OK, a bit of a lesson in rock history. Well, by “lesson” I obviously mean “completely partial and somewhat half-baked theory put together by me for the purposes of reviewing an album,” but at least it’s not like double geography or something, on a sunny day, when you have to squint at a map of Haverfordwest for an hour and a half until you feel like marching off to the careers teacher’s office and telling him you’ve decided that what you absolutely, more than anything want to become is a dictator who can have the whole place annexed and the inhabitants butchered before having it removed from all maps, books or other sources such as might be used by particularly cruel geography teachers. (Note- if anyone from Haverfordwest is actually reading this, please don’t judge me too harshly- email me and I’ll tell you who my geography teacher was. It’s them you should be enacting bloody vengeance on, not me).
No, this is nothing like that. For a start, instead of population density and industry, it starts with celebrity golfer Alice Cooper. As all good lessons should. There’s some debate, but really there isn’t, so let’s just agree that Mr Cooper was the first person to combine rock music with horror movies. Either way, his template was to prove the most influential. The Cramps took it to the beach and made it surf, Rob Zombie took it to the swamps and trailer parks and gave it a chainsaw, and Marilyn Manson took it to church and made it get its nob out. But perhaps the oddest was Alien Sex Fiend. On a budget of nothing (hence no surfing or powertools), Nik and Mrs Fiend took it back to a filthy London squat, gave it loads of acid and made it poo in a bucket. And the results were gloriously psychedelic, scatological, scary and really fucking funny. Somehow existing in the space between goth and punk while actually being a lo-fi electro outfit, ASF were really quite unique. And then all the goths and punks stopped doing acid and started popping pills, and ASF ended up doing the same crusty techno as anyone else, but with Nik Fiend over the top. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t bad, not by a long shot, but it had kind of lost that unique Fiendiness that made us love them.
So I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Death Trip. Which made it even more awesome when it turned out to be what really dull music journalists would refer to as “a return to form,” but I’ll settle for calling “Nik breaking into someone’s garage, beating the fuck out of them with a spanner and reclaiming his stolen mojo. And then giving it tons of acid and making it poo in a bucket.” It’s scary, sordid, cheap, and loads of fun. Just looking at the track titles says it all- “Land Of The Living Dead;” “Beyond A Psychic Evil;” “The Hills Have Eyes”- Nik’s gone back to the halcyon days of the “video nasty” and by crikey it’s good. Squidgy electronics, eminently pogoable beats, and of course Nik’s brain-fried vocals tying the whole thing together.
Perhaps the funniest track is “BBFC,” in which Nik renames the British Board of Film Classification, responsible for making a decade’s worth of classic horror movies nigh-impossible to get hold of back in the pre-internet days of VHS (and even Betamax) as “bastard bastard fucking cunt”. Repeatedly. And it somehow sounds like Atari Teenage Riot covering Shonen Knife‘s “Giant Kitty,” or something equally as unexpectedly awesome.
This is the point where I should really trot out some old cliché about “returning from the grave,” or possibly try to crowbar in some appalling pun about “returning from the rave,” but I’d rather not, thank you very much. So I’ll just go and poo in a bucket again. While listening to this album, which you really should get. ‘Tis the season after all, but remember- a Fiend is for life, not just for Hallowe’en.
-Deuteronemu 90210. Eventually-