Saturday, April 25, 2009

4Bitten - No More Sins

A four piece bitten by the rockbug is the slightly dubious origin of their name. As such it suits as they are, as you may expect, beholden to the standard bearers and biblical-type behemoths of blues-driven hard rock. So, yes, we’re talking the usual slurry of late sixties and pre-punk seventies colossi like from Janis to Whitesnake, and yeah the kinda drivetime drudgery that Thunder toil over without really taking to task. Wah-laden guitar solos, stodgy drums and everyman sessionistic bass should all be strung upside down, leaving their heads in the bass bins at a Motorhead gig for their guilt. Greek descended front femme Fofi has a Tia Carerre in Wayne’s World kinda wail with some juice in reserve to joust a la Joplin. Contrary to first cursory impressions it contains quite an inventory of signpost dissolving riffsticks, starting off with a oil-burning riff-regimen (Lightnin’ Crashing) that could turn chest hair into tassles. There’s an inability to clinch the deal though, seemingly, as so often, getting mugged at the other end of the alley from where they just scored by their desire to accommodate all tastes and not be too risqué, resulting in an inability to sustain a whole album. By second helping (Believe) some funk-lite has reared its unrequired insignia, ruining the quite shirt-billowing riff that almost spirits you away to a rocky desert outcrop with a Les Paul and a definite feeling of vertigo; Tell Me is the slow-building ballad to air-punching hymn for the suspicious; Rock’n’Roll Dreams the requisite rags to riches fantasy fulfilment from a film like Light Of Day and Push It To The Limit is as tired a water-treading funk-rock workout as the title indicates. As far as such bar-belting blues-based by the numbers rock bastings go this would be worth a once or twice over, though if you want some originality and, maybe moreover, personality, over cloying and much-prided professionality, then haul ass offa that highway, chile, and, all hyall, I dunno, await Saraya’s remastered double-disc reissue of their debut!
Stu Gibson
Therapy? - Crooked Timber

'My shame will comfort you...' - Crooked Timber

Blimey, twelfth (!) - and first for a few years - album from Northern Irish melodiscordants. Still vicious, with slashing knife-edge guitar mayhem and caustic currents spewing from the decisive desire to evolve and not stagnate under the dictates of musical climates that offers no cauterization just the stench of decaying open wounds suppurating through society's pressures to constrain oneself and conform. Nasty, broiling distorto-bass fixes you with a stare that has the soul of JJ Burnell and underpins the quietly apoplectic discourses befitting the influence of philosopher Immanuel Kant (“From the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”) and pummeling drums mesh under their long-standing melodic sensibility, which they never really recaptured after their initial, astounding brace of mini-albums back in the early nineties (Baby Teeth and Pleasure Death) and the faltering full-length debut Troublegum. Ranging from the New Model Army being drilled by Ministry on Enjoy The Struggle to Clowns Galore coruscating with Big Black harmonic disdain, onto almost Duran Duran style atmospherics dismembered and squished into Exiles and Blacken The Page, by way of epic martial stomp I Told You I Was Ill, this strides proudly, grimly and resplendent in grime-stained, slimy glory ahead of much rock and metal around at present. Throughout there’s a poise and a sense, if not strength, of purpose that may or may not reflect the thoughtful tack they’ve taken that acts as a successful counterpoint to the churning, angular attack in the musical tension and conflict. The faithful can rest assured though that no pandering to Killers style sap-pop has taken place amidst head therapissed(off) Andy Cairns. Still bitter, still twisted and ever so slightly sinister too. Whether such withering cynicism can cross no-man’s-land and beyond their usual slipstream and corral any new audience remains to be seen but in today’s stifling hegemony it wouldn’t be in any way undeserved as this is a refreshing blast of bleak stink that stands alone. And that’s alone and aloft not just alone as in cast adrift.
Stu Gibson
Draven - Eden

If you’re initially enticed by the cover sticker saying ‘half-cowboy bar brawl, half monsters of rock arena…’ - well the first part anyway - excitement levels will grow sharply at the opening waves of wah onslaught that are little short of Supersuckers Run Like A Motherfucker straight outta Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. Alas, after a mere sixteen seconds the guitars cut out to literally fulfil the second part of that sticker proclamation, for a funk-shuffle verse behinders the horizon resembling none other than Scarborough’s sod-faced sea-dodgers Little Angels, a fact that comes to the fore as soon as track three in the form of turgid, string laden, epic-striving, titular ballad that makes Ozzy’s history of balladic dross seem something out of his hero’s The Beatles backpages (a feat repeated on antiseptic whimper I Don’t Care). This colours not just the track but the entire proceedings thereafter. So like you ignore the Parental Advisory stickers (as opposed to them attracting your attention) this is really a crock of classic rock dross, not unlike Extreme playing at Skid Row. So, to shine a supernova of light onto the warning, don’t be duped into thinking Eden may be a treat of western-fringed rawkarowl sporting metal saddles or a diesel-dramming biker phalanx of thunderboogie, for this lies heavily, if not entirely, on it’s stadium aspirations, even rollickin contender Fight, which falls into the same cavernous pit that Blitz did by not having the balls to keep an adequately (was gonna put perfectly but that would’ve meant it’s in the league of Let There Be Rock or Hell’s Bells or something) riff going, like a novice with a power tool. By the time third simper-whinge Breathe filters through your absconding senses, following which Stranger applies the usual format of crunchy riff being seduced by a sagging, effects-laden arpeggio you’ll be wondering if this is a tax write off scam. Disappointing. Draven? Drivel.
Stu Gibson
Bob Log 111 - My Shit Is Perfect
Voodoo Rhythm

One man blues berserker Log regales us once agin from ‘neath his flight helmet and telephone contraption with chest-beating, alpha-male tales from a junkyard of broken scales. Log’s syndrome is hypnotic riff repetition in a tuning as idiosyncratic as Leadbelly’s set to sociopathic woodcutter rhythms that will make you dance like Mike Patton in the From Out Of Nowhere vid, deliver rectal evacuating punches like Ricky Hatton – quite possibly to yourself - and shake your head ‘round like you’re forever landing in your leading lady’s Dolly Parton-esque abundant breast. He’s no snake oil salesman with quack remedies but mantras for thy feets to shuffle about to, with sermons spoken in tongues collected from roadside safaris in the deep south of wild dogs intestines. Though noted for his stage antics, this Arizona desert rat is a long ways from an addled curio or novelty that he may have once seemed – and anyone that decries a guy who can entice the female audience contingent to mix his whiskey with their nipples is simply jealous. (I abhor the cunt by the way – I just want some more VR rekkids!). This isn’t as metabolically disintegrating as his earliest serrated ultra-Sonic torrents of tormented country blues stomps – he wails on opener Goddam Sounds Good ‘Turn up my fucking guitar’ and such cantankerous inducements should be adhered to more - though this proves a boon as he resembles an electric-shock crazed JJ Cale or a Hubert Sumlin swinging every hellhound by it’s scabby tail as he clangs chaingang hollers such as Bang Your Thing At The Ball, the titular track and Shake A Little, Wiggle It, And Jiggle It Too. Some of the splintering crisp-packet percussion doesn’t sit too well atop the gut-atrophying congregation of gregarious chin/ear/forehead swelling spittoon blues grooves at times but insensate serenades like Mr. Sis Boom Bah, Bucktooth Potato and Bumper Car he adeptly demonstrates his undoubted proficiency at the asylum inmates grand prix pile up of pickpocket-fast fingerpicking and artery-ailing slide-swipes. The occasional, purposeful tape-glitches that riddle various tracks like Bump Pow! Bump Bump Bump Pow! and Manipulate Your Figments manage to meld thirties carny blues of lore to trailer park monster truck trash-fests between the best of Butthole Surfers and Ministry while the bunny-fuck of Shinkansen Teh!! could easily eclipse itself under Belgian hardcore rave or in Death Metal enclaves. From the Beefheart (and maybe even Beck in his jalopy-rap delivery) influence you can see why Tom Waits is such a huge fan (indeed, twas once curiously rumoured to have been Tom himself behind the still elusive façade), though this possesses little, or none, of Waits’ narrative style nor does that matter as this moonshine and methedrine shaboogie is here to allow you to dance yer way merrily to delirium and devilment, and anything that makes you swill ‘Swamp swoowmp swoowwmp swooomp music’ round your open mouth is only ever a good thing. Not as sassy or malevolent as you may expect, by no means perfect – again what’s the point in that, especially on a label with such a ridiculously brilliant catalogue? - but for a unique re-imagining, or re-acquainting with, old idioms, this unruly secretion is right at home on this label that serves as a hovel for the most vital hoodoo. To paraphrase old Dolly, ya gotta be clever to be this cretinous.
Stu Gibson
Metamorphosis - Dark

Self-importance might be the epitome of prog but this ponderously labours in the completely po-faced parlour possessing none of the faint whimsy, fey grandeur or mystical allusions of Pink Floyd, personality of say Jean Michel Jarre or sleight of hand, insight (!) or sheer insane (apparent) perception and admirably ridiculous theatricality of King Crimson or even ELP. Weighed down with delusions of splendour, or so assured of it’s sagacity it’s simply purely patronising, this is pockmarked with paltry banalities and pre-teen philosophy addressing socio-political and economic declines such as ‘You praise your supersonic plane, sure you’ll need it / But there’s no safe place where you can fly to’ on Hey Man or the pathetic scratch at fat-cats that is the laughably trite ‘I heard about him, a bank CEO / He must be a kind of superman / He earns five hundred times more than I / He says he really feels no shame to it’ (with accidental self-awareness Knowing All I Do Is Worth Nothing) and with an average song length of just under eight minutes this has all the excitement, urgency and sense of portent as an out of date Christmas TV guide. So if lyrics aren’t exactly your tour de force – their asinine innocence make Genesis’ Land of Confusion appear a Cohen-esque epiphany - perhaps it would be slightly more appeasing if the music didn’t sound like an outtake from a Will Ferrell lampoon or something from Blake’s 7 or Tomorrow’s World circa 1983 done by the Young Gods as a joke for some light relief or to relinquish a contract. The climate’s sure in a parlous state – economic, social, political and whatever else but this somnambulant sermon can scarcely change key or tempo in the manner of it’s genre, and thus their progressive status merely equates to tedium not adroit lunacy. If the world’s gonna be flooded like a Crue backstage area in 1987 then this damp squib isn’t something to stem the slightest trickle never mind anything resembling a tide.
Stu Gibson
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