The Love Below - Every Tongue Shall Caress
Wow, this threw me for a loop on the first time around. There's nothing ordinary or even remotely clichéd about The Love Below. I was half expecting something along the veins of Frightener, Nails or Full Of Hell (not that any of those bands are clichéd in any way), knowing the label's penchant for that whole area of dark and sludgy hardcore, but instead I'm completely blindsided by possibly the most unhinged, on-the-verge-of-flippin'-the-fuck-out kind of music I've heard in a long time. Basically this is heavy and, at times, fast hardcore punkrock, with a sort of frenzied, chaotic, noisy attitude that I'm instantly drawn to. All the songs are short, only a couple of them are more than three minutes long, so we are in no danger of getting bored here. Musically TLB sounds a bit like a mix of The Stooges, early Black Flag, the slower side of Motörhead, some traces of G.I.S.M. and a bit of Poison Idea. Sort of... We get awesome super-catchy punkrock riffs; some really cool straight up hardcore based on middle-to-high tempos; lots of audible, heavy rocking basslines; some heavy, almost metallic, breakdowns and tons and tons of rocking hooks.
But what truly sets these guys apart, except for a knack for writing short, instantly memorable songs, are the vocals of Jerry Wayne Woolbright Jr. (yup, that's apparently his name). I can't remember when I last heard someone so totally out there, someone so completely off the rails in his vocal delivery. To simply state that he screams is to do him injustice. He shrieks and howls - somewhere in the middle to upper register, often to the point where his voice cracks - almost seemingly out of control and yet does so with both conviction and clarity. How his voicebox is intact is beyond me. Lyrically there is some truly pissed-off, caustic shit going on here, but much of it written in a non-linear sort of ambiguous way, while hinting at a certain social and moral pathos that is interesting. But even though the lyrics, more often than not, are open to interpretation (which is fine by me), there's also the directness of songs like Nazi Uniform with it's snarling rage against police-brutality and abuse of authority ("You have the right to remain paranoid and afraid") and disdain of religion in Holy Dose ("Overdose on the love of God, choke on the light that shines so bright") to counteract the vagueness. Overall this is a great punkrock/hardcore album - and an outstanding full length debut - with lots of good points to draw you back for further spins. Get their previous releases at their bandcamp site here.