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Community College GWAR - 0%

Cat III, April 14th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Back in the dark days before YouTube and Prime Video made broadcast television obsolete, there was a local TV station that aired student films from the nearby college. Some films displayed latent talent: a clever plot or a performance from an actor with potential. Mostly it was bad comedy; the sort that's a riot for the films' creators, but won't be tolerated by anyone who's not a relative, a friend or otherwise obligated to put up with it. If that channel had more cursing and was an extreme metal band it would be Austin, Texas' Sausage Fingers. No doubt this trio had loads of fun writing and recording The Revenge of Drummy Mcsheen. Because someone enjoys doing something, doesn't mean the person on the receiving end will too—just ask any of my girlfriends.

The three members, whose real identities I don't know, are Dahk-Tore Smoldyface, Tsar-Djent Peckerhead, and Spasmodeus who respectively play guitar, bass, and drums. According to band lore (god, that hurts to write) they're beings from an alternate universe. On this album, they face off against the foe Drummy Mcsheen, an evil half human, half drum machine. The story isn't relayed through lyrics, liner notes, or the bio on the band's social media (or at least, not exclusively through those means). It unfolds every other track in skits. Spasmodeus' voice is somewhere between Bobcat Goldthwait's voice that made him famous in the 90s and his actual speaking voice. Peckerhead has a more normal voice, though like Spasmodeus, he commits the cardinal sin of voice acting: he sounds like someone putting on a voice, making it impossible to accept him as a character. He also occasionally squawks, I guess to justify performing in that felt chicken head. Smoldyface is the only one who gives a natural performance; well, as natural as can be mustered when doing stereotypical cartoon doctor/scientist voice. There is a glaring moment in “On the Run” when he doesn't nail the voice. All members have lines that demanded another take or three.

The story is nonsense. That can slide—plot is not the focus—but what's not forgivable is the laughless comedy. It's goofy randomness with only words like “dick” and “twat” and “shit” to separate it from the worst of daytime Cartoon Network. In the entirety of the album, there was one amusing line (in “Liberating Oakridge”, which I won't spoil just in case). That amusement doesn't rise to the level of a laugh, a chuckle, nor even a snort. It deserves a smile at most. Wacky comedy, in which the characters' actions can without irony be described as hijinks, may not be the worst comedy to whiff—it's not infuriating like bad social satire, nor does it inspire groans and roll eyes like bad edgy humor. We can all agree, though, it's uniquely annoying. I don't listen to metal to be embarrassed for the band. Sausage Fingers devote 25:58 of the 47:08 runtime to skits. Running the numbers: that rounds down to 55% of the album. Work went into making these. One or two actors were brought in to voice characters other than the band members. Titular character Drummy has a robotic voice, which sounds entirely synthetic, though it may be a filter—either way, it took work to make. Effort was put into gathering and inserting the sound effects, even if they're stock sounds you've heard before. (It seems out of place, but I was happy hearing the same door opening sound used in the original Doom PC game.) Knowing people toiled to make this only increases the sting of how unfunny it is.

Things do not improve in the remaining 45%. Sausage Fingers' music is fresh from the ovens of modern metal. With how chug-happy and spastic it is, it's more apt to say it's fresh from the drive-through after hours under a heat lamp. The growls have been processed for no discernible purpose but to sound more artificial. The high screams come untinkered with, but they're of the inhaled sort so popular in deathcore. There is at least one breakdown (in “Pray to the Infinite Void”), though thankfully they don't go overboard on that front. All three members have talent that rises above mere competence. Problem is they undercut any good idea they have. Adding cowbell to a blast-beat has probably been done by some other band(s), but this is the first I've heard it, and it fits with their goofy persona. So what compelled them to intersperse it with samples of Christopher Walken in that BÖC SNL clip? Ugh. Wouldn't have been funny twenty years ago. By 2016 that reference was insufferable. Halfway through the title track, we hear banter between our protagonists and the antagonist, so skipping the skit tracks won't spare you from their shenanigans. “Parasitic Infestation” changes things up with thrash riffing. I like its lo-fi sound, but it doesn't gel with the rest of the spit-shined production. Also, is that a Jew's harp twanging back there instead of bass? If that's supposed to be another kooky detail, why bury it so deep in the mix?

With his goggles, metal face-guard, and vast forehead, Smoldyface is reminiscent of Surgeon General from the Gabe Bartalos flick Skinned Deep. (A natural segue didn't present itself, but I had to bring that up somewhere.)

I don't relish bagging on this. Sausage Fingers are three guys having fun. I only chanced upon them because I was checking if Les Claypool's side project Sausage was listed on the Metal Archives. Sometimes an album is so bad, it demands to be written about. Hell, this review may make it sound so bad, you now want to listen to it. There must be fans for this sort of thing. I'm reluctant to venture who those prospective fans are. Did you leave the Plasmatics' Maggots: The Record thinking its main problem was it wasn't a thousand times worse? Maybe this is the album for you.