Chump Change

16 – Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds – Relapse Records

Southern Californian metal is alive and well in the form of 16. Their newest outing, Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds, has a distinctive geographical flavor. There are super-heavy, catchy riffs that Josh Homme wishes he’d come up with, progressions that evoke the Mojave desert while Chris Jerue does his best Cookie Monster to share his thoughts of pain and the cruelty of an unjust world.

This is a metal album, make no mistake, but 16 are obviously no strangers to the Amphetamine Reptile label and the bass has that same feel of David Wm Sims’ in the Jesus Lizard era. Sometimes their noise is more reminiscent of Helmet or Surgery than of Mastodon or any other metal giants, and the vocals are given the same treatment that the later, heavier Ministry records had (as opposed to their Pet Shop Boys/Depeche Mode sounding early releases).

Stand out tracks include the opener “Theme from ‘Pillpopper,'” “Her Little ‘Accident,'” “Opium Hook” and “Bowels of a Baby Killer.” There’s definitely a disturbing theme to Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds, but it’s up to the listener to figure it out for him- or herself. I’m only here to give a thumbs up or down, not interpret the damn thing for everyone.

So, take one part QOTSA or Them Crooked Vultures, a few parts AmRep, add a dash of Hypo Lux and Hermes Pan and you’ve got one hell of a record. Most assuredly a big thumbs up.

– Trevor J Wallace


Cripple Bastards – Senza Impronte – Relapse Records

Not since the Dwarves has a band put more across in such a short amount of time – the entirety of the Senza Impronte ep clocks in at roughly 7:45. Yup. Five songs in under eight minutes.

This is a brutal record, owing more to thrash and grindcore than standard metal. And I can’t be sure, but the I believe that the alternating Gollum- and Cookie Monster-style vocals are sung entirely in the band’s native Italian tongue. Did I forget to mention these guys hail from Asti, a town between Turin and Genoa in Northern Italy? Sorry.

Lest one think they are simply an across-the-pond rip of the aforementioned Dwarves, keep in mind CB have been tearing it up since 1988, when the hardcore bands around them were breaking up and the Dwarves still sounded like the Seeds.

BTW, I listened to this 7″ ep three times while I wrote this. Doesn’t get much more angry, faster or fun.

– Trevor J Wallace


Royal Thunder – CVI – Relapse Records

Atlanta, GA’s Royal Thunder have the new edge of 70s born Southern-fried hard rock all figured out.

The twist? Singer Mlny Parsonz veratile singing style that can jump from a Joplin (Janis, that is) growl to a clear plaintive singing style as clear and heart-breaking as the refrains from a preacher’s daughter.

But while Parsonz’ voice may a signature of Royal Thunder’s boogie-woogie swamp stomp, the band is a capable three-piece behind her, making a lot more noise than one would expect from a guitar, a bass and drum kit. When the record isn’t full-on rocking, it teeters into sensitive, almost Goth chord structures that sometimes bring to mind state mates REM if the latter were known to wear heavy make-up (minus that vainglorious popinjay Stipe of course), loads of black and performed midnight rituals to the spirit of Gaia.

I don’t bring up Wicca lightly. Though I’ve no clue where the religious proclivities of Royal Thunder lie, song titles such as “Whispering World,” “Black Water Vision” and “Sleeping Witch” definitely bring to mind the ghosts of the south and the long gone Native Americans that once inhabited it.

CVI occasionally evokes the sounds of the Cult circa Electric (an album that was in itself a mirror of metal from a previous era) but manages to remain very much a product of this, the second decade of a new millennium. This, I’m thinking, is a good one for your next Halloween rock and roll party.

– Trevor J Wallace

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