Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Brainbombs - Obey

Brainbombs
Obey


Released 1996 on Releasing Eskimo/Slow Dance
Reviewed by Lawrence, 13/08/2009ce


I've never heard any band of the 90s match what the Brainbombs did. Period. From what I heard the band is still going strong, although I dunno if it's still the same lineup... (If I ever get the new album I'll probably find out...) Of course one of the enigmatic things about this band is that they don't list credits or any information about themselves, although I hear they have some connection to a fellow Swedish band by the name of Totalitar.

But the thing that really sets this band apart is not only that the musicianship is brilliant, but that they have no redeeming value whatsoever(!) It's rock 'n roll at it's most primal and destructive -- what your parents feared in such music. Think Rolling Stones circa Exile on Main Street crossed with an even more stripped-down Raw Power by the Stooges, along with the more anarchic moments from the Swans, topped off by the writings of De Sade and Peter Sotos and yr halfway there... It's "Horror-Punk" except inspired by "Last House on Dead End Street" rather than "Teenage Frankenstein" or whatever...

Their third album starts off deceptively innocuous with what sounds like jazzy video-game music of some sort, but gets shattered by a devastating discordant riff, with what could be a manifesto of some sort. "If you have the fucking power, then use it to kill them all!"

Again the amazing thing about the band is the musicianship, although the songs are not songs as much as they could be called loops in a way -- mostly a series of tight grooves that threaten to fall apart and often do. The drummer has a particularly nimble touch here, but can kick out the jams just as John Bonham can... The guitars manage to sound incredibly sick and brutal, pretty much adding to the theme, but even when they restrain it a little (as they do on "Anal Desire") the effect is still quite disturbing. Some stray trumpet fades in and out from time to time... As for the vocals, it's not singing as much as speaking in a Swedish accent, but somehow it still works in the overall musical fabric, so to speak...

But the playing's extremely good -- they seemed to have studied rock 'n roll right down to its blues/country roots. Witness their stab at gritty urban funk on "Drive Around", which if you weren't paying any attention to the vocals you'd swear you were listening to early Funkadelic's darker moments... Likewise their take on southern rock with the track "To Hurt" is stupendous, with some of the best slide-guitar East of the Atlantic.

Of course the album closes with a totally repellent track that's a noisy, discordant mess, although that drummer still manages to keep it together which is (again) amazing... Probably this band isn't for everyone's taste, but if you like good rock 'n roll and at the same time appreciate what Whitehouse does, then this is for you.


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