It’s been eight years since the last Venomous Concept release, the sophomore slump-avoiding Poisoned Apple. The lapse of time between records mostly comes down to the members being spread across a variety of projects. Three out of these cats are central to Napalm Death while the other two while away the hours in the mighty Brutal Truth (or at least did). Anyway, the wait has been worth it as the quintet delivers a record that’s as loud, rude and aggressive as the best stuff of this ilk.
The name is a kind of homage to Poison Idea and the music appropriately has its references to that very act and others along the way. Mostly, though, the band grinds and growls and kicks your fanny pack like we’re all caught in a mosh pit back in 1986 and we’re living like there’s no tomorrow. It’s a relentless toss ‘n’ turn cycle of mayhem (no, not the Norwegian black metal band) from the opening blast of “Rise” to the closing sears of “Burning Fatigue” some time later.
There are hairpin shifts in tempo and mood and key along the way and you can almost get tendonitis playing air band along to numbers such as “Potters Ground”, “Holiday in Switzerland” and a song that may or may not be about Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, “Fucked in Czech Republic”.
Vocalist Kevin Sharp can move his mouth faster than most and growl in a more frightening fashion than your Vietnam vet high school history teacher and he does just that with conviction throughout, adding humor and warmth along the way. (OK, the warmth is more along the lines of a napalm campfire than anything Bing Crosby or Nat “King” Cole’d bring to the party.) Shane Embury and Danny Herrera bring the crusty layers of brutal truth view their full frontal assault of guitar blasts, making the epic (it’s three minutes, yo) “Farm Boy” especially fear inducing as they stare down tempos and rhythms mere mortals would find frightening even when bolstered by nuclear courage.
The true nuclear power here comes from hardcore mainstay Danny Lilker whose mere presence would seem to guarantee a wild ride and does. His splooshy low end lines sound as new and as familiar as you’d hope and when you realize that he’s one of the founding fathers of this kind of business you’ve no choice but to tip your pen in respect. (See also: “Head on a Stick”.)
As nifty as it is to talk about all this music in aggressive language, dressed up in (mixed) military and battle metaphors, let’s not forget the important place that humor plays in all this stuff as numbers such as “Johnny Cheeseburger”, “Pretty on the Inside” and others whir by in less than a minute, recalling the choice days when crossover seemed like the future of heavy music.
In the end, Kick Me Silly isn’t just the title of this album, it’s the way the band operates, making you laugh while pounding sense into the seat of your pants, one hardened blast at a time. More, please.
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