BLOOD BROTHERS: MARCH ON ELECTRIC CHILDREN (2002)
1) Birth Skin/Death Leather; 2) Meet Me At The Water Front After The Social; 3) March On Electric Children!; 4) New York Slave; 5) Kiss Of The Octopus; 6) Siamese Gun; 7) Mr. Electric Ocean; 8) Junkyard J. Vs. The Skin Army Girlz/High Fives, LA Hives; 9) American Vultures.
Apparently, this stylistically similar follow-up to Adultery is based around some sort of allegorical «story», probably influenced in equal parts by the local comic book department and listening to way too many schizophrenia-oriented records of the avantgarde persuasion. There is a ʽMr. Electric Oceanʼ who personifies media and exploitation, a ʽSkin Armyʼ consisting of zombified nincompoops, and other equally colorful personages and collectives that are impossible to properly assess without consulting the liner notes, because not even Professor Higgins would be able to decode a single word by simply listening to these «songs».
Musically, the band members themselves insisted that the album was altogether a little more complex than its predecessor, but this is hard to confirm outside of the fact that many songs make better use of the «quiet / loud» alternation this time — for instance, ʽJunkyardʼ and especially ʽSiamese Gunʼ let you fully appreciate the talents of Morgan Henderson on bass (they are not unique, but you do acknowledge that he is quite professional), while ʽMr. Electric Oceanʼ, first time in the band's career, opens with a pop-punk riff that is quite easily and quickly imprintable in one's brains (fortunately, the start of the screaming is delayed until that happens).
Other than these «cosmetic» differences, pretty much nothing can be said about the record that would not also apply to its predecessor — same hyper-energetic, crazyass tempos, same mix of hardcore, math-rock, and thrash-metal elements, same madhouse-style vocals, same moods and attitudes on each single song. The only exception is ʽAmerican Vulturesʼ: apparently, the idea was to include something «different» for the album coda at least, so the band divert themselves by hauling out a piano and gruesomely sodomizing it, which is fairly consistent with the madhouse image — most likely, this is exactly what the patients of a heavy-security asylum would have done with the unfortunate instrument, too. Oddly enough, the chorus to ʽVulturesʼ, screamed out in unison as if the «singers» were all part of some Clockwork Orange universe, is the catchiest thing on the entire record — there is something sadistically seductive about the lines "you're married to the vultures, I don't want to laugh until you're dead".
But on the whole, the flaws here remain the same as the virtues: the addition of «quiet» passages is a welcome move, yet there are still too few of them to save the poor layman's ears from the incessant wall of noise and the never-ending screamo vocals that always obscure, never emphasize the band's technical prowess and instrumental creativity. Only a very select few listeners, possibly with unique peculiarities of their hearing nerve channels, will be able to easily look past this obstacle — I am unable to do that, and, despite acknowledging the musical merits, cannot honestly reward the guys with a thumbs up. At least Adultery had the additional value of a «novelty» project; but turning the «novelty» into a repetitive «formula» is hardly a good idea.
Curiously, the reviewer over at AMG called the album «something you'll find yourself singing over and over again as you plan to throw yourself out a window» — a thoroughly misguided description, the way I see it, since (a) singing even a few songs here just once will, most likely, cause irrepairable damage to your vocal cords, so do at least make sure you have some Strepsils lying around; (b) these guys ain't no Cure or Joy Division, so the only thing you might be planning to throw out the window would be your stereo system — actually, quite an appropriate gesture to commemorate the end of these 24 minutes.
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