Hold on tight, to both your ears and your lunch.
Mike Diver 2009
If you’re already au fait with the noise chucked up by London(ish) noise-cum-doom-cum-grind outfit Todd, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Big Ripper, their third full-length. The line-up’s changed a little, but the song (largely) remains the same: painfully to the point. Those new to this sort of thing: best step back a bit, cover your ears, and duck.
There may well be louder bands than Todd in the UK – Part Chimp can stake something of a claim to being the very loudest (they once made this writer feel distinctly unwell through sheer volume, turning the floor of London’s Scala into what felt like a bucket seat on a waltzer), and several sludge-praising purveyors of tumultuous amplification have rendered listening gear numbed into submission in the time between Todd’s second album Comes To Your House (2006) and today. But no band on this side of the Atlantic makes the brain shake, rattle and roll over entirely spent quite like these brutes.
Who, however polite they might be in person, kick up a stink of pure aggression from the very outset here – Track Side Fire doesn’t so much crackle into life as explode in the listener’s face like a pipe (cleaner-sized) bomb hidden within a stick of gum. Subtlety is the preserve of acts with no hunger to administer the very sweetest tinnitus; Todd go for the ears, the throat, the eyes, the knees and the gut with a flurry of blows so speedily delivered that the sensation felt first play through is comparable to being blindsided by a sizeable right hook. Only there’s no disguising the attack – it’s clear as day, bold as brass knuckles.
But unrelenting it isn’t – an opportunity to steady oneself after the cacophonous, caustic assault of Black Gold, Country and Western Super Posters! and Arista Disco presents itself in the shape of French and in France, a meandering, dirge-y drone that erupts in such slow motion that side-stepping its fiery effluence is as elementary as purposefully falling in front of a train.
Which, all told, is not to say Big Ripper isn’t enjoyable, as it is, immensely so. But (probably) purely to an audience that already exists – newcomers may well flee over yonder hills after seconds of this succession of threats on the senses. But if you think you’re up to it, spin this and hold tight – to both your hearing and your lunch.