without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
It would be difficult for me to discuss Short Bus Pile Up's Repulsive Display of Human Upholstery without first mentioning how absolutely phenomenal it looks. Not only 'graced' with one of Jon Zig's very best works, but I love how the Virginians' nearly unreadable logo really jives with the image behind it, that ghastly display of bones and flesh turned into room trappings. Even the fucking ceiling! One can just imagine the individual responsible for such a feat, taking the old 'Most Dangerous Game' plot to a whole other level of artistry, and clearly this is one of the best horror-themed visages I've ever seen for a death metal album. But it also comes with a caveat: that my superficial expectations for this music were set immediately quite high for the actual music.
No, Short Bus Pile Up do not quite live up to that level, because frankly there's nothing creepy, shocking or incredibly distinct about the music they perform. Hell, there are single riffs on oldies like Leprosy or Cause of Death that are more frightening and evil than the sum of every song on this disc. Once you're past the familiar, misogynistic brutality of the lyrics, song titles and artwork, it's nothing out of the ordinary. But that aside, where I find the value in this group is that they have one of the better takes I've experienced on the 'slam' subgenre of the style. Eschewing the meat-headed monotony of many of their peers to create an album that is better balanced rhythmically, they provide plenty of punch for the flailing fisted pit monkeys and also some uptempo, clinical surges of intensity that generate excitement. The songs are more highly developed than the earlier material I've heard, and add to this the very deep, murky and nihilistic production values of the record and there's no doubt this is serial killer slam to which few people are going to remain still...
Vocals here are a wretched guttural deep enough that it could very easily camouflage itself against the low tuned guitars and bass drum, and yet the three seem like a trio of neanderthals beating each others' children and tribeswomen over the head, dragging them back to their respective lairs, and keeping score on the wall with cave paintings of each others' blood. The riffs are never blindingly complicated, but there is clearly a bit of effort placed into the faster sequences, almost like a crud-soaked technical thrash that generates some excitement for those breakdowns; a crucial contrast that prevents the album from becoming boring. It also helps a lot that the lion's share of the songs are really short, around 2 minutes, but still pack themselves with plenty more note progressions and tempo shifts than your garden variety grind or gorecore. The mix to this is fairly organic, also, somewhat lo-fi in comparison to a lot of the other slam bands I've checked out. It can seem slightly muffled and under-polished, without those rich and meaty modern tones, and the bass lines on this album seem like little more than an afterthought to the guitar chugging, but it's desirably honest all told, like they recorded it in someone's $2500 basement studio.
Apart from maybe its great title and cover, I'm not sure Repulsive Display of Human Upholstery is going to ascend to a cult classic status 5-10 years down the line. But for what it is, it's pretty entertaining. Short, under 30 minutes with a few alternate song versions stitched to the end, and it never grows boring. I'd like to hear even more of that variety they hint at in the future. They've got the brawling and bouncing palm-mute rhythms down pat, but lack some wild, incendiary leads or atonal, freakish melodies that would create a more fulfilling atmosphere. Also, though they're unlikely to cause much friction with strict devotees of the genre, I get a little tired of the Cannibal Corpse/Mortician lyrical trappings, which these guys never seem to escape here unless you count the few scatological leanings; though in a few of their disgusting rhyme schemes they evoke a handful of memorable lines. I suppose after staring at that artwork for about 15 minutes every time I return to this disc, I just want something so much more atmospheric and sick; but taken at the music's face value, it definitely could be the start of something promising. Fans of USDM butchers Devourment, Lividity and Deeds of Flesh should check this out.
Short Bus Pile Up is totally honest about what they stand for: slams. This band quite literally shows itself as a slam band in the first song with the totally killer and groovy "Ball-Peen Beating" before setting out on a musical journey bound to take you about three feet in the musical world.
Well, that sounds awfully negative now doesn't it?
SBPU plays a pretty generic branch of brutal death metal with strong songwriting backbones that have a penchant for relying on the groovy breakdowns and slams. But, that is where their strong suit lies because every standard riff they play in between slams is obviously a lead up to said slam. And that is where the band fails first; the variety. They have absolutely none and rely entirely on the same song structures.
But, Jesus do those slams rule. Just listen to the title track! This band also pulls off a smart thing and places the exciting tracks throughout the album rather than weighing down one side of the disc or the other. On one end we have "Urethral Myiasis" and the other is the title track with several fantastic grinding tunes in between. Well-placed song order is always a bonus to me, as it means I can actually get through listening to a full brutal death metal album.
Now, the instruments. The guitar is what you'd expect and instantly hear: detuned chugging, tremolo, occasional pinch harmonics, and pretty much nothing else. But, it performs its duty admirably and chugs out those slams like they're nothing and keep the temperature high enough to get a rouse out of you. The drums are literally the best part of this album, because that snare sound is only achievable by gods among men, and this sound is certainly one of those. That incredibly loud high snap is fundamental to the sound of SBPU and plays a pivotal role in creating worthwhile slams.
Vocals are there. They perform and keep the songs from being straight slams for minutes on end, but they're remarkably average and only go to show the unfortunate state of metal vocals at the moment. Half the time the slams sound contests between the guitarist and vocalist to see who can belch loudest.
- Slams are fantastic
- Snare sound is out of this world
- Song order
- Songs are predictable
- Slams are everywhere
- Guitar is relatively boring
- Song structures are riff/slam/riff2/slam for the whole album
- Vocals are generic and sterile
Overall, despite the heaping of cons here, the album is enjoyable if average. Take the slams where you can get them though and support this band.
For the love of all that is brutal this album is good. I had heard from a friend or two that is was one of the best releases of last year, and after listening through it multiple times I wouldn't say they were incorrect, because this is in fact a fantastic album. Hailing from Fredericksburg, VA, Short Bus Pile Up play a mix of brutal death metal and slam, and they blend the genres with shocking fluidity. One moment it'll sound like I'm listening to some new Cannibal Corpse, then the next minute I feel like I'm listening to Abominable Putridity. This isn't a bad thing, however, because as previously mentioned, the blending of the styles is very smooth and nothing ever feels tacked on.
Then there are the instruments, all of which do a great job for the most part. As is to be expected, the bass is nearly inaudible, but I'm pretty much used to that being the case with most heavy music. I would have really liked more of an emphasis on the bass, because if used correctly it can make a slam band sound much heavier than it would be without, but what can ya do? The guitars play brilliantly placed chromatic riffs that sound unbelievably heavy at points and never let up. The drums however are the prized jewel of the band. Some drum parts are ridiculously fast and intricate, like the blast beats in "Urethral Myaisis," while some parts are slow, yet brutal enough to keep the slams nice and heavy.
And the slams, oh the slams. I haven't heard a band that uses slams so intelligently since Abominable Putridity. It never feels like the songs revolve around them, but there are plenty to go around to keep you headbanging. It is easy to lose track of which song you're listening to however, which is my other problem with the album. A lot of the tracks sound eerily similar to each other on the surface, and unless one is listening very closely it's easy to get lost.
The two qualms I have with this album shouldn't be an invitation to ignore it however. Repulsive Display of Human Upholstery is an extremely solid release from an up-and-coming band that you need to keep an eye out for. Definitely one of the top releases of 2010.
Read more reviews and news at http://moshrebellion.blogspot.com/
Well, musically, this may be the most retarded slam death metal album to ever exist. Even bands like Devourment have more class than this release and its chugging, pornogrind-reminiscent slams. As harsh at that may sound, this release is really good: Short Bus Pile Up have successfully created one of the catchiest slam death metal albums to ever exist.
Repulsive Display of Human Upholstery solves one of my biggest gripes about slam death metal as a whole: it drags on for fucking ever. The obvious solution? Make none of your songs longer than 3:00 in length. Sure, it's a bit odd to have a release that has 12 tracks and is still under 30 minutes in length, but the music benefits from the fat trimmed from Short Bus Pile Up's music. The guitars are relatively suppressed in the production compared to most slam death metal bands, but musically they're great. They're equal parts pornogrind and brutal death metal, so they're a bit more original than most slam death metal tends to be. The album never really focuses on momentum at all; it's all about the beat and how catchy it is. On and on they chug for 27 minutes, retaining a fair amount of melody but still keeping a fair amount of pure chunkiness behind the riffs. The drums are your typical crappy-sounding kit playing typical slamming riffs, and the drummer doesn't really do anything worth mention. The vocals are typical brutal death metal grunts, but somehow they feel a bit weak. They have a sufficient amount of originality, but they're not loud or intrusive enough. They just seem to sit on the sidelines. I really hope that on Short Bus Pile Up's next release, they step up the game on their production, which is the biggest problem on Repulsive Display of Human Upholstery.
But production aside, this is a great release, and anyone even slightly into slam death metal should check this out. It's succinct, catchy, yet sufficiently heavy brutal death metal, and it may very well be the best BDM release of 2010.
I swear to god from the moment I first listened to this I don't think it went a day unplayed for a month. This is one of the catchiest, most painfully entertaining slam releases I've ever encountered, and the number of people I've shrieked to about this album's qualities has to number in the triple digits. This includes people on the street who I've just frantically yelled "SHORT BUS PILE UP!" at. They're fearful and questioning and they SHOULD BE.
Short Bus Pile Up plays SLAM with a capital SLAM and spends most of the running time of their debut album reminding you of the fact. Absurdly brutal and single-minded, this band is like the more human, spirited version of Cephalotripsy. Instead of relying purely on slams like that band, though, Short Bus Pile Up unleashes a variety of grooves on the listener, from oldschool pornogrind gore-polka passages to Devourment-style slam to Jungle Rot-type chunky death metal. Of course, all the usual suspects are present: a wonderfully gurgly vocal performance, bass drops, gravity blasts, and needling tremolo riffs, but Short Bus Pile Up uses these old tropes in such an engaging manner that the fact that they're old ideas ceases to matter at all. The songs are compact and devoid of extraneous filler- every single riff and drum beat is firmly calculated you make your dick turn inside out.
I appreciate how succinct this band's music is- nothing is wasted and everything feels essential. Not to mention the fact that the songs are fantastic: Short Bus Pile Up has a great sense of pacing, knowing exactly how slam should be constructed, using blast beats to develop tension that gets released in one of the band's array of massive grooves. The usage of porngrind-style polka beats is an interesting element that gets used to great effect, forming a straightforward rhythmic base for chunky, almost Neuropathia-style riffs to run over. The only thing you can add to slam to make it better is even more groove, so I approve of the decision.
About the only element I would even mildly complain about would be the production, which seems to be missing a bit more low-end on the guitars- they're not buried, but they could be brought forward a little bit to match the drums better and make a bigger wall of sound. This is a minor quibble, though, as Short Bus Pile Up have already made one of the best slam debuts (of sorts) I've ever heard. If you love the style like I do, this is an absolutely mandatory purchase: support a young band who are making the music we want to hear, please!