The Locust: Plague Soundscapes
if you like this you'll like: Blood Brothers, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Holy Molar, Cattle Decapitation, Converge, Ex Models, Melt Banana, Les Georges Leningrads, Swing Kids, Clikitat Ikatowi, Angelhair, Tragedy, Death From Above.
REVIEW: The Locust: Plague Soundscapes
The Locust: Plague Soundscapes [Anti, 2003] (mp3s)
Three words? Before its time
I don't have cable, nor do most of my friends, so my exposure to cable TV is limited to visits to my parents' house every few months. Recently however, a friend of mine was in town staying at a hotel and I was able to catch a couple of hours' worth of MuchMusic on the suite's cable TV; I couldn't believe how much of a change MM had undergone in less than a year. Gone is the relaxed VJ, chilling in front of the camera and introducing the videos. Instead, we have a cameraman who shakes like an uneducated Guy Ritchie, an editor who pines for a position on the next Quentin Tarantino picture, and George Stroumboulopoulos talkin' just a shade under the speed of an auctioneer. In this context, however, The Locust's Plague Soundscapes suddenly made sense. A few steps before their time, with chops to make black-dyed-hair-bad-tattooed followers jealous, and a mission statement that ends with the pronouncement that The Locust will "...change the way people look at music, or maybe just destroy it in general..." it is not inconceivable that the band may simultaneously save hardcore and become MTV darlings.
The Locust has been controversial since their inception, criticized on the one hand for their violent live performances and reputed drug addictions, and accused on the other for "ruining hardcore for fat kids." Though they're skinny and schizoid, with a penchant for tight fitting costumes, The Locust are also one of the of the longest-lasting bands of their ilk. What divides them from the legions of keyboard-driven, grind-guitar hooligans, however, is not their age, but the creative arc of their output. Whereas The Locust's early records were marred by weak recording and somewhat unfocused playing, their most recent releases (particularly Flight Of The Wounded Locust EP and the split 7" with Melt Banana) have found the group cleaning up the production and creating memorable, passionate songs: not the incoherent and inconsequential blasts that marked previous outings. Plague Soundscapes is The Locust's best effort yet. At just under twenty minutes, it is also (somehow) their longest.
Producer Alex Newport (The Melvins, At The Drive In, Sepultura) mans the boards, and cleans up the mix so you can hear the absolute madness that Bobby Bray and Justin Pearson wreak upon their guitar and bass. Best of all, this hasn't watered down the sheer impact of these thirty-second grind-metal masterpieces: in fact, they've layered the instruments on each song, creating The Locust's heaviest and confoundingly cleanest production to date. You're in awe both at the frenzied technical prowess, and at the sheer intensity. Plague Soundscapes also contains the best – and catchiest - songs that The Locust have written. "Earwax Halo Manufactured For The Champion In All Of Us" magnificently climaxes no less than three times in just over fifty seconds. "Anything Jesus Does I Can Do Better" starts with a straight-ahead hardcore riff before breaking up into a mosh breakdown, and fading to a bona fide Man...Or Astroman?-esque ambient ending. Oh yes – and in just about a minute, as well.
"The Half-Eaten Sausage Would Like To See You In His Office" takes an 80s Metallica riff and tosses it through meat grinder, while drummer Gabe Serbian thoroughly embarrasses Lars Ulrich. "Pulling The Christmas Pig By The Wrong Pair Of Ears" shoots lasergun blasts that would give Wayne Coyne a wet dream.
The Locust have stared into the broken, blackened future and its vacuous, flickering music television - and have created songs to fit in the spaces between videos. They've made elegant musical quick-cuts, swung the hardcore/punk camera for a look back on itself, and exposed the scene for all of its glossy Spin-magazine dreams. Scathing, brilliant, and coming to your favorite music station before the decade is up.