Recorded, mixed and mastered at Audio Playground in Kinderhook, New York from July through December of 2016. Released on Paragon Records on 12 November 2018.
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“If you clear out now… and I won’t fill your ass with buckshot!” So begins this 40-minute collection of face-melting, face-lifting grind core.
Most albums I review start off in the car. I have a 45 to 60-minute drive each morning to work and so I get to listen to more than a few albums in between whatever podcast is taking my fancy that week. Whether it was because the rumble of the road beneath me was interfering with the rumble of the music, I struggled through my first through listens of this album. But once I’d moved back to my desk and could benefit from a better sound system, I began to appreciate the subtleties of the release.
In many ways the music reminds me of sitting in my friend Max’s bedroom when we were late-teens, listening to the latest, heaviest music we could beg, borrow or copy from friends on our double cassette decks.
But heavy as-can-be isn’t the entire picture. The opening and title track “Ulcer Island” (track 1) kicks off at a bone-rattling pace but slows to a bass-heavy dirge. “Czech yourself” (track 2) changes time multiple times in its short 44 seconds. “Afterbirth puzzle 2016” draws heavily on Scum-era Napalm Death.
And then there’s an almost hardcore riff beneath cookie monster vocals in the longer “Ascend to descend” (track 4). And then we’re back to Napalm Death-style repetitive phrases scratching their way through a wall of noise.
“OxyDocs” (track 6) is an almost melodic and ponderous song in comparison. It has a good pace and rhythm.
More film dialogue before almost every song… which does get a little predictable and distracting, more grinding riffs, more punishing drums and ‘you probably need some cough medicine there, mate!” vocals. The album sees itself out the way it came in. There are some nice, chunky riffs like the one that bores itself through the middle of “What does Fergus dream of?” (track 9) and “Delusions of a new age” (track 13).
And then there’s “Hell eats repetition goodbye” (track 10) which is a spaced-out, reverb-heavy, delay-tastic experimental track that is as welcome as it is unexpected.
The album closes in typical heaviness right until the end which is played out with a gentle, finger-picked guitar piece.
This was one of those albums that needed a little time and space and gentle dedication before it started to reveal itself to me. I’m glad I persevered.
Generally, I’m not one for picking and choosing tracks from an album to play in isolation. I do believe in the album as a curated piece—a carefully balanced unit of artistic expression. But with this album, I might just pick and choose a few tracks to listen to once in a while. The over-use of movie snippets got tiring quickly and there wasn’t perhaps enough innovation, or when there was and they were just getting stuck into a groove, they’d spill off somewhere else and I’d think, “Hey! I was enjoying that.”
This is what the press release had to say:
Ulcer Island is a bitter, windswept place; a desolate, decaying jumble of rocks, hidden in the sea mists. It’s all too easy to find if your footsteps through life lead you down the wrong paths and it’s all too easy to forget the way home once you’re there. It’s where Fergus dreams of frost collecting on corpses and “Sundress Skeletor” [track 7] tempts the lost with her toothless mouth and bleeding eyes. Let Buckshot Facelift take you across the water to this place of madness and despair. Become part of the story of this island asylum, breathe in the rot, walk through the filth and human detritus… just don’t miss the last boat back to shore.
Bitter and windswept, that’s definitely what this album is.
Review score: 65%
Imperative PR contacted me inviting me to preview Buckshot Facelift’s recently released album, which I was delighted about. I have no connections to either party. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Imperative PR and Buckshot Facelift.