No ballads, just growling basslines from this rabid art punk debut.
Camilla Pia 2011-09-13
For a debut allegedly recorded in a "72 hour chemical haze", Black Junk is remarkably smart and focused. But there’s really no need for such myth-making (drugs, sex – blah, yawn) to convince us that Exit_International are ‘for real’ rock nutjobs in skin-tight jeans. You only need to listen to them.
Guitar-free and powered solely by two bassists, a drummer and a deranged screech monster, this fast-rising Cardiff act are becoming renowned for unleashing sonic lunacy live, but can they cut it on record? Thirteen tracks in just over 30 minutes say hell yes, as they pound, twist and turn like no other heavy riff anthems around. Imagine Queens of the Stone Age’s notoriously wayward bass player Nick Oliveri morphed into a three-piece band and covering the best of The 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster with a bit of Frank Zappa thrown in and you’re somewhere close to imagining the thrilling, wild-eyed insanity of this first offering.
Intensely rhythmic from start to finish, Black Junk roars into life with the devastatingly aggressive Glory Horn, and pretty soon Scott Lee Andrews is proclaiming "never said I wanna be a man" on Sex W/ Strangers and "I’m hearing voices, I’m hearing voices" on the deranged metal of Voices. There’s no let up as more surreal lyrics and song titles ensue. These include an encounter with Sherman Fang and David Bowie’s ghost, but these cuts are nothing compared to the schizoid music-making on display as vocals flick from high to low register mid-melody on the guttural Shake Your Bad Ass, and on King of the Junkies croak quietly about buying "a dream machine" from aforementioned head druggy. Riiiight...
Take away Exit_International’s OTT, ‘I’m mad, me’ verging on the ridiculous, bizarre subject matter and you’re left with dark, devastatingly good music. Sometimes their eccentricity works, sometimes it doesn’t. And you can’t help but feel if the trio had shifted the wackiness down just a notch, Black Junk would be more than a great fun punk riot of a record – it would be a really, really incredible one.