Over 18 years and somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 releases in their discography—most on indie labels that no longer exist—the North Carolina punk legends Antiseen have become a steady presence if not a household name. Combining Ramones-style punk and Motorhead-like hard rock, they have carved out a singularly blazing sound they dubbed, “destructo-rock”, somewhere along the way.
For this, their first studio album in five years, they enlisted fellow Charlotte resident Jamie Hoover as producer. It’s an unlikely choice, since Hoover is best known for his stint with Beatlesque popsters The Spongetones, but he does a fine, mostly unobtrusive job. Never ones for high-falutin’ production techniques anyway, whether it be for budgetary or aesthetic reasons, Antiseen simply sounds better with minimal gloss. Here, the main improvement in sound is the crispness and clarity of the recordingit resembles the sonic punch of one of Motorhead’s more recent major label outings.
Compared to Antiseen’s Jeff Clayton, however, Lemmy is Tony Bennett to Clayton’s Tom Waits. More a shouter than a singer, Clayton’s shredded tin-can vocals chords are nonetheless the driving force behind the band’s energetic performances, and as a lyricist he minces no words. If PC is in his vocabulary, it is from the computer aspect of the abbreviation, not any perceived need for political correctness.
Antiseen’s past classics include the non-pc ode, “Animals, Eat ‘Em”, and, “F**k All Y’all”. There is nothing quite so blunt here, but “Run My World”, is suitably profane, and “Talk Show Trash”, offers up much hilarity in the name of obscenity. The band offers up some interesting nods to their influences with a trio of brilliantly raucous cover songs: The Dave Dudley trucker country anthem, “Six Days on the Road,” which the band rips through Ramones-style, an actual Ramones song, “Commando”, which they do in appropriately menacing fashion, and the obscure Screaming Lord Sutch’s “Smoke & Fire”.
With hard rock, punk, and metal going in increasingly commercial directions and gaining significant airplay in the process, it is hard to imagine a band like Antiseen still exists. It is our good fortune that they do, and their good music that allows them to continue to thrive on the fringes of rock and roll in a place they call Brutalsville.