generic punk throwaways ('Taken By Surprise' and 'Nation Of Finks', I'm looking at you), but there's also 'The Badge' (as covered by Pantera) and 'Alan's On Fire' (as covered by Machine Head). Both cover versions sound like piano ballad renditions of 'Tiptoe Through The Tulips With Me' compared to the originals.
Poison Idea reformed in 2003, but to date there has been no new releases, unfortunately, despite promises. I guess the drugs-and-drink demon is still on their collective shoulder, and of course their founding guitarist, Tom 'Pig Champion' Roberts (a man who made the average sumo wrestler look anorexic) sadly though perhaps unsurprisingly died a few years ago. But we can hope...


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