The Flesh Eaters CD reviews [Atavistic]

Music Reviews
The Flesh Eaters CD reviews [Atavistic]
Feb 17, 2004, 03:48



The Flesh Eaters' Miss Muerte is densely packed with sexy, bad-assed no-nonsense rockin' which is exactly the stuff seldom mongered nowadays. A lot of songs are written in that bluesy, somewhat psychedelicized garage-rock style (ala 13th Floor Elevators) from whence spring the slightly divergent streams of Stooges and MC5 which eventually ran back together in the basic vocabulary of “punk” rock. Some of the tracks find the Fleshies more in line with the sorta bristling, electrified folk early Mott The Hoople traded in. BOTH these modes are far and away preferable to deracinated, bright, cheery, utterly suburban boojie boy claptrap that's plastic wrapped as punk in the 21st century.

The charms of Miss Muerte's writing are properly displayed—nay heightened—by rough 'n' tumble treatment via the double barreled guitar assault o' Don Thomas and Bobby Bones. They erect a splutterly, shrieking, careening hurricane fence of cross-cut sawings and furious lead riffery which is all lovingly contradicted by lead singer Chris D's unapologetically verbose, literate lyrical sense and unmistakable vocal stylings: dramatic, thoroughly frantic and often fairly incomprehensible. His stylization is then further underlined by returning Divine Horsemen alumna Julie Christensen whose singing is even more melodramatic and brazenly rococo (a few tricks no doubt learned when she toured as one of Leonard Cohen's back-up singers).

Miss Muerte was released in conjunction with a deluxe re-issue of The Flesh Eaters' debut, No Questions Asked, spiffed up with ten bonus tracks. A cursory listen might lead you to believe the repertoire is sequenced in chronological order from earliest to latest. The collection starts with Chris D sounding incredibly conventional and the least himself—and D's rubbery, theatrical yowling is one the most instantly recognizable vocal signatures in rock, bar none. But on the opening tracks D's singing is tugged this way and that by various au courant vocal conventions of the day: cod British accents, comic book cutesiness, standard issue “punk” sneer-ology. At the same time the instrumental parts are desperately tinny, all gimpy double-quick identi-kit thrashing. Not bad per se but decidedly pro forma. As you proceed, you start finding a decent number of cuts where Chris finally finds his voice and then fully commands it—all primal and fluid and frantic—and the band in hot pursuit, blasting proto-punk terminal whitey blues as best as anyone ever has. By the end of the album you've got Flesh Eaters in their prime. Funny thing is that the album is actually in REVERSE chronological order! So we're looking at a classic case of aesthetic DE-evolution. The punch line is that by the third album, the Flesh Eaters re-attained that perfect thing they stumbled on at the git-go, locked in and to never let go of again. All rise. [Atavistic]

-Howard Wuelfing

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