Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bloodcum - Death by a Clothes Hanger (1988)

Pretty much everything about Bloodcum describes them as one of the more 'raunchy' thrash metal acts to explode in the California scene of the mid-80s. From the eyebrow raising band name, to the splattering crossover-gone-speed metal chaos that they laid down i the studio, to the album title, shitty album cover and menstrual look of the logo. But mostly these guys remind me enormously of Exodus back when they were their no-frills, evil, aggressive thrashing selves. Death by a Clothes Hanger features some of the same violent guitar tone as a Bonded by Blood, and the vocalist reminds me quite a lot of a Baloff, only far less corrosive. The band even featured Tom Araya's brother John at one point on bass and guitars, so they were pretty well jacked in to the happenings of their region.

However, they never really reached the level of an Exodus, Forbidden, Vio-Lence, or Testament, remaining far in the backdrop well behind even Defiance or Hexx. It's kind of a pity, because their extreme approach to the genre would have gone over very well with a wider range of Holy Terror or Dark Angel fans, and I think they would certainly have had an appeal to those into the extreme crossover sounds of Cryptic Slaughter or D.R.I. There's a certain street ready savvy to Bloodcum, almost as if they liked to gather around their audience and then gang bang them with baseball bats and brass knuckles. If you're looking for a fight, then you've come to the right band, and I can imagine their gigs must have had some outrageous mosh pits and broken glass and club fixtures.

What prevents Death by a Clothes Hanger from reaching a higher tier of possibility is the sheer lack of diversity present in the riffs. The band simply clobbers you with one fast paced beating after the next, and this can grow fairly exhausting in time. The entire album is only 21 minutes long, covering 10 tracks, and aside from the opener "Happily Married" and closer "Sike-O-Path!", they are all about 1-2 minutes in length, with some like the bass parody gone splatter core of "Harassment by Farm Animals" at grind/punk length. At best, the band is just attacking at an unrelenting pace, like "First to Die" which should thrill anyone who digs Darkness Descends or the more aggressive, street violent records from Canada's Razor. The guitars riffs speed by like they're passengers on a dragster bound for a brick wall, and at their slowest they lapse into crushing Exodus mosh riffs (queue the intro to "Sike-O-Path!"!).

Had the band slowed down more often, who knows what they could have been capable of. The lack of branching out in the writing process probably crippled their chance to make waves, but that doesn't stop the trio of "Happily Married", "Son of Sam" and "Live to Kill" from kicking your ass all the way down to the liquor store and back. Frenetic levels of testosterone are being bled dry into the atmosphere, slipping up prostitutes and gangbangers both. Can you imagine living in this band's neighborhood when they were jamming? I'd suspect it was Pearl Harbor II. The vocals often sink into some goofy narrative, and the lyrics are your typical street level moronic views of subjects both silly and serious that forever haunted most crossover bands, but this dude would sneer just enough that you could overcome the hesitation and just bang thy head.

Imagine a happily married union of Exodus and D.R.I. If such a prospect thrills you and has you donning your Municipal Waste tee and shit kicking boots, then go fucking track this record down, because it has your name written all over it and it's actually superior to dozens of the current crop of wanna-be bands who were not even alive when material like this was in natural abundance the first time. I don't personally love this to death, but songs like "Happily Married" and "First to Die" are certainly engaging in a head meets pavement manner, and you could do a lot worse, excepting the band's name and album title.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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