The Porcelain Throne: The Locust

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The throne is occupied again, this time with something weird courtesy of W. If you want to see your favorite band here, by all means, hit us up! 

In the heavy metal family tree, grindcore is easily one of the most noxious branches. Stripped of all melody, twisted into chaotic rhythms, injected with a healthy dose of sloppiness, and often bereft of any attachable riffs, grindcore is a demanding subsystem for the perverse and deranged. So what happens when the conventions of grind are defiled and warped with new wave dadaism and aesthetic intent? You end up with The Locust, one of the most unique bands I’ve yet encountered in the world of extreme music.

Formed in 1994 by mastermind/bassist/vocalist Justin Pearson, Bobby Dray, Dylan Scharf, Dave Warshaw, and Dave Astor, the band would eventually cement themselves into a four-piece lineup with a clear artistic intent: to subvert the norms of heavy music and bludgeon listeners with a wall of sound. Their style and personnel have changed over the years, but the band has always maintained their imagery and worked within their own manifesto. From the beginning, The Locust intended their output to be challenging and incomprehensible, straddling the line between art and music. It is meant to be bold, confrontational, and unpalatable. If you press play below, you should struggle and feel challenged; this ideology permeates everything the band has done. This union of politics and music, including a longstanding feud with Clear Channel Communications, only serves to prove the legitimacy of their convictions and christens their artistic revolt.  Join me as we explore the bizarre grindcore/hardcore/powerviolence/noise rock/new wave/synthpop world of The Locust.

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The Locust (1998)

The band’s debut full-length was preceded by two splits and an EP (also titled The Locust), but the band’s signature sound of electronic chaos would really come to the fore on this album. The Locust is one of the band’s last recordings as a five-piece and is characterized by a heavier emphasis on the zany electronics than on the more metallic instruments. Over the course of the album’s twenty tracks, the band toys with atmosphere and synth noises to create an ever-alarming sense of dread and disorientation, as though you’ve just wandered into an 8-bit horror video game with a heavy metal soundtrack. Look no further than the opening of “Moth-Eaten Deer Head” to hear how the band pushes the electronics to the fore in order to craft an unsettling atmosphere for the actual chords to play within. The band’s distinct visual element (characterized by their use of insectile Nylon suits and masks) would only lend itself to the surreal nature of the music. “Backbones of Jackasses” is perhaps the best example of the dual assault of electronics and grind.


Flight of the Wounded Locust EP (2001), Plague Soundscapes (2003), and Follow the Flock, Step in Shit EP (2003)

This period of the band’s career would see them truly cementing the “wall of sound” approach they employed in a live setting. In addition to the elaborate costumes, the band became known for aligning all four instruments (as feasible) at the front of the stage in order to create a unified force of befuddling noise. The music from this time period, now produced by the permanent line-up of Pearson, Bray, Karam, and Serbian, echoed the live setting; each song featured an unrepentant hurricane of dizzying riffs, d-beats, and electronic bloops and bleeps swirling in a nauseating maelstrom of shattered carapaces and broken ideologies. Songs feature truly brilliant moments, but these nuggets tend to appear as little more than rats scrambling about in the walls, forcing listeners to really dig beneath the layers of chaotic sheet-rock to find the buried treasure. “The Half-Eaten Sausage Would Like to See You in His Office” is a perfect example of this; there are some intriguing skronky riffs in this song that sound as though the band is bending space-time, but on first listen, you might miss them beneath the screaming and synth waves. If the song titles are anything to judge by, that steep learning curve appears to be entirely intentional.

I’ve selected “Live from the Russian Compound” to show what the band was doing on Plague Soundscapes, but check out “This Is Radio Surgery” and the title track of Follow the Flock, Step in Shit.


Safety Second, Body Last EP (2005) and New Erections (2007)

The next few years for the band would see them dabbling in even more experimentalism before embracing a more straightforward powerviolence approach. Safety Second, Body Last was actually just one long song split into two halves. The two portions flow into each like bubbling magma belched forth from the gullet of a digital subterranean demon, the trademark wall of sound and blast-meets-electronics disarray present and cranked as high as possible. Interestingly, the band would actually tone down a bit for their next full-length, shifting focus to more concrete song structures, sharper riffs, and menacing atmosphere. The end product is a more song-oriented nightmare landscape characterized by a distinctly foreboding alien skyline. “AOTKPTA” is a perfect example of the new approach; the song progress naturally and actually employs concrete riffs and rhythms that drive the music between the electronic interludes. The varied vocal approach (mostly unheard on previous releases) is an added bonus. Each individual track is a unique and profane column upon which the entire solid structure is grounded, and every song serves to make this the heaviest of The Locust’s albums. This is perhaps my favorite release from the band, and it shows that they have the chops to harness all the schizophrenic energy into some truly memorable and captivating songs. Check out “The Unwilling… Led by the Unqualified… Doing the Unnecessary… for the Ungrateful” below.


The Peel Sessions (2010)

The Locust’s most recent release is sadly their least memorable. Recorded in 2001 for John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show, it features re-recorded versions of older songs. There isn’t really anything memorable here aside from nostalgia, but if you’re interested, check out “Moth-Eaten Deer Head” below.

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Sadly, The Locust have been quiet for quite some time now, presumably because Justin Pearson has been busy with wild noise rockers Retox. Still, this band remains an important footnote in the history of weird extreme music and, on a personal note, reminds me of my early days of stepping foot into the outer limits. Here’s to hoping they release new stuff soon and keep pushing the boundaries of art and music.

Thank you YourLogicIsFlushed for indulging my weird tatses! As always, check The Official Porcelain Throne Guidelines and help me fill up the throne!

(Photos VIA and VIA)

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  • Louis Quatorze

    Hey, do you know about those guys?
    https://hermannschaft.bandcamp.com/releases

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      I’m not, but this is pretty interesting!

      • Louis Quatorze

        If I’m well informed, theere are members of Drowned and Essenz involved in this one. I really liked it so I had to share it with you, but great articlee btw 😉

        • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

          Thank you! New here?

          • Louis Quatorze

            I like to read this blog alot but I am only commenting here on casual occasions because I dont allways get those memes and jokes since

            I am a primitive german guy with no native english ecucation.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

            I can understand you very well! Thanks for reading.

          • Welcome to the Toilet!

            GL

          • KJM

            Lots of people here don’t get the US/UK centric humor posts(some do). It’s all good.

          • Welcome!!! 🙂

          • CyberneticOrganism

            WELCOME TO THE TOILET

            The memes are pointless. Only the metal is real.

          • welcome Louis! dat link you provided is a good.

          • Louis Quatorze

            Thank you guys for the warm welcome. Dankeschön und Prost 😉

  • Great writeup Dubs. It feels necessary to share another one of Justin Pearson’s greatest hits: his appearance on Jerry Springer.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY2w9lSZvEI

    • CT-12

      dafuq….?

      • Yeah, no idea why he did this. It’s pretty lulzy though.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Acting credit, probably.

        • Malted Hate

          “At one point in 1998, Scott Beiben, the owner of the record label Bloodlink, called up The Jerry Springer Show and orchestrated a hoax[8] for Pearson to appear on the show as a “rock-star slut.” Pearson wore a T-shirt for The Locust during the appearance, which culminated in a kiss with Beiben.[6] Pearson later stated “I was beat up during a commercial break by one of the ‘security guards’ pretty bad for blowing snot on the carpet.”
          From Wikipedia

    • Bozamole Jim

      I… huh.

      Time to nuke everything.

    • Latin América have a lot of shows like that.

      And they really make shine the “marginal culture”.

      **FLUSH**

      • KJM

        These shows(Jerry Springer, Maury) are on during the weekday mornings and early afternoons, clearly aimed at the unemployed or stay-at-home parents. They play up to horrible stereotypes about the poor/unemployed. All the Caucasians are “trailer park trash”, and all the people of Color are “project/hood rats”.

        • Fucking awful.

        • more beer

          I was friends with this chick who was on Jerry Springer. She was incredibly hot but bat shit fucking crazy. I guess no one can have it all.

  • KJM

    I saw The Locust in 2005 opening for Fantomas with no idea what to expect. OUCH. The only thing I could compare them to at the time was Boredoms, another influential act in that style that just wasn’t my thing at all.

    • Kevin Nash & Friends

      I like the description so I’m going to give these tracks a listen.

      • KJM

        Screaming evil noise.

        • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

          That’s not an inaccurate description.

          • KJM

            I meant that in a good way.

  • Mother Shabubu 4

    I miss the Locust. Hopefully they don’t wait 17 years for another album.

    That’s a locust joke.

  • Bozamole Jim

    New Erections >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Great write-up! The Locust was the first metal show I ever saw (with Despised Icon), and I’ve loved them ever since.

  • D. Lee

    Don’t get caught wearing Retox shirts around here or you might be labeled a posEUr

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      HA!

    • I don’t own a shirt but I like the band. I’m not posin’ I’m flexxin’.

    • EsusMoose

      Unless you know the guys, bought them dinner and brought them to the movies. You can totally wear a Retox shirt then (also remember to study their family tree and history, don’t want to forget that great aunt Lisa stubbed her toe at age 5 due to a misplaced iron because if you do you’re a fucking poseur)

  • D. Lee

    Also great article, I still have yet to fully dive in to the locust but being a fan of retox, and this article will surely jump start that

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      The Locust are like Retox on crack.

  • Void Dweller

    Remember the name, that’s about it.

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      It’s not something I’d expect you to enjoy.

      • Void Dweller

        Didn’t say enjoy doc, just remember. I knew questionable people that were into said band.

        • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

          You’re right. I just think you’d probably have about the same reaction to this as Psyopus, which is fine 😉

          • Void Dweller

            Probably. I don’t remember what The Locust even sounds like.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

            KJM’s “Screaming evil noise.” is pretty accurate, but not the blasphemous kind of screaming and not the lo-fi kind of noise.

          • Void Dweller

            Listening to a track now. Wow.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

            Haha

  • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

    • Kevin Nash & Friends

      This guy gets it.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    This article and The Locust occupy the same point on the quality-meter.

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      Thanks?

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Most certainly.

        • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

          ^_^

  • Kevin Nash & Friends

    Off topic but my Deep Dream album covers finished up. Here’s the best of them and my opinions on them:

    “You did that. You took science and created an abomination. Are you happy? Are you proud of what you’ve done. I think you should be locked up for this.”

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Joe Cocker Spaniel | Live at Woofstock

      • Kevin Nash & Friends

        I was thinking that when it came out.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          If EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE hasn’t already started a series of awkward dog videos called Woofstock, they should.

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            I’d love that.

  • These guys were definitely weird but they had a cult following. Still think Moth Eaten Deer Head is an awesome song.

  • The Fish Boz

    I’ve been waiting for this to actually check out the band. Good stuff, Wes. I can’t jam it all right now but I gave each of the embedded tracks a go.

    I didn’t know a dude from Retox was originally in The Locust. Small world.

  • Poseur Diposeur

    This is sweet, I had kind of forgotten about this band. I am still reminded of my teenage years as a shrieky noise music fan whenever I throw on my ancient, ratty Daughters! t shirt

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      This noise was a good gateway for me.

  • Uh… I just will respect this.To much wacky for me. Thanks dubz!

    • KJM

      That’s what I thought when I saw The Locust. Then again, I was there to see Fantomas.

  • Bitter (Tyree) Debra
    • IronLawnmower

      Jesus did that site crawl out of 1998

      • i can teach a person the proper usage of smooth image resizing in like 10 nanoseconds.

        • IronLawnmower

          go on…

    • Only HTML design from 1995 is real.

      Also, props to pull all that information.

  • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

    Meh/10. sry dubs, the beard does not wag with this

  • JamesGrimm

    love them and all the side acts assosiated.

  • IronLawnmower

    I feel the same way about this band as I do about Psyopus

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      Their styles are not dissimilar.

      • Lacertilinger

        A little more electro on the Locust side though right?

        • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

          Indeed.

  • JamesGrimm
  • Hmmm, interesting little treasure trove here, W. I think I like the earlier electronics-heavy stuff better. It’s good that the songs are short; too much of this might give me lupus.

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      It definitely becomes a bit overwhelming when you listen to their whole discography.

  • Name

    There was an interview a while ago Justin Pearson did and he said The Locust aren’t doing anything beause one specific member doesn’t want to or is busy or something. Dunno which one.

    • Lacertilinger

      Welcome!
      I like your name..

      • Suck Me While I Poo

        *Cues the Goo Goo Dolls song*

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      Interesting. Let’s email-bomb that one member.

  • Suck Me While I Poo

    Been ages since I’ve heard these guys, but damn good pick!

  • Guppusmaximus

    I prefer my grind with a lot more crust… just sayin:)

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      Plenty do! This is certainly on the weirder end of the spectrum, often more noise than anything.

      • Guppusmaximus

        Actually, I’m fairly picky in terms of Grind as I really only like the crusty punk / Hardcore kind with plenty of D-Beats and screaming not just the guttural growling. But, I hear what you are sayin…