Monday, July 26, 2010

Dead & Bloated - You Don't (1992)

I've said it many times before, but by 1992 thrash was already in the oven and ready for a good, deep cooking, that is if your name wasn't already Metallica, Slayer or Megadeth. Thus, it pains me so greatly to look at a debut album coming out in this year from a band who had already committed a few demos in the late 80s. Not to say that Dead & Bloated were one to show a considerable level of worth. In fact, the lamely titled You Don't is nothing more than an average offering which felt tired even for two decades ago, but had this very same album dropped a few years prior, it might have ridden the wave of California thrash to at least accommodate some small measure of cult worship and respect.

Perhaps the most delirious and noteworthy element to this record would be the vocals, which are a link in the chain more biting than most thrash or crossover bands of this period. Steven Kubit had a voice like a gremlin, or like the more cruel lines used on Annihilator's great Alice in Hell record, but used throughout almost the entire record. When they work, they work rather well, creating a vicious and hostile unpredictability that feels like a fresh kill. When they don't work, they're so calamitous that you'll just start cracking up unwittingly. The guitars have a solid but average, hammering tone to them, but they seem to focus more on just the act of thrashing out some swerving rhythms than really evoking memorable melodies or stringing together any truly gripping individual riffs. The rhythm section is a considerable presence, especially the bass guitar, which was actually more common as the genre was moving into a new decade.

What really drags the album down is the utter lack of compelling riff-work, despite the bands attempt to hammer out some earnest anger into the tracks. Take the almost 7-minute length title track, which consists of sloppy and unimpressive thrashing and far too much bass. The band also suffers from the occasional incorporation of a 'funky' presence in the bass, which is perhaps the symptom of a large plague infecting thrash of this period, brought on by the crappy Suicidal Tendencies side-band Infectious Grooves, and the increasing popularity of The Red Hot Chili Peppers in the metal audience, as they all abandoned themselves and started chasing the alternative rock culture chuck wagon. Dead & Bloated are not quite 'funk', but that influence is clearly creeping in here, with the way the bass bounces to the thick, aimless guitar.

Elsewhere, you're just not getting much of worth from these Californians. At best, on a track like "IXL", they sound like their statesmen Sadus, only cornier and not as fast. It's largely the bass sound, once again. "Nuclear Lucifer" might be an average, meaty mosh pit favorite at best, with some truly hostile vocals, but as usual this band is incapable of capitalizing on a good chorus. He usually just barks a little harder, and that's the difference. Most of the album though is not even as compelling as these. "Convulse" is retarded, with some clean guitars and an attempt at a psychedelic vocal line before they burst into a hilariously underwhelming rabble of goofy vocal patterns that peak with a few lines of lyrical repetition that make Les Claypool sound like less of a dork, like some sort of bizarre hoe-down throwdown of idiocy.

In the end, You Don't (I can't get over how bad the fucking title is) is nothing more than an irritating missed chance at a screwball thrash record. The competence of the musicians and the clear production do not compensate for the bad writing and ineffectual, floppy feel of the tunes. Perhaps the band's namesake was all too telling about this genre in 1992, and their sole full-length feels like a truly flaccid, extra limb that just flops around in your way all the time until you finally have the surgeon cut it off at the joint. Obviously the band did not feel so strongly about their work here, since they disappeared soon after.

Vedict: Fail [3/10]

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