Thursday, October 11, 2012

Album Review: Sexgender - "Transgenital"

So this morning I checked my email and I found one from a Mr. Austyn Sullivan. Ausytn is the drummer to a Baltimore, MA based hardcore punk and noise rock band called Sexgender. He asked kindly if I could review his band's first album and their split with their friends in Baklavaa. Someone asked me to review their band's album. Wow. Look at me, moving up in the music reviewing world!

Egotistical ravings aside, I gave Sexgender's debut, Transgenital a listen and I'll call it as I hear it.

"This is disgusting. It's pornography... No. No. No. This is beautiful. This is art." -- J.R. Hayes
Honestly, this is one of my first experiences with noise music and punk this experimental and avant-garde. I've listened to some Merzbow tracks here and there, but not much more. That being said, I didn't find Transgenital to be too overpowering as far as the noise part of their music went. There's tons of screeching guitar and feedback, especially on the opening track "Knifetie", but the feedback especially shows up all over the place on this album. At first, because it was hella-fuckin' early, the screeching was annoying, but after I gave the album a couple listens through, it really started to grow on me.

The guitar playing in general on Transgenital is well done. Aside from the feedback, the riffs are pretty catchy and sometimes remind me of riffmaestro Scott Hull's brilliant guitar parts. The distorted guitar tone is thick, crusty, and crushing. The drumming is impressive too. Blast beats show up occasionally on the album, most memorably on the track "The Phallus". Alongside the wailing guitar, the drums really make it seem like the music is about to fall apart.Rhythms disassemble and reassemble as the music twists, turns and slithers, but the music really gets going once the drums lock into a groove. The playing is still loose and fluid, but things get driven forward powerfully.

The last thing I want t touch on is the vocals. The vocals seem either to be under reverb or echo (possibly both?) and sound like commands pouring out of a megaphone. I feel like under any other musical context, making all of the vocals on an album sound like this wouldn't be the wisest choice, but with Sexgender's wall of sound approach to music, the vocals fit perfectly over top.

Production is rough around the edges, but honestly, for music like this, I wouldn't want it any other way. The only gripe I have with this album, and it may just be my inexperience with the genre, is lack of dynamics. On Transgenital, things are always loud all the time. It's like they wrote their music in caps lock. I'd like to hear some quieter or maybe even more ambient passages on their next release, just to break up all of the constant, aggressive noise. That being said, this album only runs for less than 20 minutes, so it's very manageable to digest the entire album in one sitting, even for non-noise rock listeners such as myself.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Christs and Queers, The Phallus

On a Playlist With: Converge, Pig Destroyer (Prowler in the Yard)

Overall Score

3.5 (That's 3.5 out of 5, a "Good" if anybody doesn't know how my scale works)

I've got to say, I enjoyed Transgenital. Sexgender have made a chaotic flurry of crusty punk and noise to beat the shit out of your ears. It's less a wall and more of an electric barbed wire fence of sound. Again, I'd like to see some variation in their music next time, but this is their debut album, so they've got plenty of room to grow. I was also asked to review their split with Baklavaa, but it's midterm season in university, so I'm not sure when I'll be able to get around to that.

You can listen to and download Transgenital on the band's Bandcamp page. You can check 'em out and find tour dates on their Facebook page here.

That's all for now, folks!


1 comment:

  1. Pretty cool that you're becoming well-known enough to be sought out to review!! I think I'll have to give this one a pass with your description of loose rhythm and feedback. Definitely not my type of music. (it's not the genre, either... some jazz that is totally fluid annoys me for the same reason. I like to hear a clear, steady beat.)