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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Sludge: 30,000 Monkies - "Somewhere Over The Painbow"

So Halloween is here. Actually, no... Halloween celebrations are here in the form of pumpkin beers and girls flying their true slut colors. It's the same shit every year. Dorothy goes knees-to-the-sky for some douche in a pimp outfit while your best friend spends Sunday morning posting embarrassing pictures of you in a torn costume and smeared mascara. Your kid's carved pumpkin somehow made it into the street and he's asking if Old Man Thompson is really gonna put staples in the sweets.

Well, perhaps timing is everything. Belgium's 30,000 Monkies chose this October to release their second album, Somewhere Over The Painbow. Both the band's name and the album's title scream Wizard of Oz, but otherwise these four tracks are as far as one could get from the wondrous colors and delightful strangers of the perennial fall classic. The weird, violent experimentations won't make your child's holiday special. In fact, I'll issue the warning now that you listen with headphones and ask your folks to babysit. Like shards of glass and an open bottle o' grain alcohol, these sounds have no place where children live.

If you're prone to nausea, avoid the jagged opener, Imerial Staches. The cavernous drums give way to hollow rhythms, heavily punctuated with fret descent. The screams are hardly surprising, but the balance of brevity with the brutality bounces with a stop-start bonus that'll leave you nodding in frantic "Yessir!" fashion. Bottom line, it's two minutes of fiery, hellish sludge-noise that leaves no wiggle room.

Follow that with spacey panning and uncoiled aggression on Amazones, odd and thick with flowing bass-led passages of meet-me-at-the-flagpole beatings. There's something technologically otherworldly snarling between the passages as choppy guitars hover with uncertainty. All kinds of lurches, lunges, churns, and spewings coat any expectations until the pace lifts on stoner-sludge passages. A staggering drunk finally collapses, but not before collecting loose-trash treasures all the way home.

Czarring pulls no punches and never masks the malice. Puzzling as the track is, you're never confused by its intentions. Slow-swelling evil draws us down a path coated with fuzz and cartoonish disdain. The vocals are clearer here, a highlight amid the odd chants that assist in clouding comparisons to other bands. A brief dance with wood shop guitars is interrupted by eerie Speak & Spell static and handclaps from hell's cheerleaders. With every quirk comes a thick dose of discomfort.

It would seem the disc's first three tracks offered enough jarring experimentation to allow the album's closer to breathe Transylvanian elements into ticks and belches. Batteram moans prophetically under spooky keys and totally fuckin' weird lyrics. The closest comparisons one might make to this doom carnival would be Ghost B.C.'s Secular Haze or or more likely Marilyn Manson's Shitty Chicken Gang Bang. Just three minutes in, however, we again meet gargantuan sludge-doom via drums and riffs in sync. The pendulum sways with abandon, the vocal is primal pain, and scratchy guitars may as well stab you with Lee Ranaldo's screwdriver. As a whole, the track is a steady stream of buzzing hornets and sluggish pauses, hollow pockets peppered between surges and screeches. The track is soaked in reverb, you're soaked in blood and sweat. As for those disembodied screams... Well, they weren't purchased at Halloween City.

Before the grinding repetitive troubles leave you cutting your own face and grinning with insanity, wait for the fever to pass. Somewhere Over The Painbow is devilishly harsh and addictive. If the band put on a mask, they certainly never bothered taking it off. Don't get in the van. He doesn't have a puppy, and candy doesn't go well with a side of calculated torture. The previous six paragraphs will tell you nothing about this band or this release. Approach with caution and tuck a key under your knuckles, guy. These sludge experiments are testing you as much as the sounds.

For fans of: Sepultura, Evil Superstars, Melvins
Pair with: Evil Dead Red, AleSmith Brewing Company

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