Former THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN guitarist Jeff Tuttle bowed out to turn his sights upon other media projects including art and film. As it turns out, he's been slowly nurturing a side punk band to fruition, the hyper-agitated OLD GODS. Delivering a malicious and seldom-slow attack guided by Tuttle's love of horror films and hardcore, OLD GODS' full-length debut, "Stylized Violence" is one of the chewiest releases of the year. It's a reminder that proper hardcore can still be found out there in these godless (pardon the pun) times if you dig for it.
A snaggletooth sense of expressionism plays its hand in the band's mission, if the hot pink substitute for an implied deep red blood and wine on "Stylized Violence"'s packaging art isn't indicative. Even the fruit and meat are tinted accordingly, not to mention the slavering after-effects of eating. Open up to Michelangelo Cicerone's splatterpunk comic art, you'll find the debauched brutality ala "100 Bullets" equates into a satirical Coke commercial. Ditto for drummer Tony Wolski's apparent tribute to the hedonistic antihero Marv from Frank Miller's "Sin City".
All implication of a carnivorous and apathetic society. Accordingly, Tuttle and OLD GODS go bonkers in protest on "Stylized Violence" with careening recklessness, squelching feedback and a furious method of attack seldom few calling themselves punk today can stand up to. The elemental makeup of OLD GODS is a punishing blend of CONVERGE, REFUSED, AMEN, BLACK FLAG, EVERY TIME I DIE and touches of RINGWORM, not to mention PISSED JEANS, who Tuttle openly embraces.
Seldom does "Stylized Violence" let off the gas once the hasty "Slaughtered Vomit Doll" springs to life with attention-grabbing lunacy. "From Beyond" goes even faster, while "Lament Configuration" switches between a steady sequence of blunt punches and a jiving shuffle on the panting choruses. Tuttle screams his nads apart while Wolski pounds the tar out of the album's every available air space. Derek Swanson's gruff bass keeps a filthy throb throughout the album, while Randall Kupfer rapes his guitar for the meanest licks he can coax from it. Moreover, his unceasing distortion screeches keep the listener perched on the edge.
Only the slithering succession of "Portrait of the Artist" and "Gravity's Rainbow" offers respite from "Stylized Violence"'s remorseless aggression. Once "Rumble Fish" blitzes afterwards with a searing vengeance, there's no choice but to hang tight on OLD GODS' hardcore rollercoaster. The mid-tempo title track may give the illusion of a secondary slowdown, but the pulsating scuffs eventually turn into a steady mosh groove. Afterwards, "Grand Guignol" accelerates into a bloody, pummeling smackdown befitting of the song's title. The lyrical snuffs of the following track "Burlesque Suicide" can be thought of as a maudlin continuation of its predecessor, but the banging drive and wheezing riffs (intercut and concluded by more raging electro-splooge) is in line with something more degenerative. "Burlesque Suicide" conveys a self-inflicted decay by one who subjects himself into his art to the point of obsession.
A certain thread of mania indeed plays its hand into "Stylized Violence" with adamant abuse, power mad yelping and rugged tempos. It is the snappish spit against the pavement of a perceived denseness to society that includes watered-down pop punk that has killed the genre's good name. A brisk-moving affair with most of the songs clocking within the two minute range, Jeff Tuttle and OLD GODS have come up with blistering outsider music that sounds nearly as dangerous as hardcore's formative years. Thank God for that, excuse the pun once more.