Fury Unfettered: A Review of Buckshot Facelift’s Living Ghosts of the North Shore

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In 1995, a young environmental activist from Portland, Oregon was visiting her social worker cousin in New York. After a day of taking in the sights and smells of New York City, she decided to attend a genuine NYHC show and stumbled into a small, seedy venue where Sick of It All were tearing through a rambunctious set. During a rowdy pit-stomper, she happened to lock eyes with a mohawked, tattoo young punk bedecked in a tattered denim vest emblazoned with a bold anarchy logo across the room. Something feral and fleeting in his eyes set her heart ablaze, and she brazenly crossed the pit and offered him a club soda. The two hit it off and spent all night drifting through Central Park, swapping stories of social progress and political ideologies. The two’s hearts became inextricably intertwined as the sun rose, and after a brief and torrid few months of dating, they signed a marriage contract in front of the Justice of the Peace.

The young bride purchased an older Brownstone along the North Shore using an inheritance earned from civil rights litigation. The two DIYers quickly set to work restoring their older home, planting a small vegetable patch and installing rainwater collectors. The vibrant pair attracted the attention of their neighbors, a slightly older couple seeking cooler climes than sunny Florida, and a pair of pretentious art school dropouts from the Bronx. The three couples grew close, and when the young environmentalist grew pregnant, the other couples, along with their children, vowed to be the proverbial village to help rear the child. In December of the same year, the environmentalist and anarchist pair delivered a shrieking, spirited child into the world of men.

The boy grew in spirit and fervor as the years marched on. From his volatile father, in jail for public disturbance and civil disobedience as often as he was free, he learned passion and an unyielding sense to see problems fixed by any means necessary. His budding temper and rash decisions were thankfully tempered by his mother’s gentle but firm steadfastness and resolute mindset. Years of growing up next to the children of artists and death metal veterans gave him a taste and appreciation for both the posh and the obscene. He delighted in the intellectual and dabbled in the profane, melding both within his ego and perpetually staying ahead or behind of cultural expectations.

The young man continued to mature and absorb bits and pieces of the prevailing zeitgeist, adapting what fit and discarding what didn’t until the dawn of hisown manhood and independence approached. Then, in the fall of 2012, the single most important creative impetus of his life loomed up from the Atlantic. As Superstorm Sandy plodded its deadly path toward the East Coast, the young man’s family and neighbors all evacuated. But the young man, in a foolhardy act of youthful defiance, ignored his mother’s urgent pleading and willfully stayed home to see the ominous specter of devastation firsthand. The hurricane came, and the young man greeted it with adolescent hubris. Lightning split the tar-black sky and danced provocatively across the anvil clouds. Thunder roared and pummeled the usual serenity of the coastal environ. Nature raged, but the boy’s heart retaliated with equal emotive force. As the deafening cacophony of mother nature’s fury resounded all across the eastern seaboard, the young man stood tall. His house collapsed. The seas roared. The towering waves crashed and rebounded. Yet, the young man maintained his vigil through the night. When his parents returned to survey the devastation, they found the man poised amongst the carnage of twisted beams and snared fabric, furiously scribbling lyrics into a tarnished notebook.

I’d like to believe that the above exposition is the genesis of Buckshot Facelift’s devastating career and that Hurricane Sandy is the baleful muse that maddens and drives frontman Will Smith. The fury and devastation of Mother Nature provide the perfect backdrop for unfettered wrath and unadulterated chaos of this caliber. As the band themselves explain, “Buckshot Facelift. The splendors of earthly indulgence to the depths of human depravity. The wine, feces, women and cripples that make our days. The love, the violence, the regrets and the endless flaking dreams. The Grindcore of dying, vane American gods. We fight, we bleed, we work, we die.” However, the origins of the death metal and hardcore outfit is a bit different than my flight of fancy, albeit no less interesting. Formed in 2004 by scene workhouse and mouthpiece of Armageddon, Buckshot Facelift have been working tirelessly to cement themselves as the preeminent force in a crowded pool of vitriolic hardcore and metal acts. After recording a 2005 demo in an attic, the band has consistently marched to the beat of their own war drums, eschewing the norm and striking a singularly interesting path.

Blending the dis886724_635051783211822_638486758_oparate elements of grindcore, crust, D-beat, death metal, and progressive rock in a Gorguts-shaped industrial food processor before wrapping the mélange in a distinctly hardcore-flavored package, Buckshot Facelift have unleashed another testament to the human endeavor and man’s unrelenting fight against the primordial in the form of Living Ghosts of the North Shore. The band counts members of moody doom act Grey Skies Fallen, evocative acoustic group The Back of My Face, grindy noise mongers Spermwerm, and vigorous hardcore unit Thirsty! amongst their ranks, in addition to the aforementioned Will Smith, the imposing vocal chords behind the indefatigable fan favorites Artificial Brain. Buckshot Facelift most certainly wears all of the influences on its sleeves, but when you pierce the veil and dig a little deeper beneath the tumult, you’ll find this band is greater than the sum of its parts.1921024_697637580286575_293442418_o

Ricocheting between blistering D-beats and unhinged, angular riffs that bounce and collapse under unconventional time signatures and pulsing blastbeats, the band batters you with wave after wave of devastating and dissonant death metal with a delectable dab of hardcore. No two songs on this release sound the same. “Living Ghosts of the North Shore” opens with a tempest of raging vocals from the different members of the band and proceeds to barrage you with chaotic riffs and swirling drum fills. The Artificial Brain-esque assault continues on the subsequent tracks, but things definitely slow down to a lumbering brawl on “15,000 Missing” that channels the early assault of Gojira. However, the band is not content to rest and stampedes through blistering sprints of pure crusty deathgrind on “Slithering Stallion” and “Colossal Meat Smorgasbord.” Aside from the oddly idyllic ambient piece “Sacrificial Specimen”, the band bludgeons you with every single track, and they do so with remarkable acumen and diversity, like a pit brawler raised on the streets and armed with a deadly assortment of makeshift weaponry. Every track stands out amidst the rubble and ruin.

In fact, the strength of each individual track is so great that the stark contrast between the heaviness and the sublime on “Sacrificial Specimen” becomes all the more problematic. On a much longer album, a track like this would make much more sense, providing a much needed respite from the onslaught. But on a seven song release with two tracks right around the 1:00 mark, it seems strange to include this sort of song. However, if the length and a peaceful instrumental track are my only complaints with an otherwise stellar and furious releae, then surely Will Smith and company are doing something right.

NO FLUSH

Make sure to like the band on Facebook. Preorder Living Ghosts… on Bandcamp. You can also download some of the older releases for free here.

(Photos VIA, VIA, and VIA)

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    • Death

      Darn it, you were faster than me.

      • I knew it would be a race as soon as I saw his name

        • I bet he’s had that “Michael Bolton” conversation a time or two in his life.

          • Stockhausen

            Why does he just go by William? Or Bill?

          • WHY SHOULD I CHANGE MY NAME, HE’S THE ONE THAT SUCKS.

          • Stockhausen

            I love that.

          • KJM

            And it’s die motherfucker die motherfucker still fool

  • That intro. You, sir, are the best.

  • Tyree

    Holy fuck! this was an incredible read. This is my favorite write up from you Dubby.

    I’ve been meaning to listen to this and this just gave me a definite damn reason why I must get on it.

    • Edward Meehan

      I read it at work, drove to this thing, and I agree 100%. I have so much to listen to but this sounds short so that makes it easier.

  • Reading this made my day. Fucking phenomenal.

  • Tyree

    Dose any one else get a Cephalic Carnage (Early) vibe from these two songs? More so in “Living Ghosts of the North Shore”.

    • Stockhausen

      I could see that. Anomalies and earlier, although Anomalies was all over the place.

      • Tyree

        Anomalies was indeed all over the place and this kind of is too from the two songs I’ve heard. The production is almost the identical to Anomalies as well. Especially the drums.

        • Howard Dean

          Anomalies is my favorite.

          • Tyree

            It’s the first album I heard by them. I played the hell out of that cd my sophmore year in high school. Good times!

        • Stockhausen

          Totally agree on the production. I’ve only gotten to listen to one song from having to teach today, but I’m going to hit that other one as soon as I’m home.

          …then maybe listen to Anomalies.

          • Tyree

            That’s not a bad idea! I have not listened to all of Anomalies in years probably.

  • Stockhausen

    Long shall the day be remembered, the day in which ideals soared, love bloomed, and Mother Nature raged, yet all bent and knelt in service at the feet of one called W. Verily, the forces kissed his ring, that ring called Prosus, before entwining through our very dimension to inform our foolish hearts that for which we gasp, crying out ever anguished as we wallow in filth, shrieking for an album that, like, seriously rules, like this one, man.

  • W.

    Greetings loved ones. I just arrived at my hotel in Abilene. Thank you for all the kind words!

    • Stockhausen

      We suck!

      • Tyree

        We’re Scum!

  • Joe

    1.5/5 after such a great review?!?! I’m confused

    • Our reviews system is a little weird. The fewer the flushes the more we like it.

    • W.

      It’s a reverse rating system.

  • JWG

    I’m not sure whether it’s worse that I read this initially as “Furry Unfettered” … or that I just Googled that to see if I could make a joke about its existence (or lack thereof) as a website.

    • W.

      Well, what did you find out?

      • JWG

        …That, in spite of no such website occurring, I’m probably now on a watch-list for CSIRC (see: your NSA, but with poutine on the cafeteria menu).

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    Great read, W. Awesome introduction and review.

    • W.

      Thank you, Nipple.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Agreed, excellent word-making and assembling-in-the-right-order skills.

        • W.

          That’s even more meaningful coming from a robot.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            I’m a cybernetic organism, living tissue over metal endoskeleton.

  • Fred Wurst

    A+ to everything about this post

    • W.

      Thanks, Fred. Appreciate it.

  • pïgchop™

    I know this has nothing to do with the article (sorry) but it is a…ummmm facelift of sorts with the result being an improvement! Here is the cover of the upcoming slipknot (sorry) album cover:

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan

      I love it. I’ve never heard anyone call them Shitflop and I’m amazed that hasn’t been used before. 111/10

    • IronLawnmower

      I was going to see them for the craic with my mates but the tickets are like £60 and frankly that’s just not on.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      “Haaaaayyyy boys…”

  • D. Lee

    excellent read, now back to Vertikal

    • W.

      Vertikal AOTY 2013

      • D. Lee

        indeed, I intend to linger on albums I really enjoy, hell, I’m still hyping the great misdirect on a lot of forums (riff of the week foreshadowing in the works)

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    i dig the concept of social workers and helping others in disasters—but those causes have been taken over by pro rockefeller forces—to attempt to force totalitarianism on the earth

    in the name of “justifiable environmentalism”–and “political correctness”

    —-

    agenda 21 bans citizens from donating items to charity

    non sexy global reality show sex scandal/metaphysical defamement–of u.s presidential power—
    in the name of the beginning of 911
    ————

    watch/listen to all 3 at once
    http://youtu.be/m_NholHANoY

    http://youtu.be/2QTPVe6-Pso

    http://youtu.be/r30Ij3anRvw

    • CyberneticOrganism

      u crazy lol

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Pictured: Buckshot Facelift’s frontman

  • IronLawnmower

    Normally I’d pass over the realms of grind because my ears are soft and malleable. This review has convinced me to dip my toes into the ocean of pure hate and spastic anger. Let’s hope it doesn’t end up like last time. (I ended up with a really severe migraine and was bedridden for half an hour)

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Sure you weren’t just slamming your head against a wall? I get that confused with listening to grind also.

      • IronLawnmower

        I think my headphones were doing that part for me. Pro-tip:Don’t listen to grind on headphones if you like being able to think.

  • Connor Miller

    This EP really surprised me. Very diverse and well written.

    • W.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!