"This is the one; Are you feeling it? I'm feeling it like the ants in my pants" announces Tim Shea on Don't Fuck The Apocalypse's 13 second mid-point interlude. Unfortunately, he's probably the only one that really is feeling this record for its entire duration, as the third album by Boston four-piece Black Helicopter does tend to drag on a bit, particularly in its latter stages.
Since their formation some 11 years ago, Black Helicopter's output could hardly be described as prolific, or in any way groundbreaking, yet their commitment to the cause - that cause being the preservation of the halcyon era of grunge - coupled with intelligent and occasionally quite sensitive lyrics does make them a prospect worth investigating. Thurston Moore certainly thinks so, having described them as 'the real deal' prior to signing them to his Ecstatic Peace! label before 2006's second album Invisible Jet hit the stores.
With songs like the politically charged 'Invasion Of Prussia' and riffs the size of juggernauts throughout, Black Helicopter are practiced masters of their craft. However, there's also an all-too-regular tendency to slip into reverse gear to the point of parody, ass on 'Golden Days' and 'Class Action'; Soundgarden and early Tool fans take note if you wish.
That said, Don't Fuck With The Apocalypse delivers the goods when Black Helicopter slide away from the expected norm. The jaunty countrified 'Record Player' ("play a song you haven't heard for years" being the operative words here...) and introspective squalor of 'In The Blood' suggest there are many other suitable avenues for the foursome to embark on should they ever become bored of listening to Badmotorfinger or Undertow. Indeed the rhythm section of Zack Lazar (bass) and Matt Nicholas (drums) stand out like sore thumbs at times, ensuring 'Pickle Jar' and 'None Taken's proto-grunge takes a more three-dimensional approach rather than the one punctuating most of this record.
Elsewhere, the instrumental experimentalism of 'Occupation Of Prussia' and punk orchestrations of 'Idiot Son' - despite only clocking in at a combined pairing of four minutes or so - offer other indications that a long-term respite from all things gr**ge could herald an interesting future for Black Helicopter. Unfortunately until then, it looks like their status as a mid-table collusion pining for bygone days is as good as it will ever get.
6Dom Gourlay's Score