Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Lizard’

Buzzhowl Records – 28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Anyone who was around Leeds’ live scene about ten years ago will have likely experienced the bludgeoning racket of Blacklisters. When it came to jarring, psychotic noise-rock a la The Jesus Lizard, they were beyond awesome in both volume and intensity, and they had songs, too. Most bands aspire to producing a body of work, but the reality is, any band that can craft one truly definitive song, then they’ve achieved more than more than 99.99% of bands. With ‘Trick Fuck’, Blacklisters nailed it, and in doing so assured their immortality. While for my money the rough and ready EP version was actually better than the one that appeared on their 2012 debut album, that riff… oh, that riff. Fuck, man. That riff. Anyway, the rest of the debut was absolutely belting.

They went a but quiet on the live scene, but second album Adult, which benefited from a beefier production found them on killer form, and with lead single ‘Shirts’ they actually matched ‘Trick Fuck’.

Geography and life kept them quiet thereafter, with just an EP and compilation of EP cuts and radio sessions keeping things simmering over the last five tears. Yes, five whole years.

But in the bleakest, most barren of times, after an eternity of lockdown, Blacklisters unexpectedly deliver album number three. Its arrival was heralded by the dropping of single cut ‘Sports Drinks’, which opens the album and is an instant classic. It starts with a sinewy guitar then the rhythm section hammers in at a hundred miles an hour and it’s the most driving, energised, manic things they’ve recorded to date. It’s tense, crazed, Billy’s indecipherable yelling half-buried under a punishing squall of guitar.

‘Strange Face’ is another explosion of noise that makes ‘Club Foot by Kasabian’ sound like loungecore, and is so lurching jarring and warped it makes The Jesus Lizard sound soft. The title track, up next, provides no respite, pinning down the kind of cyclical riff that marks all of their best songs, and once more evoking the best of early 90s Touch and Go, particularly Tar.

There is absolutely no let-up here: ‘White Piano’ is furious and it’s back-to-back with the brutal bass-driven feedback fest that is ‘Le Basement’. And that’s what differentiates Fantastic Man from its predecessors: it’s tighter, tauter, than anything they’ve done. If before their tightness was in some way disguised by a squalling sloppiness, the playing on Fantastic Man is rigid muscular, gym-pumped and vascular.

‘I can Read my Own Mind’ is the album’s one moment of levity, with hints of Bleach era Nirvana in the messy mix, but the soupy morass of guitars all layered up in a knot of noodly treble is knotty and takes some wading through, especially with the fuzzy-edged vocals – and then it goes a bit Dead Kennedys, only like a DK 45 played at 33 and the effect is cranium-splitting.

The final track, the six-and-a-half minute Shellac-like rhythm driven mess of nastiness that is ‘Mambo No. 5’ isn’t a cover, just as ‘Club Foot by Kasabian’ wasn’t a cover, which is Blacklisters all over – irreverent to the last, its comedic value is twisted by its sonic brutality. And fuck me, it is brutal: they’ve certainly saved the most violently noisy for last, and it clanks and squalls in a thunder of rums and snarling bass.

It didn’t seem possible, but with Fantastic Man, Blacklisters have taken things up another level. The hooks may be sparse, but the slanted, angular riffs are harsh and heavy, and from out of nowhere, this could well be their best work yet. Fantastic and then some.

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Hominid Sounds / Rip This Joint –10th May 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Do we need another sort-of semi-supergroup? When said collective features members of USA Nails, Death Pedals, It Often Takes A War, and Los Bitchos, we absolutely do. The label promises an album packed with ‘succinct slices of Jesus Lizard infused garage punk dealing with the big issues of our time from Brexit to Hollywood sex scandals’.

The lyrics aren’t always – or even that often – decipherable, but this is the kind of roaring guitar racket that you listen to first and foremost for sonic impact and the sheer viscerality. Then again, titles like ‘Biased Broadcasting Corporation’ give a fair indication of their anti-establishment antagonism. No messing: Dead Arms play proper punk, hardcore style, fast and incredibly furious: the rage burns and pours from every pore, every bar, every note. And yes, the influence of The Jesus lizard on their gritty, dirty, sweaty heft of noise is more than apparent even without single cut ‘Apocalypse Yow’ (which is straight out of the book of That Fucking Tank punning titles and is accompanied by a zero-budget video cobbled together from BBC footage from the House of Commons).

The howling mania and jolting, juddering, lurching rhythm and angular guitars are raw and primitive, and there’s nothing pretty about this. With the majority of the songs clocking in well under the three-minute mark, it’s a short album that achieves maximum impact through sheer brute force.

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Album Artwork

7th December 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Irk have been tearing it up on the Leeds scene for a little while now, and are a band at the epicentre of the DIY scene surrounding the CHUNK studio / rehearsal room space, tucked away in a rough and dilapidated industrial estate a good half-hour hike out of the city centre. It’s an apposite location for the thriving creative community of metal / sludge / noise bands.

The band describe themselves as ‘three polite wee rascals…. who make ugly, angular, noise-fused, math rock, consisting of drums, bass, and vocals’, and as such, belong to the city’s now well-established post-millennium tradition for producing seriously noisy bands who are bloody good. Many have fallen by the wayside, but a lineage of acts that includes Blacklisters, Hawk Eyes, That Fucking Tank, Holy State, Hora Douse, and yes, we’ll throw in Pulled Apart by Horses here, because they’re hardy quiet or genteel, speaks for itself.

I’ve caught them live a few times in the last couple of years, and have even performed on the same bill, exchanging books with front man Jack (I think Life Pervert is ace; I’ve no idea what he makes of The Rage Monologues). I’ve never once been disappointed by their performances, and it’s a reasonable expectation that Recipes from the Bible should sound like the work of a band who’ve been honing their material live for some time.

But by Christ, Irk really give it some here, and forge the title: this is a sonic concoction that cooks up the most unholy racket going. ‘I Bleed Horses’ begins with a howl and a barrage of frenetic drums and a mass of guitar racket. While you’re picking your jaw off the floor, check that tight, compressed, springy bass sound and the churning throb it produces that just about holds the whole squalling mess of discord together. Less that two and a half minutes in duration, the bled horses bleed out into ‘Life Changing Porno’, another unintelligible blizzard of noise that’s so chaotic it’s not always entirely clear if they’re all playing the same song: the tempo lurches unpredictably and whole racket collides in a spectacularly ugly explosion.

The seven-minute ‘The Observatory’ built around a choppy, cyclical riff reminiscent of Bleach era Nirvana, and again, it’s the menacing bass that dominates as they forge a suffocatingly claustrophobic density. It’s about as close to respite as it gets: with the only other exception being the verses of the lumbering ‘The Healer’, Recipes from the Bible is relentless in its screaming mania and brutal angles. The wild sax action on ‘You’re My Germ’ could be free jazz in another context, but here, it just adds another level of crazed hysteria to the mix.

Taking obvious cues from Shellac and Blacklisters, it’s a set of sharp-cornered, serrated brutality that stops, starts, shudders, judders, jolts and jerks – but unlike Shellac, Jack’s raving, gibbering, rabid vocals break free from the tight limits of the coiled tension of math-rock tropes and instead cut loose and careen into the wild noise of The Jesus Lizard. Snarling, howling, drawling and slavering, there’s something cracked, even psychotic. In combination, it’s a tense, intense set that sound deranged, dangerous: at times, its really quite uncomfortable. That’s a clear measure of success.

Chances are, reviews will tout this as being ‘uncompromising’, not least of all on account of it’s being self-produced by the band (of course). But Recipes from the Bible goes beyond that. Way beyond. It harnesses the full force of the band: so often, bands draft in producers only for the sound to be polished, slickened, rendered overtly ‘studio’. By keeping things in-house, they’ve retained the rawness, and the sheer velocity and unbridled power that defined them, and the sonic vision remains unadulterated. And beneath all of distortion and dirt, the ragged, jagged edges and the feel of a style of playing that’s loose and uncontained, there’s a remarkable and deceptive degree of precision.

It’s hard to find fault with Recipes from the Bible: there isn’t a weak track or an ounce of fat. There’s no filler, and no slack. There’s not a moment of tameness or timidity, and instead, they bring top-level ferocity and relentless fury, and the chances are you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better noise-rock album this year.

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Irk - Recipes

Svart Records – 31st August 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

I read ‘ffo Unsane, Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Blacklisters’ and practically jazzed my pants before I’d even opened the email, let along downloaded the promo. That was before I read the slick, sleazy, fluid-dripping pitch for Finland-based Throat’s sophomore album, as seeing the band plunging ‘head first into unprotected encounters with musical elements hardly even hinted at on their previous releases.’

‘Safe Unsound’ opens the album with a sparse into: just guitar and baritone croon that invited comparisons to Glenn Danzig. But then the guitar goes to picked notes and the atmosphere builds into more Neurosis territory… but they keep pulling back. You’re waiting for it to break, for something to happen… How long is it reasonable to hold back? I recall seeing Shellac-influenced Glasgow act Aereogramme circa 2003 and being bored to tears: there simply wasn’t enough reward for the patience of enduring the build-up. But then, Shellac can be masters of frustration: just listen to Terraform.Thankfully, Throat cut loose and hit the distortion pedals around the three-and-a-half minute mark during this eight-and-a-half minute epic. And the song has a sort of coda which is a repetitive, grinding loop worthy of early Swans, which culminates of two minutes of screeding feedback and noise. So far, so punishing. And there are still another seven songs left to go.

‘No Hard Shoulder’ justifies the Jesus Lizard/ Blacklisters comparisons, with its driving guitar and bass welded together and glued to pulverizing drums that forge a Melvins-ish take on grungy stoner rock. Gritty, shouty, unpolished, it also evokes the Touch ‘n’ Go vibe while also hinting at favourable parallels with contemporaries like Pissed Jeans. So far, my jizzed pants are justified, and the rest of the album doesn’t disappoint.

Things go a bit Techno Animal / Godflesh / NIN on ‘Shortage (Version)’ with its hefty, crashing beats, straining digital noise and thickly distorted vocals which, in combination, carve out a lugubrious, funereal piece. Dense and dark I equal measure, it provides a mid-album interlude of crushing, neogoth intensity that stands quite apart from the other tracks. and the sonorous, subsonic bass just kills.

‘Born Old’ slams back into 90’s T&G territory and sounds like Tar at their best. Obscure? Sure, but if you get the reference, the album’s for you. If you don’t, but are digging Throat, you need Tar in hour life. Really. ‘Rat Domain’ slams and churns hard, the jarring grunge riffery whipping up a churn that resonates in the gut, before closer ‘Maritime’ hammers home six minutes of brutally jarring noise-rock, which is angular, sinewy, and relentless in its abrasion, and even brings a hint of the gothic before piledriving into the home straight with a remarkably accessible, melodic finale. If it seems at odds with the rest of the album, it’s hardly a weak finish, and instead demonstrates that Throat aren’t all about the gnarly noise… just mostly.

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