By Revenge of The Psychotronic Man
Revenge of the Psychotronic Man's second full length is fourteen tracks of short, sharp and to the point punk, with not a single song stretching past the two minute mark. While there's a predominance of galloping drums, racing guitars and shouty vocals, Revenge of the Psychotronic Man put a distinctive twist on every track, so 'Make Pigs Smoke' isn't just the same one minute-odd of clattering noise, played over and over again.
Album-opener 'I Durst Venture South' eases us in with twelve seconds of chuggy guitars and revving-up drumbeats, before it slams the pedal to the metal and makes a dash for the one-minute-and-twenty-seconds finish line. The thick, snotty vocals are completely unintelligible, and the guitar and drum racket is in constant danger of becoming equally incoherent. However, Revenge of the Psychotronic Man snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, thanks to euphoria-inducing, "whoa-whoa-oh-oh" backing vocals.
'Needless To Say' follows in 'I Durst Venture South's footsteps and tempers the bristling riffs, blastbeat drumming and shouty main vocals with melodic backing vocals that turn 'Needless To Say' into a riotous punk rollercoaster. Any song that's this fast and angry, shouldn't be quite so catchy. Revenge of the Psychotronic Man are one of the rare DIY punk bands, who know the worth of a good hook.
And it's vocals that once again provide the crucial hook, on the inexplicably titled 'cosmopolitan.horse.tit.' Blastbeat drumming and churning riffs may destroy any semblance of rhythm, but the clean, more carefully articulated main vocals, pull the listener in. You can even almost work out what dual vocalists Matt and Andy are snarling about. Almost.
But, that's more than can be said for 'Mine's A Pint.' This song must surely set a world record for fastest vocals. The vocals somehow manage to outstrip the lightening drumbeats and flat-out riffs, and you'll find it difficult to believe they haven't been tampered with. Presumably, they haven't, and Revenge of the Psychotronic Man can jabber as quick as they can play. That a song can be this tight and this fast, is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
It seems like Revenge of the Psychotronic Man have taken things down a notch, with the bass-heavy shimmy of 'Blackpool Rock.' However, twenty seconds in and the band can contain themselves no longer, launching into a mad dash, with whiplash-inducing vocals that build to a vitriol-soaked, snarling climax.
TNS Records' flagship tune (if the banners and logos adorning their webpages are anything to go by) 'Mainstream Music Is Shit' roars past like a runaway train, casting off waves of frenetically pulsing chords that'll have your fingers throbbing in sympathy, as well as grinding, abrasive riffs that gnash and bristle and lend that extra bit of character to this song's headlong plunge.
'Felch Death Fuck Storm' initially seems like a re-treading of 'Mainstream Music Is Shit,' tearing along with only the occasional burst of spasmodic riffing breaking its stride. However, halfway through 'Felch Death Fuck Storm' changes tract, with groovier riffs and drums that bounce along, rather than whizz by. Revenge of the Psychotronic Man seem to be aware that, while flat-out punk is entertaining, no-one wants to sit and listen to fourteen songs of speed and noise. There has to be some variety, and they take pains to tweak the formula for every song.
On first listen, 'Bouncing Back' may be about as stereotypically punk as it gets, but repeat listens reveal positive lyrics, of the sort you don't usually encounter in this brand of punk. After all, when was the last time you heard bristling, breakneck riffs, galloping drums, and a vocalist enthusing "maybe we should try and be more positive / I know that we got it pretty good"?
Another example of lyrical content giving a song a clearer identity, is 'Tramp Rape.' Peppered with bizarrely enthusiastic cries of "tramp rape! Tramp rape!" and hand-clapping sound effects, this song has its tongue wedged firmly in its cheek, and it's all the better for it.
Revenge of the Psychotronic Man's efforts to keep their DIY-punk clatter sounding fresh, is helped along by a mid-album interlude, in the form of fantastically titled 'I Know A Cracking Owl Sanctuary.' Rollicking along to a carnival beat of scratchy guitars and bouncy drumbeats, 'I Know A Cracking Owl Sanctuary' has something of a ska vibe. Even when a screeching riff is layered over the top, this song sounds absolutely nothing like the rest of the album, and is a perfectly-placed pallet refresher, before it's back to good times, cider-drenched punk, with the rasping riffing of 'The Fuck It Button.' Alternating between Revenge of the Psychotronic Man's usual churning riffs and snappy drumbeats, and passages of ticking percussion, 'The Fuck It Button' is one song where the music ricochets almost as violently as the main/backing/gang/solo vocals.
'donkey.yeast.infection' has a bass-heavy instrumental introduction, where the measured drumbeats and classier riffs, together with the bass, give this song a poised, darker vibe. This vaguely brooding introduction then revs into a riotous, gang vocal-splattered clatter. Revenge of the Psychotronic Man are clearly masters of putting out the same thing time and time again, with just enough of a twist to prevent it from sounding stale.
The only time they really come close to turning out an identikit punk song, is with the forty-eight second long 'Bitter Bastards.' It's fast and shouty, and on its own it would be an incendiary track, but the problem is that the rest of this album is just as good, but comes with a distinctive, extra twist. In context, 'Bitter Bastards' is one of 'Make Pigs Smoke's weakest offerings.
Album-closer 'Drop Dead' administers a final shot of vitriol with vocals that gnash harder than any other on this album, bringing matters to a sneering finish.
'Make Pigs Smoke' is fourteen snippets of headlong punk that hover around the one minute mark. If you like your punk fast, then you'll have trouble finding a band who can churn out the noise faster than this Manchester three-piece, but it's also surprisingly melodic, and always impressively tight. This eighteen minute long, fourteen track effort, is the very definition of short, sharp and to the point.