Sunday, October 03, 2004

WOLF EYES – Burned Mind CD
Grab yer jackboots, trenchcoat and serial-killer books, the Industrial Revolution/Revival is on! Or at least you’d be forgiven for thinking so, given the hoopla surrounding the release of Michigan’s Wolf Eyes' debut for Sub Pop. When I was working in a music store about 3 ½ years back, we used to get all kinds of obscure nonsense coming in from overseas distributors every week, amongst it all a fair range of titles on the Load and Troubleman labels. Outside of a few items which took my fancy, namely Brainbombs reissues, Lightning Bolt and the like, it mostly passed me by without me noticing. One day whilst working the late shift on a Friday I decided to spin a few platters by the curiously-named Wolf Eyes. I think I got through approximately 30 seconds each of the first few songs and turned them off, promptly etching it in my mind to strike Wolf Eyes on the board as an all-hype/no-substance/no-talent outfit I’ll happily forget about for the rest of my life.

Then last year I found myself in the position of trading a stack of CDs/LPs with Ron Lessard at RRR outta Massechusetts and, due to the good words a friend was whispering in my ear regarding the “better” recordings of WE, I decided to take a punt and got myself a copy of their Dread LP from 2001. It took me by surprise. Old-school industrial misanthropy like it was extracted from the tired bowels of Boyd Rice or Genesis P-Orridge, Dread, much like a lot of the nudge-nudge-wink-wink hardcore that comes out these days, played as being part sincerity and most parts as an almost ironic homage to the “glory days” of early ‘80s noise, when the men were men, the hate pure and the Manson references aplenty. I dug it a lot, as if it was an update for the post-Black Flag/Swans generation, and thus hailed Wolf Eyes as a band at least worthy of a nod.

Now comes this, Sub Pop’s most willfully “uncommercial” release since whenever, but at least Wolf Eyes are doing better than their ex-band mate, Andrew W.K., a guy whose current profile (and sales status, I bet) is lower than a snake’s belly. Funnily enough, he toured here early last year and you literally couldn’t give the tickets away: I was offered a handful to give to friends – I think 30 tickets in total were sold for the show – and I knocked them back due to a previous engagement of rearranging my sock drawer that night.

But anyhow, Sub Pop know a winner when they see it, and there's enough hepcats singing the praises of the ‘Eyes to know that such a minimal investment will make its money back, and whatever the case, my hat is tipped in respect: this is a great album, the only “noise” disc I’ll likely hear this year, but also still very likely the best released all year. Cased in a handsome, fold-out sleeve showing off their fancy flyer art, and featuring such family-favourite song titles as “Stabbed in the Face”, “Urine Burn” and “Dead in a Boat”, this is an early morning heart-starter I like to scare the wife with. A friend thinks this album has a distinct touch of the Black Metal necro-misanthropies about it, and whilst he may be somewhere near the money with such a remark, I’m prone to ignore him on such matters, since he thinks everything sounds like Black Metal. For my two cents, this is more like a 21st-century meeting point for hardcore kids brought up on the ‘Flag’s Damaged, DOA-period Throbbing Gristle and the Swans ca. Cop. It’s obviously a whole lot more electronic than such a combination might sound, but we’re talking a “vibe” here as much as any audio similarities. Whatever the case, I can’t take Wolf Eyes very seriously, and I don’t think they can either, but as long as they keep this kind of room-clearing nonsense up, I’ll join the party.

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