Thursday, 4 March 2004

THE PITZ: VOLUME 3 - CD Review (2004)

Reviewer: MMT

See, I don't really have a problem with Death Metal*. I don't. We used to sneak on Obituary albums when we were supposed to be listening to German tapes on headphones at school. I have mass-moshed in a circular fashion to Lawnmower Deth at the Pitz itself. I have a Cradle Of Filth album. So when "The Pitz : Volume 3" kicks off with "Forever Lost" by Cerberus, I'm not at all put out. It could be a major label Death Metal* group, if such a thing existed. The guitars are apocalyptic, there is some virtuoso soloing, doom-laded vocals. And I'm happy. I set up my new Massage Pad in my music chair and feel the vibrations course through my lumber region.

It will become apparent that I am not particularly "up" on the MK music scene. Partially this is due to money - I never have any. I'm a poet ferchrissake. Partially due to my twenties slowly winding down. But hey - I'm still cool. Our band played at Bar Central recently. I have seen Odd Man Out at least twice before, too. On both occasions I quite liked them - they plough an angular, intelligent, muscular rock furrow. I think I have previously mentioned Six By Seven in connection with 'em. "Dead Inside" doesn't rilly grab me, though. Still, they're doing well nationally, so good on 'em.

Phema do a similar thing, jagged guitars and tremulant (!) vocals then giving way to a dark instrumental bit in the middle. And again, it's not bad. I would watch 'em at a local bands night or somethink. That's the important thing - celebrating local talent. And that's what The Pitz has always been good at. I challenge you to name another place in MK which has managed it so well for so consistently long. That's the important thing.

Note also how I neatly sidestep real incisive journalism here. Who needs it when you've got a Massage Pad? Luckily, though, I am finally grabbed properly on Track 4, "In The Market Place" by The Dead Girls. This is scuzzy and poppy, two facets appearing on this compilation for the first time, and welcome. Ten thumbs up.

Dive's "Place In The Sun" is an excitable "Bleach"-era-Nirvana clatter. And now I am nodding. The spirit of Rock still burns somewhere inside me, under the vodka-blurred beast I have become. Kurt would be proud. I hope.

"Dark Matter" by Mikaw Barish is the best thing on the compilation so far, perhaps the best thing on it all, I realise after several listens. I'm a sucker for lyrics anyway, and these are notably good in comparison. The singer has a really emotional edge in his voice, and trying to come up with a genre for it (the Last Recourse of the Poor Music Journalist) I coin the phrase "Darkrock". Seek out and enjoy.

Of course, being mostly ignorant about the MK music scene, I'm blind to some of the subtle differences between some of the bands. I dunno who came first, who stole who's bass player, etc. But I got a free copy of the CD, the least I can do is review it. And it does rock.

Fell Silent open up the drawer marked "Death Metal"* again, but at least have the good grace to freshen things up a bit with a really catchy chorus with harmonies and everything. Then everything gets even better with a slow mid-section which includes a cool talky bit. I am genuinely enjoying this. "Betray". Sweet.

The half-way point of the compilation lowers the volume a little again, Lupa's "Less Than, Lately" is circling, airy rock. It sounds urgent, earnest, punchy. It's good. It's also the best song title on the CD, incidentally. I find these things important.

I have seen Dark Hadou live a couple of times as well, at last year's Band Blitz. They are better live, the recording is a little muddy on "Welfare & Friends", not quite as atmospheric. Still, the quality of recording has come on in leaps and bounds since the early nineties when I used to buy local band tapes. All the tracks on here are noticeably well recorded. What times we live in!

"Something Like Winter" by Modulator starts off all Gothy, which is promising. Not much else happens for a while, but then there's yet another good midsection which speeds up, brings in distortion, riffs around and even becomes a bit dancy. Where have all these middle sections come from? Nice.

Fidjit are a lot more polished musically than many of the other bands on here, "2X2" is quite straightforward Funk Rock, which veers almost into Mansun territory at times, but definitely makes me feel groovy. Neck movements. And not just because of my Massage Pad. Skips into a rappy bit near the end.

There's a noise like a train at the start of "13th Saint" by Nomme Louis. I wonder how they did that? The rest is typically burly Death Metal* fare, complete with vomiting vocals. It's all starting to get a bit much. At least this is short.

And by a minute into "Exhumed Justice" by Seethe, I am starting to yearn for some airy keyboards, or some t.A.T.u.. As I have already whined, I do like Death Metal*, I do, but this bit of the CD is starting to feel a bit like eating a very dry cake. With lots of rusty nuts, bolts, washers etc. in it.

I guess that's my only criticism of the CD, and even that's not a very big one. It skews too far towards sweaty men playing Harsh Metal, but that's only a reflection of what The Kids want to see at The Pitz, I guess. I would like to have heard a few more different voices, a few more shades of grey or even colour amongst the grimy black, and where are the girls? Whence are the 75% Lips of 2004? Aah, maybe I am getting old. Still, my lower back feels very refreshed.

Hold up though - here are Graveltrap, and suddenly it's a cheerful ska-punk knees up! That's better! Smiling faces and sweaty hugs all round! The central riff is almost folky, but still works. This is the sound of a confident band at ease with themselves and their surroundings. Excellent.

Tarpot would seem to be engaging in that time-honoured practice of doing almost Comedy Death Metal*! Starting with what sounds like a Muppet singing the lyrics before the music kicks in, "Berzerker" spins close to a Satanic version of the Reeves Club Style. Still, I like it! The best bit is the sample at the very end.

The CD closes with a feature I like, a classic track from a Pitz Band of yesteryear, a nice concession to those of us who fought in the Metal Wars of the Nineties. This CD highlights Rat Salad, "Get Out" sounds a little tame after just having experienced Seethe and Tarpot, but draws a line through history from then to now.

So it's worth buying, espeshly if you're a denizen of the Pitz, and you like your guitars grindy, your bass apocalyptic and your vocals gutteral. And even if you don't, there's enough here even to entertain the most jaded of late twentysomething music fans. And here's to the Pitz for compiling it. Long may they continue.

* If it's even still called Death Metal. Sucks to you if it's not. I know what I mean, daddio.