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Well, how many bands in the world and in the metal domain (count that on fingers) made only masterpieces in their whole carreer (don't ask me, I don't know)? Fuck it, extreme music is no place for Sandra Brown or Danielle Steel to pop up with universally acclaimed and sold stuff. And Oxbow, on this album, became another golden act to confirm this law.
To the most hardcore fans of Oxbow, like the reviewer, this piece of work showed a mellower, tired part of the band. Not that it wouldn't have its rockin' moments too. This album is almost baroque in its intent and a deviation for the usual experimentation style of Oxbow. Those more indulgent will find some great songs to stay as classics.
The album starts with a song which I liked, to be honest, the most on this album, simply named Over. A gentle but still ominous blues, somehow reminiscent of Birthday Party and such acts, is being played while the desperate screams of Eugene are heard in the background. I figured out that this song, just like many other Oxbow songs, is about what the band themselves said to be the focus of every album: "love gone wrong". Sounds great, doesn't it? Lydia Lunch was also involved in this song. Aside from being a wonderful WOMAN (not chick), Lunch delivers a teardropping performance on this. It is not straightforward singing what she does, but interpretating in a confident manner, more an actress than a vocalist. What should I say than the duet of Eugene and Lydia is inspired: Eugene's violent bursts of anguish and something that would resemble love (more of a brutal, uncontrolled passion) is the perfect match to Lydia's role of the loved woman who decided to fuck an entire relationship that was distressed anyway. The instrumental performance is nothing mind-melting, but it is intimate enough, and its effects have psychological depths. The sound of the drums, for example, is frightening: it is fat, organic, and could get almost as menacing and aggressive as a whole riff. The violent, empassioned passages alternate with the calm and sad ones, winding to an adequate ending, meaningly an increasingly intense and ominous melody and a final shine of dementia from Eugene, everything stopping suddenly.
The second track, Lucky, is fast, almost speedy. The bass is audible and lets no note down, the drumming slams flawlessly, but I did not manage to get entirely into the vocals, since they have attached a noise-rock distorsion effect which I'm not fond of. The most interesting part consists of two leads, which are played probably by a hurdy-gurdy, or a bagpipe, or a distorted guitar. Like on the first track, the guys don't fuck around too much with intense tempo changes, except the last part, a bluesy, meditative, slowed down finish. Nothing special for post-punk standards, could have been played as well by Melvins or Nirvana.
The Last Good Time starts off with a buzzing atonal riff, accompanied by the drums. This is the frightening effect of the drums at its best, because it sounds just like a murderer coming closer and closer to the victim. The guitar is also nothing to whine about: Niko Wenner makes it just like Slayer would have if they got into stoner. I also tend to give credit to Eugene, for he sure gets into some of the maddest stuff that he ever spitted out of his lungs, beating the standards of a hateful criminal meets hysterical negro woman meets drunken guy. No kidding, he might get the prize for one of the ultimately insane and bloodthirsty vocalists in business. This song also got on the favourite list, on second place.
3 O' Clock is a letdown. I have no doubt in affirming that. It has a dominant sinister bass melody with echoing drums, rather scary, while Eugene mutters various stuff (like screaming "Oh baby sleep, BABY SLEEP!" and "Just fuck, fuck, fuck,(...) fuck me!"). The silent deal is occasionally interrupted by chaotic guitar noise, didn't hook me too much. And so, the whole shit creeps monotonously and carelessly until the end. So long!
A brief, but really strange interlude (Untitled 1) comes in to lower the whole tension of the album. For over a minute, some chords are tapped quietly, in a rather country manner.
La Luna, the track to which I listened first off this shit, is a total sludgefest, taking off with several seconds of inventive guitar feedback/noise and plodding with a really nasty disharmonic riff all over. Eugene willfully shows his third or fourth pair of lungs again. There are three fucking moments in which the song stops, and then the riffs are changed. Yeah, I know that they sound to some the same shit, but by listening carefully to them different tonalities and sounda can be discovered. In a strange way, the first riff sounds pretty confuse and angry, the second sounds grotesque and downright ugly, and the closing riff sounds dirgy and tired (by the way, hear Eugene crying: "Don... donkeys laughing!" Something got fucked up here!).
Untitled 2 is the second "moment of clarity", with a 2-3 note simplistic but relaxing piano line and fading trumpet or saxophone random wails. It lasts double than Untitled 2.
Babydoll is a story told by a guy who strangulated a chick. Already told enough! The whole thing is dominated by a discordant simplistic piano line, which is then taken over by the guitar. I'm not fond of this track at all, sounds rather tired and uninspired.
Then comes Killer, the last song, where I think that Lunch is featured again. A permanently blissful but nonetheless depressive melody, Lydia is singing, but the beautiful moments are crushed by several brutal walls of downtuned guitar noise and Eugene's wails. The track was supposed to last for 13 minutes or so, but in fact it lasts only for 5 or 6 minutes. Fuck.
The bonus track, a reinterpretation of Insane Asylum by Willie Dixon, saves the day. Eugene Robinson actually sings along with Marianne Faithfull. The main theme is mostly classic blues with a keyboard. Marianne Faithfull would remind of Janis Joplin, but with a lower, weaker and more, umm... choked??? tone. As for Eugene, he would never get a contract at Sony recordings for this, but succeeds in sounding like a man who totally lost his faith and even mind.
Well, guess I should do Le Grande rating now:
01. Over gets a 10. No discussion.
02. Lucky gets a 9, becuse it's cool to hear those leads and the band is full-force.
03. The Last Good Time also got a 9, because it is a really terrifying journey. That buzzing line with the drums are already great.
04. 3 O' Clock is good when trying to seduce your own ears into making some anal sex. 3 points. Duh!
05. Untitled 1, I liked this shit, too bad it's so short. Gets a 9.
06. La Luna? Hey, this was the real deal! Gets a 10 without discussion.
07. Untitled 2, I liked this more, I give it a 9.
08. Babydoll? Nope, sorry, you don't get the cred on this one. 4, and fuck off.
09. Killer - sorry, but even Lydia couldn't save you from failure. So long! Got a 7 for this.
10. Regarding Insane Asylum, I give it a 9. A good ending.
All these things gave an honourable 79. With a bonus point from a fan, you got the 80. Hope you grab it. If you cannot afford An Evil Heat or any other work for that matter.