Much like the great monster of Haitian folklore: the Zombie, music genres are forever being reanimated (though often through slick aesthetics and ludicrous marketing budgets rather than sheer magic alone). It’s fair to say that today noise-rock is banging on the front door declaring itself undead, with The Quietus recently calling out 2016 as: “The Second Summer of Hate”. But with a plenitude of second hand Jesus Lizards and flimsy Lightning Bolts it can be hard to sort the This Heats from the chaff, and whilst I find myself watching and listening to some of these reanimated walking corpses as they bore me to an early grave with their frail husks and impersonable cynicism, some thankfully creep towards me with warm blood and a pulse. When a band like that grabs a hold of you, your skin will succumb to infection and you’ll become one of them, and then you’ll find yourself bugged out to thrash-jazz while fist pumping to the beat of ‘Kernkraft 400′ – which is kind of how Godzilla Black’s brilliant third album ends and how this tenuous opening link to the review begins… ahhh symmetry!
‘Press The Flesh’ is the London quartet’s third offering after their 2010 self-titled debut and their 2013 release ‘The Great Terror’. The band have continued to channel their weirdo charm, wearing their influences (Mike Patton, John Zorn etc.) on their sleeves like a peacock wears its feathers on its arse. That perverse pride seems to have paid off though, as Press The Flesh delivers the goods as a wholesome chunk of weirdo-rock that prompts multiple listens solely for the twisted entertainment contained within.
Rising from the earth with a 6/8 swagger stating “I am a monster!/ I am a beast!” the opening track ‘The Wizard of Ooze’ is gloriously celebratory in its own ugliness, full of clanging guitars and wailing saxes that let us know what kind of beast we’re actually going to be dealing with for the next forty-five minutes. The wave surfing thrash-punk of ‘Take Me To The Countryside’ is a post-shroom Dick Dale meltdown in need of the rural retreat it sings about. ‘First Class Flesh’ climaxes tremendously in what can only be described as a black hole spurting out a cosmic orgasm of hot space fluid, leaving us drenched in steaming singularity. (I realise that none of that makes sense scientifically speaking but when the first three tracks are this good who the fuck cares?!)
‘Spaghetti’ rides in on burning horse, screaming an emulsified cacophony, which at this point reminds me that it’s worth noting how the sonic balance within Godzilla Black’s dissonant sound is actually held together brilliantly by the production on this album. John Mackenzie’s vocal wails are twinned symbiotically with Alex Nicholl’s sax lines that both flail with abandon above the percussive groove train of Matt Reid and Dan Frazer’s rhythm section, providing solid foundation for the madness of Press The Flesh.
The record takes a short rest with a mildly subdued interlude around the halfway point with the synthetic strings of ‘Tiny’ before ‘2 Votes For Dirty’ kicks our clits in once again. This track possesses a kind of haunted euphoria; the organ instrumentation here propelling the album into realms of the theatrical, the heights of which (believe it or not) had previously yet to be reached during the course of the album. It’s tightly coiled in its own seedy masochism. ‘Knock Knock’ sounds like Big Black having a word with LCD Soundsystem by the bogs at a squat party, while the wonderfully titled ‘If It Bleeds, It’s Leeds’ (great in-joke there) flirts with the skank of fellow reed-wielders Melt Yourself Down (and indeed John Mackenzie and Kushal Gaya from said band attended school together I believe).
Press The Flesh is not only great in achieving its ambitious mad capped ploys, but it delivers some superb hooks along the way: “I’m told that things are gonna change/ but they always stay the same”, dipping into playful interpolations and parodies, such as the refrain of “read all about it” (‘If It Bleeds It’s Leeds’) and “Everybody, eats some body” (‘The Other Other White Meat’ via The Blues Brothers). This is without a doubt Godzilla Black’s most focussed effort yet; it is by no means an easy listen for the most hinged of ears but for those that crave their noise spread generously on layers of groove and an emphasis on the ‘mental’ in experimentalism, this is utter satisfaction.
Oh, and that techno outro I mentioned earlier? Closing track ‘Pulse Throbber’ comes across like a Dad that’s found his way into the club at 4am, and I don’t mean the kind of Dad you find at your cousin’s wedding. This is Acid-Dad, the Dad you didn’t know about in the early 90’s, the Dad who conceived you in a muddy field while off his nut. Acid-Dad is back, and do you know what? He’s got some sick moves kid. Godzilla Black fan (and Snooker legend) Steve Davis is dropping the bangers on the 1’s and 2’s, the dancefloor empties, you can’t stop staring at your Acid-Dad, alone in the middle of the room. It’s a weird end to the night but what did you expect from one of the weirdest bands around? Infectiously weird at that.
Press The Flesh is available now for *FREE* digitally on the Godzilla Black Bandcamp, where you can also pick it up on CD!