Here’s a tip. If ever you want to put into words just how end-of-the-pier extreme a sound is, ask yourself this question: what would your parents/grandparents/ascendants of any sort say? Representing, as they tend to, everything that is naff, embarrassing, and downright silly about former generations, that strange clan of “older people” can make great gauges when deciding just how far a genre has progressed/devolved. It also helps that they find anything long-haired and loud genuinely frightening.
Notice, though, my use of the word “devolved”. Here’s where Part Chimp hit an odd conundrum: with their third full-length, they’re as progressive, crazed and downright scary an act as you’re likely to come across. But they’ve done it by stripping everything down to a bare-bones, caveman type of existence: ferocious, devious, and raw. With, it has to be said, astonishing results.
There’s a moment (I’m nearly certain it’s in “Tomorrow Midnite”, but with these endearingly lazy song titles it’s hard to be sure) when everything shuts up for just a moment, leaving a barely in-tune guitar and singer Tim Cedar’s almost petulant whine. “When wind time smiles / We all cry,” he sings. Ungraceful, whiny, a little less than poetic, the song soon opens up into the band’s regular wall of earth-ending noise. And you gasp. You gasp because, for all its potentially perfunctory qualities, “Tomorrow Midnite” is the sound of a band harnessing an extraordinary power. You gasp because in that shining moment, Thriller‘s true magnitude becomes clear, everything that went before and comes after taking on a new and essential shape. And lastly, you gasp because the thing is so goddamn loud.
It doesn’t stop there either. From lead single “Trad” onwards, the monstrous, down-tuned riffs keep coming, with barely a pause to separate them. Sometimes the odd solo is dropped into the mix, as in “Trad”‘s breakdown, and one or two tunes get the slow-and-grungy treatment (“Tomorrow Midnite”, “Today 2”), but mostly Thriller is a fast and deafening mindfuck all the way through. Granted, all these high-volume escapades get a little smothering at times, not to mention more than slightly repetitive, but even then it’s hard not to admire the sheer ballsiness of it all. There are a few acts playing today with similar agendas to deafen their fanbase, but rarely are they carried out with so little ego or crowd-pleasing rhetoric. Put, for instance, Frank Carter’s (he of otherwise mighty Gallows) “look how pissed off I am” shtick beside Part Chimp’s barely decipherable wailing, and I think you’ll agree the former sounds somewhat contrived and weedy. The point remains: Part Chimp don’t need to please, because they really bloody mean it.
When I think about Part Chimp, I think about a monster. Not a fairytale, scare-your-children-to-sleep type of monster, but a big, lumbering, slothful beast, only occasionally leaving his cave to find food and villagers to terrify. He’s an angry monster, sure, and strong, but mostly he just lies around all day letting his power be its latent self. And though Part Chimp have been doing their utterly insane thing for about 15 years now, lolling about at their own leisurely pace, they still feel like a powerful, shocking band. And most importantly, they’ll scare the living shit out of your parents. Job done.
// Notes from the Road
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