Today, Record Swap pits North against South, Agility Against Muscle, Book Learnin’ Against Street Smarts. Striking from polar opposites of the globe, former president W. and Aussie sensation Ted Nü Djent are blazing devastating courses straight for each other, and nothing sacred will remain when the dust settles. The rules are simple. No research. No foreknowledge. No mercy.
W.’s Assignment: Nomeansno – Dance Of The Headless Bourgeoisie (1998)
If I were to liken mine and W.’s music taste to food you would very well see 2 different plates set at the table. Where it’s true that we both need fuel for our bodies, W. would very likely be tucking in on Beluga caviar, truffles and Foie Gras while I’m sitting in the pub chomping on a steak and chips or a dirty pie from the servo. You see, W. likes to have his boundaries pushed and his senses challenged when listening to music. And me? I’m just a simple bloke who’s happiest when he has big riffs and sweet melodies blasting at me from my speakers. The question now was, what did I have in my collection that would pique his interest? In the end I chose Canadian punk cult act, Nomeansno and their album The Dance of The Headless Bourgeoisie. —Ted Nü Djent.
I knew this was going to be an interesting match-up. I’m still fairly young and consider myself a pretty open dude when it comes to music. Ted’s an old cobber who prefers classic jams and still thinks Maiden are churning out legendary albums. Surely he wouldn’t be able to find an album I’d like, right? Would Ted prove himself the rightest mate and give me something as rad as Batushka, or would he just pick some KISS album I hadn’t heard and totally let me down?
Intriguingly, Ted sent me a record totally out of left field. So far out of left field, in fact, that he went out of the arena and into the adjacent park where all the punk kids play. Nomeansno is a name I’ve heard before. In fact, I think an old college buddy burnt a couple songs of theirs onto my computer, but I’ll be damned if I can’t recall what those songs are or describe them in any way aside from being slightly off-kilter punk. As fate would have it, that description is only part of the story.
If you took the weirdest riffs ever played by The Offspring [Side Note: I’m well aware The Offspring aren’t real punk and mostly play a flaccid blend of pop and Americana, but I heard “Hit That” enough on Fuse in high school to notice a similarity], got them in a drinking contest with the bass player from The Presidents of the United States of America and a white-collar Jello Biafra, then recorded them all playing Primus covers, you might get somewhere close to the deranged style of punk played by Nomeansno. This band doesn’t really sound like any of those bands, or even most punk in general, simply because their style varies so much from song to song that it’s difficult to pin them down. The riffs on “Disappear” do sound a bit like those in The Offspring’s “Hit That,” but they’re accompanied by a drunk slamming a piano and a bass together (plus I’m pretty sure these songs were written well before the kids ever decided they weren’t alright). At other moments, the band plays progressive, even jazzy tunes that I’m almost convinced Larry LaLonde and Tom Waits wrote together. “The Story Must Be Told” could easily have been a B-side from Sailing the Seas of Cheese if Les Claypool took himself a little more seriously. On other tracks, like the title track, the band indulges a heavy Lard groove while the singer emits an offensive verbal diarrhea of blowing off heads and needing cash that would make The Dead Kennedys and David Yow proud.
If it sounds like I’m just circling around possible influences rather than getting to the heart of the album, you’re half-right, but not for lack of trying on my end. Simply put, Dance Of The Headless Bourgeoisie is ALL OVER THE PLACE. It’s experimental. It’s vitriolic. It’s heavy at times, comical at times, and weird most of the time. It’s got braindead power chords and absurdly angular drum patterns. It’s as much a musical triumph as it is a test of patience. And it’s long. REALLY LONG. The album clocks in at over 72 minutes and feels even longer because the centerpieces upon which the album is built, the title track and “The World Wasn’t Built in a Die,” are both over eight minutes long and sit smack dab in the middle of the record. Those with short attention spans likely won’t even make it through all the rebellious trial-and-error in the first four tracks just to be slammed with two exceptionally long punk songs. Punk as a genre rarely works when the tracks are long (The Decline not withstanding), and I can just imagine a lot of listeners jumping ship before ever reaching the excellent second half.
All that said, I quite enjoyed this album, even if it isn’t my usual fare. The riffs get far heavier than usual punk power chords, the drums are all over the place in the best possible way, and the vocalist has an engaging narrative style that’s charismatic just as often as it’s grating. All the extra instrumental flair, including pianos, horns, and Lord knows what else, adds just that much extra flavor to make this a surprisingly nuanced and intriguing listen. I’m going to give it to my crook mate Ted here. He picked something outside of my wheelhouse and found me an alum I’ll likely jam when I need a break from metal but still want to rock. — W.
4 out ov 5
Ted’s Assignment: The Amenta – n0n (2008)
At the beginning of this record swap, Ted and I decided to send each other unexpected picks. I asked myself, “Self, what sort of thing would Ted expect from me?” Dissonant death metal, probably. Instead, I dug deep into my collection to find something I don’t usually jam but that would be suitably deranged for him. After parsing through a few possibilities, I settled on Aussies The Amenta. These nasty Aussies play a nasty sort of industrial death metal lightyears away from Ted’s usual tastes, but they do so with a conviction and heart that creates a compelling atmosphere. Plus, there’s a distinctly Australian level of malevolence and perversion that only those born and raised in the prison colony will understand, so I though that Ted might find something to commiserate there. I hope he enjoys. — W.
When I found out that my mission, should I choose to accept it, was nOn by The Amenta I did not know what to expect. I had seen them about 5 years ago supporting Morbid Angel, but I had zero memory of their set. It wasn’t because I was pissed as I (having gotten shit faced the night before seeing The Haunted, did not want to pull a double shift on the booze) put my hand up to be the designated driver. It wasn’t because they sucked either because if they were bad then you’d think I would remember that shit, right? Anyway, I’m ranting here, let’s get on with the review.
The first track, “ON” is a short intro of industrial noises that leads me to think that I’m in for some form of Industrial Metal (the barcode on the album art should have been a dead giveaway); by the time “JUNKY” kicks in those suspicions are confirmed, only the band also seems to have death metal influences too. The song riffs hard and in my mind I’m thinking “W, you magnificent bastard, this is going to be great.” The second track “VERMIN” (also, an album full of one word song titles is one way for a forgetful bastard such as me to have a fighting chance of remembering your song names) continues the riff assault even though I’m starting to notice that in parts the drums are pushed right to the front of the mix. But it is an industrial album after all, and so far the songs are strong enough for it to not be too much of a distraction. After reeling from the aural assault of the first 2 proper tracks from the album, I’m a little bummed to find that “ENTROPY” is just a 1.45 track of industrial noises. I find the placement of this odd as I feel it kinda kills the momentum of the album more than adding anything positive. Any lost momentum, however, is quickly re-established with the chaotic introduction of “SLAVE.” That introduction proves to be a bit anti-climactic though as the song meanders its way through next minute or so until the chorus kicks in demanding me to pay attention again. I have since learned that this track has a guest appearance from Nergal which I didn’t even notice until prepping for this review.
The rest of the album continues along more or less with the same tempo, and to be honest a few tracks started to blend in with one another. I’d start listening to a track then look down to see that I had started listening to the song after without realising. This brings me to what I believe to be n0n’s major fault. While every track on the album is solid, and there are certainly no bad ones, it does lack that one or two tracks with a big hook that will seep into my consciousness making me want to come back for more. I think it’s this fault that will keep The Amenta as the support act for when the bigger bands roll through town rather than becoming the main attraction. NON has made me interested enough to peep the rest of their discography, and any future releases to see if they do have that big hook in them.
3 out ov 5
There you have it. Let it never be said that I am not gracious in defeat. Ted pulled through with a fun record while I just made him even more of a sad dad with my curveball. Ted, you may claim my heart and eat it at your leisure. May it bring you strength for the coming trials. Want to get involved in Record Swap? Email me at email@example.com.