DEATHBOY - PRESS ARCHIVE
Deathboy-the-chap has been emitting splendid music for some number of years. Originally it was 'ardcore techno in the (reasonably famous if the phrase '88 Acid Revival' is familiar) studios used by the-joke-that-turned-into-a-phenomenon, Altern-8. Now he spits out songs like an otherwise affable chap possessed by uneasy spirits. Or indeed expensive ones. Most of his work is free-for-the-download as MP3, but Lee Chaos persuaded him into a studio for long enough to commit this set of stormers to disc. A hacked-up breakbeat seemingly sets the tone as (Old) school of Eric B & Rakim, but then an angry squad of guitars burst out of a nearby doorway and chase the breakbeat off down the road and reveal the true nature of this disc – malevolent tech-guitar-breakbeat.
Computer no. 1 has the same aura of narked off menace that Malcom McDowell brings to Gangster no. 1. And rightly so. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough, you muppet. D'you want some? Do yer? 'Cos you can 'ave it if you want it. D'YER WANT SOME YOU SLAG? That's the sort of atmosphere you've got to deal with. An unruly mob of songs that lean up against big black cars in creaking black leather jackets and light cigarettes with great flaming zippos, and when they do you can see the odd scar and an evil glint in their eyes that says 'Yes? What are you looking at, laddie?'
Unlike many 'industrial' songs, these aren't lurching about, breaking bottles on their heads and swearing like angry tramps in order to scare you into submission. This lot just stand there and stare at you in a calculating manner. Of course, like any dangerous mob, they're partial to the odd crate of expensive vodka. Preferably alternated with lines of fine cocaine the size and shape of road-markings. At that point, all hell breaks loose. The quiet ones start throwing tables out of the window and ranting about phones, the loud ones sit and stare at their collection of knives for hours at a time. Sometimes there are odd 'grark' noises like someone playing techno records backwards on a rotavator, but the angry guitars keep turning up like Sam Raimi villains and challenge the 'grark' noises to single combat. Well, that's what Decimate sounds like to me, anyway.
Over all of this semi-controlled mayhem we find Deathboy-the-chap presiding like the evil genius at the head of the table: "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die." He's grimly determined to take over the world and he's going to strap you in a chair and tell you exactly why, in the terminally hacked off manner of someone who's as mad as hell and not taking it anymore. Some of his reasons are intensely personal and you're not entirely sure you should even attempt to listen, but his voice is strangely compelling...or it could be that this is a very good and very single-minded disc of songs of loss, anger, destruction, personal failure, redemption and hope, all of which are bursting at the seams with tunes, beats and the manic energy of the vodka-fuelled. If anything, it all sounds vaguely like a Chaos Engine thankfully unplagued with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Highlights? Demons has wonkily grinding synths and unexpected tinkly piano. Killer has the bass bits from some choice drum & bass while someone plays their teeth nervously while waiting for the 'drum &' to arrive and hoping the boss doesn't find out. Thankfully, the drums quickly lurch out of a taxi and set to with a will. Cracking stuff. Change channels Lets Go All the Way an unlikely, but deeply welcome manner. The title track Music to Crash Cars To nails Energy Flash-era Beltram and Everybody in the Place to PWEI guitars. Ich bin ein right lash-up, but it rocks like a bastard.
On balance, I'm sticking with the gang of hoodlums theme. It's much more fun.
(Uncle Nemesis, Starvox)
Pity for Monsters II, The Water Rats, Kings Cross, 27th Feb 2004 A band I reviewed long ago, Upstairs At The Garage, when I gave ‘em a rather lukewarm reception. They just didn’t seem to click on that occasion. Apparently, that review - which, I insist, wasn’t exactly *bad*; it was just a bit lukewarm - went down in Deathboy history as a dastardly assault on an innocent band. Jason, Deathboy’s guitarist, has pointedly reminded me of it at regular intervals, every time we’ve run into each other at gigs and clubs over the last year or more. Well, all parties will be relieved to know that this time things do seem to click. Deathboy’s set tonight is far tighter, far more assured, than that Garage gig. I suspect that’s partly because the line-up has slimmed down a bit since the early days: I’m sure the band had a second guitarist back then. Now, it’s a straight-up guitar/bass/electro-drums/vocals set-up, and the overriding musical intent seems to be to lock down a tight groove, and keep it nailed while Scott - the man who is Deathboy - raps out his lyrics over the top. The overall effect is heavily rhythmic while also being bizarrely relaxed - the vocals are occasionally impassioned, but more frequently simply chatted out on the beat, like an industrial version of the Ruthless Rap Assassins, or even The Streets. It’s difficult to avoid being swept along by the insistent, percussive rhythms, and sure enough there’s a mass of fans at the front shakin’ their booties to the Deathboy groove. It’s unexpected, in a way - all the publicity surrounding Deathboy tends to create the impression that the band are the new Nine Inch Nails, and while I dare say there’s an element of Mr Reznor’s nail-it-down-and-freak-out-over-it industrial-rock techniques in the Deathboy sound, I really wasn’t expecting anything so....groovy. There are moments, I confess, when if I’d had a few more drinks I might’ve been moved to shout ‘Yo!’. Deathboy, in their live ‘full band’ incarnation, seem to have got that big, bad, rhythm-monster tamed and eating out of their hands.