END OF LEVEL BOSS
"Prologue"

(Exile On Mainstream)

01. Freak Waves
02. Disjointhead
03. Vivid
04. Hedonophobia
05. Noisepicker
06. Step the Mind Gap
07. Spine Transfer
08. Leaving the Chemosphere

RATING: 7.5/10

Former HANGNAIL vocalist Heck Armstrong has been kicking around the scene for years, but he's still got that teen scream going on, the primal yowl of a pimply young Chris Cornell celebrating the onset of his first pubes by caterwauling along with his beat-to-shit ZEPPELIN tapes in the shower. It's a throaty, untutored, emotional yell (see also: Butch Balich of PENANCE, or hell, even John Bush if you wanna stretch the point a little), full of doomy catharsis and Valhallan vigor.

It may seem strange upon first listen that, rather than dino-rock crunge or KYUSS recycling, Armstrong is screaming to a soundtrack that's more VOIVOD and NEUROSIS wrecking Battlebots in a decaying missile factory than anything else. There's that loose, clattery feel of punks trying really hard to write a step or two above their playing abilities, then just getting lit in the studio and tearing into the songs with snarling abandon. Odd chords and ham-fisted time changes give off that aura of rusting industrial hulks and dissipating isotopes, while the epic nature of the songs and Armstrong's dramatic vocals provide that same gaunt, gothic swamp melodrama that fueled ACID BATH.

The whole thing tends to run together into one grandiose movement, a rancid slice of filthy prog, for lack of a better term. Think the musical dexterity and basement grime of KYLESA, maybe, or the ferocious emotion of MILLIGRAM hepped up on a cocktail of murky and obscure early-'90s Rotz Records industrial punk-metal (INTRICATE, anyone?). It's all a gloriously whacked lo-fi experiment by people who just don't know any better, as fuzzy and doomed-on-paper as any mid-'70s SABBATH trainwreck, with similar "holy shit, did that work?" results. Think "Dimension: Hatross" with less meth and aluminum poisoning, and more skunk weed, cheap lager, and '70s rock albums inherited from burnout older brothers.

But does it rock? Yea, verily, and mightily, and in its own flaming facemelt trailer-trash genius way. Pick it up.

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