This thick slab o’ jet-black wax, replete with hunched figures of bloody intent on each of its sides, is a four-way split in two senses: one, it features four bands delivering one song apiece; two, it’s released by four different labels, each of which has previously released material by at least one of the featured acts. So, to make things a little easier – to make the critical process that bit simpler and get this review done before Rock School comes on the television – the following review will also be a four-way split: one band at a time, one song at a time, one label at a time. Got it? Get it…
‘Please Contact Me’
This is a nothing piece, an opener of little purpose other than to rupture ear drums as early as possible. Most Todd compositions at least possess a modicum of melody, however butchered it is by super-amplified bombast, but ‘Please Contact Me’ – so called because of the answering machine message it samples, presumably; there are no real vocals – is nothing more than noise. Period. There’s talk of employing professional vocalists and time wasting before what might be a human voice comes screaming from speakers already pulsating with the throb of static turned up past eleven. As a song, in the strictest sense, this is rubbish; as a lesson in aural violence, Todd prove themselves to be quite the star teachers.
‘Once More Forever’
Or: the Jesus Lizard re-imagined by real ale drinkers in a basement with no lights, little ventilation and rat shit all over the peeling linoleum floor. ‘Once More Forever’ rattles its brittle bones silly before erupting, repeatedly; cataclysmic drumming always telegraphing the arrival of the next slurred vocal take. Guitars are slapped at, fingers spread wide, rather than strummed and the clarity of words is lost, forever, in a bubbling broth of neighbour-angering sludge rock. It’s quite, quite possible that playing this with a window open would breach the health and safety guidelines of your particular county council. Pray they don’t come a knockin’ when you’re a rockin’.
‘I Shook The Royal Throne’
The most skilled songwriters in the strictest, or purest, sense, Nottingham-based three-piece Lords provide the most accessible track of these four, however fractured their rhythms may be. If you imagine Make Believe enjoying a leisurely car ride through some Southern State backwater, only for them to be carjacked by some gnarly banjo-toting bluegrass rogues, forced to drop their pants and smuggle narcotic-stuffed harmonicas over the border an hour’s ride away using nothing but their lower intestines and powers of persuasion, then you’re absolutely nowhere near the wicked genius of this. Nope, not one bit. I just liked the idea of Kinsella and co getting royally fucked over by some old codgers down Alabama way. Lords’ debut album, This Ain’t A Hate Thing, It’s A Love Thing, is out in April. Buy this, buy that, rock out in a thoroughly bizarre manner with your living room curtains wide open. Actually, draw them – the council might be spying.
‘On The Pleasure Of Hating’
There was a time when friends of mine would laugh at Hey Colossus, at their mighty but kinda comedic riffs and hardcore screaming. On hearing this the same friends would shit themselves, shit themselves again, cry a single tear and make for the nearest off license to drink themselves into a night’s rest inside the skip two rights and a left away. Hey Colossus, 2006, do indeed live up to their mighty name: this is a triumphant closer, as blisteringly loud as Todd’s opener but also every bit as brilliantly structured as Lords’ offering. It earns itself a YEEESSSSS from the very bottom of the gut. And a belch for measure.
That’s it, four bands, truly monstrous, oooh a court summons. Bye.
7Mike Diver's Score