Harder Faster Deeper
Generally speaking these days I'm clear across the spectrum from my subject-line here: give me slow, long, grandly pulsating songs over pretty much anything else right now. But I couldn't find the Om record I wanted to write about this morning, so I decided to play the new Cretin album Freakery instead. I'd like to share my innermost feelings with you about this record, only I don't have any innermost feelings about it. I just have a gut reaction, and that reaction is "holy fuck."
The perennial problem in any genre is what to do after the extremes get exhausted. Cultrually, we Americans tend to think that the answer is "create new extremes, then exceed those!" but both De Sade and Blanchot have demonstrated that this is a losing battle: the returns don't just diminish over time, they eventually reach an absolute zero, which in itself is pretty interesting but is the exact opposite of the point toward which all extremes strive, i.e., excess. An extreme eventually satiates itself, and when this occurs in a given genre, it stagnates. As it happens, I think that a lot of the interesting stuff goes on after stagnation has set in, but that's tangential to my point here.
In metal, everything went stagnant several years ago; since then, death & black metal bands have made a few definitive albums that've completely disappeared into the void, and the genre has soldiered gamely along, production techniques becoming so codified that the difference between metal and the pop charts often seems more a matter of degree than of type. Meanwhile, grind bands keep the faith, having long ago run out of limits to transgress and lacking the genre-narrative hook that allows twice-yearly articles about death metal or black metal or metalcore bands to run in publications both indie & mainstream(o). Which is fair: Torture Killer put out an album recently that peeled paint off the walls, but what was there to say about it? "Holy shit, this smokes"?
Well: yes, actually. And so with the new Cretin, which at some points sound like Slayer's Haunting the Chapel only faster & with a little less echo effect everywhere except on the drums, where it's been - bang! - kicked up a goddamn notch. I'm pretty sure Cretin are singing about "some foul shit," to borrow a phrase from R. Kelly - "Daddy's Little Girl" seems to be about a guy who spends his college tuition on a sex change, and there's not much more you need to know about songs with titles like "Uni-Tit," "Walking a Midget," or (and here I confess ignorance, but imagination is worse than knowledge) "Cook the Cupcake." There's a good possibility that if I had a lyric sheet to hand, I'd be offended. But I don't have a lyric sheet: I just have the stereo, which sounds like it's processing old thrash records through a grind-o-matic. This is especially great when the vocalist starts howling "fuck you" (or maybe "fuck yeah") and "oh, oh, oh" at the end of "Profane," the album's last track. It doesn't break any new ground; it should surprise exactly no-one; it eschews the bright glimmer of metalcore production, yet isn't as see-how-kult-we-R about its reduced fidelity as some black metal bands I could name. On the year, I'm still holding up the new Krisiun against all enemies foreign & domestic: it has yet to get old. But Freakery is like a good eight-bit video game title, in that it's a good deal more fun than a lot of more forward-looking stuff. Over the past couple of years this has been true enough across several genres that I'm almost tempted to advance a theory about it: some correlative between a shrinking spotlight & intensity of output, maybe, only there'd have to be another axis relating specifically to genres that have already undergone one or two rise-and-fall moments. This grand unification revivalist theory of creative regeneration will have to wait, though. Listen to Cretin in the meantime. They shred like a hungry crazy dude with scissors for teeth.
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