Those crazy kids from Tennessee are back! With their second album! Why all the exclamation marks?! Why, because that’s the kind of effect this lot has on you! But what’s this – they’ve expanded their sonic palette? Oh. But we’ll get to that later; all you need to know right now is that their debut was pretty much the most furious record of 2006 (outside Genghis Tron and Converge, like). Not just that, but it managed to balance the angst with a sense of melody and exuberance not seen since I Get Wet.
What was most exciting about this record was the news that, like their beloved Bad Brains, some of the songs off this record have been Banned in D.C. (and the rest of America). ‘Threats of violence and murder’ abound, apparently, and I wonder what’s been so wholesome about Slayer these last two decades of major labeldom. It has to be said, there is a new air of menace to Jemina’s vocals, those super-pop melodies snarled and spat out while she meditates on knifing classmates. It’s all about as serious as prime Misfits, and just as anthemic at times (‘Zombie Graveyard Party’ suggests this isn’t an accident).
The music varies between really fast and slightly less fast, with nothing as close to a ballad as ‘October, First Account’ off the debut. But within that super-tight remit of fuzz and fury is a micro-managed sense of dynamics. While the band doesn’t paint with the broad brush of the tired quiet-loud scene, this loud-loud aesthetic carries enough variety to prevent the record from flagging over its fittingly brief life. Over these fifteen songs, two are over the three minute mark, but the musical shapes range from Donnas-on-PCP pop rock to demonic thrash, with that Ramones/Misfits sense of the fifties and early sixties looming large throughout.