They talk shit. They wear insect suits. Their songs rarely break the minute marker. You can’t understand their lyrics. They sell make-up compacts at their shows. Yet, the Locust has created a label (Three One G), sold 25,000 copies of their self-titled full-length (multi-platinum status by indie standards), and resurrected legions of rabid fans (and even more haters) across the country. But why?
With The Locust and Flight of the Wounded Locust, the four-piece cross-pollinated Moog synths with grindcore violence to arrive at a sound that corroded punk rock from the inside out as their illustrious stage show began to gather circles of indie followers. Now, with an inflated studio budget that’s resulted in production infinitely better than before and the backing of Epitaph Records, the Locust have accelerated their sound to a point where theatrics, shit-talking, and costumes take a backseat.
With Plague Soundscapes, the Locust expand and explode their Moog-riddled grindcore past with an album that finds Joseph Karam’s synths in the same sights as the noise puked up from their standard bass/drum/guitar ensemble. The indiscernible vocals smother Plague Soundscapes as drums misfire at machinegun pace while synths suffocate you beneath a wall of ear-rotting noise. But, despite their lyrics being moot and their sound utterly incoherent, Plague Soundscapes says much more than just about every other release this year.
The Locust recall a time when punk was more than just a catchphrase splattered across a t-shirt, yet speed it into a sadistic and vicious future that breeds with noise, synths and sarcasm. But, just as all challenging artistic means should be measured by, the Locust either completely repel and repulse their audience or elates them into a euphoria where bones break and music murders. There’s simply no middle ground—mostly because the Locust have detonated it to bits of jagged shrapnel.
But as indecipherable as their sound is and as their lyrics are surrealist mishmashes of words (“Puppet predator / Mannequin breadwinner / Planting seeds / On bed sheets” is screamed on “File Under ‘Soft Core Seizures’”), the Locust claims to have fabricated a sound that works just as our society does: without a moment to think, lightning fast and unable to blink. Whether or not there is a sociopolitical message underneath Plague Soundscapes’ punk-noise brain bruising is simply beside the point: the Locust’s music fires faster than synapses and aims to rid our collective brains of all the corrupt, diseased litter we are forced to swallow day in and day out.
Just listen to “Priest With the Sexual Transmitted Diseases Get out of My Bed” and its audio armageddon of grinding noise, sassy screams and punk freak outs. Yeah, the album’s 21 minutes rarely deviate from this formula in its 23 tracks, but this is sound accelerated so far past the radio-rock world of today that Plague Soundscapes’ noise-induced ear lashings actually feel good.