By Big Joan
When Refused gave us the musical masterpiece known as "The Shape Of Punk To Come" they showed us how wonderful and amazing the scene could be. Mixing jazz, metal and techno in with their own brand of Swedish punk. Since that time no band has come close to topping that record. Big Joan however... don't top it either but they have a bloody good crack at it anyway.
"Insects and Engines" is an audio assault of the highest order. Ear-splitting yet at the same time captivating and engaging. You can't help but take pleasure in this record and its delirious sounds.
With a lead female vocalist hailing from Germany who jumps from one singing style to another almost through every track. Sometimes like P J Harvey on "Waiting for Nine" yet at another stage she's doing an impression of Mike Patton and his distorted vocals from rock outfit Tomahawk. Throw in a bit of Dennis Lyxzen, a dash of Karen O and a hint of German efficiency and you have a very captivating vocalist indeed.
Of course this isn't a one horse show. The three Englishmen who make up the rest of the band contribute, with crack-brained drumming best shown on "Here To Help" where the skins are assaulted and then viciously battered again. Then there are the mountainous bass lines that rumble through each song, at times slow and stomping other occasions as quick as a rabbit being chased by a fox on a motor bike. The guitars twist and turn, powerful chords mixed with intricate noodling, then throw in a percussionist and you get some intense intellectual punk rock. All this comes beautifully together on the phenomenal final track "Fight Song" which is a true rock masterpiece.
Uneasy, addictive, clever, loud and heavy, so much wonder crammed onto a small plastic disc.