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Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Blood Brothers: This Adultery Is Ripe


1) Rescue; 2) Doctor! Doctor!; 3) The Face In The Embryo; 4) James Brown; 5) Mutiny On The Ark Of The Blood Brothers; 6) Jordan Billie Pets The Wild Horse's Mane; 7) Marooned On Piano Island; 8) This Adultery Is Ripe; 9) Time For Tenderness; 10) Jennifer.

There is a little bit of everything in this brief, explosive debut album by Seattle's Blood Brothers. The laconic running length and the loudness qualify it for "-core" status, be it hardcore, grindcore, emocore, or any other core. The riffs suggest influences that go all the way back to King Crimson at least, touching on post-punk, math-rock, etc., anything that has to do with a non-standard, con­vention-breaking approach to guitar melodies. The lyrics are poorly controlled streams of con­scious, suggesting beatnik stuff, psychedelia, nihilism, and street wisdom. And the «singing» — or, rather, twin vocalizing of Jordan Billie and Johnny Whitney — suggest hardcore punk and extreme metal affiliation at the same time.

The result is a record that, to my ears, can only sound «curious», but curious it is. Maybe the best way to appreciate it is to imagine that it has been written from the viewpoint of a straight-jacketed, stark raving mad, highly aggressive and dangerous asylum patient — not at all difficult, come to think of it, for a record that kicks off with two guys wildly screaming "THEY'RE FUCKING AFTER US! THEY'RE FUCKING AFTER US!.. The Redcoats are coming like a choir of boi­ling lobsters!...". Not mad enough so as not to watch carefully all their time signature changes, or not to have their screams diligently arranged for counterpoints, that is, but still mad enough to infect you with the madness if you give them a chance.

Music-wise, the riffs may start off in classic punk or thrash metal mode, only to splinter and scatter in several different directions within se­conds, more often still preserving the speedy tempos than grinding them down, giving the brain no chance to memorize or latch on to anything. Therefore, do not even begin to look for catchiness, since it is nobody's in­tention to deposit it here. The lack of diversity is also excusable — nobody expects that from a stark raving lunatic, and we only have to thank them for keeping things short, because sitting through fourty minutes of such stuff in a row would probably cause irrepairable and irreversible mental damage. Indivi­dual tracks are hardly worth mentioning, because what good is a particularly nifty riff or bass line if it's here one moment and gone the next, anyway?.. This is really just one big 20-minute suite, the pauses between tracks merely letting you draw your breath.

So what is it that makes This Adultery Is Ripe a worthier representative of «psychopath rock» than its competition? Well, if it is this particular type of synthesis that we are talking about, they do not actually have much competition — being way too concerned about the technical aspects of their playing for a genuine punk outfit, yet way too rude, screamish, and abrasive for an «intel­lectual» band. John Zorn's Naked City and Les Claypool's Primus are well-behaved gentlemen next to these guys. Not that I am implying that this is a plus: there may be a good reason why there seem to be relatively few groups like The Blood Brothers around — if you look at this from another angle, their guitar heroics are actually obscured and diminished by all the endless screa­ming, while their loudness and abrasiveness are hard to appreciate without being propped up by anything even vaguely resembling catchiness.

On the other hand, repeated listenings help — after the first (predictable) gut reaction of what-the-hell-is-this-crap, once you slowly start getting into their act, understanding the complexity and tightness of their playing, and once the endless screaming gradually begins to reveal its own perverse musicality, This Adultery Is Ripe is ready to qualify for «artistic statement», if not ne­cessarily for a sonic masterpiece. Maybe its biggest problem is that the psychopathic act is not altogether convincing — due to a total lack of subtlety. It doesn't really take a whole lot of effort to scream your head off; perhaps, had they thought about adding a touch of suspense to the pro­ceedings, things might have worked out in finer fashion (think Birthday Party or the like). For this reason at least, a bona fide «thumbs up» rating is out of question for me at the moment; but even without subtlety, there is still some intrigue.

Check "This Adultery Is Ripe" (CD) on Amazon
Check "This Adultery Is Ripe" (MP3) on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't expecting you to cover Blood Brothers! This is their only album I haven't got, but my favorite is their swansong, Young Machetes.