without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Plasmatics was one of those few bands that rarely did things in a conventional way – you just have to take a look at the conception on Maggots: The Record. How many punk acts ever courted the unorthodox conceptual album parameters down the years? Not to mention the constantly changing/evolving musical approaches they had been taking every time they entered the studio. This one followed the commercial failure of Wendy’s brief solo affair – they’d realized at the time that the direction in which WOW and Kommander Of Kaos pointed was the wrong one for them to follow. Now, the O.Williams-Beech-Romanelli axis was determined to inject more heavy/speed metal into what they did, embracing eventually a style which suited them much better, unleashing the heaviest album to date on their short-career – providing a proper soundtrack to the kind of sci-fi/horror story here, about mutant worms, which cause panic in the future city of New York, with a typical American family as main characters, the White’s.
They’re relying more than ever on propulsive, double-bass tempos here, sequenced with entirely metallic, minimalist yet thundering riffs, punctuating persuasive catchphrases and profuse chorus-verse patterns. “Propagators” emphasizes the presence of a sinister nasal choir as well, alternating recurrently energetic accents and compulsive rhythm shifts, like a cross between Accept’s manners and Motörhead’s scruffy rock ‘n’ roll principles. Therefore, velocity is omnipresent, defining the context on the songs – combined sporadically with weightier, downtuning lines on “Finale” and “The Day Of Humans Is Gone”, which also deliver much more cogent solos and copious arrangements, naturally modestly-configured but giving the brutally simplistic music some changeable nature. Rarely, the band is ever incorporating any preeminent, adventurous ideas to the complacent speed metal mindset, rather highlighting the abundance of choruses and the looseness of terminal speed tempos – think of “You’re A Zombie”. At times, the formula turns out to be disconcerting and excessively repetitive, on the opening “Brain Dead” verse-chorus getting too comical with the unnecessary addition of guttural shouting from that Neanderthal-sounding choir. Although instrumentally, that one track is less-impulsive perpetrated and arranged than the rest, with the exception of the overfast ending sequence which hardly makes any sense. As for the speech transitions, the ineludible need to narrate the story at the end of each song affects the album continuity considerably. Five out of ten tracks here (half of the album) are narrating passages, so if I didn't lose track myself, 50% on Maggots: The Record is what makes it musically appealing in the end.
Plasmatics move to another level here, no longer sounding gladly primitive and unprofessional, now conveniently supported by an ostensibly more professional, tighter guitar player and drummer, with Stotts and Tolliver long gone out of the band. Determined to push away the abysmal pop-minded attitude on WOW, the 3 surviving members speed the songs up enthusiastically, making them beefier than ever with the addition of primordial double-bass beats in the vein of the massively-popular thrash ways at the time. Riffs are intentionally thrashy and brutally sharp, designed with blatant simplicity, rarely accentuating no consummate variations, no graceful key changes, only slowing down very occasionally on those quick, sordid verses, giving Wendy’s words atmosphere and extent. That’s happening very sporadically here, on an album which focuses on rampant velocity, uncompromisingly. Sounding less-traditional and sober than Coup D’Etat on other hand, this one consists on less-embellished, fruitful songs with a tremendously direct perspective replacing the subtle melodious sensitivity on the above-mentioned attempt, much more mindlessly-conceived with the suggestions of no Wagener or Dierks. Instrumental coherence and song-writing cogency are eluded, as well as song-body depth and subtlety in favor of emotionless, rashly dispatched aggression and speed. Punkish values ain’t denied completely fortunately, yet clearly-metallic lines and less-socially-indignant, licentious lyrics are taking over, creating a gloomy atmosphere which suits adequately however, the sci-fi/horror message these songs are preaching about, enriched with evocating, plenteous sound effects.
Maggots: The Record took Plasmatics in a completely different direction to where Wendy was with the infamous Kommander Of Kaos, more convenient according to the times, yet being inevitably eclipsed by the burgeoning power and popularity of thrash. The band was heading for extinction as the 80’s came to an end. Despite the feebleness on the conception of the songs and the laziness on their arranging, this album is a nice job, proving the not-unusual, consanguineous kinship between punk and metal, one more time. It’s a muscular display of crushing speed metal that won’t disappoint any of the most hardcore Plasmatics fans, specially those with a soft spot for their metallic side, besides Wendy's inviting breasts. Happy 9th anniversary, guys.