Saturday, November 01, 2008

Akimbo - Jersey Shores (Neurot Recordings, 2008)

As sources of inspiration go, the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 couldn’t possibly be more metal. Powerful albums like Isis’s Oceanic (2002), Mastodon’s Leviathan (2004), Ahab’s The Call of the Wretched Sea (2006) and A Storm of Light’s And We Wept The Black Ocean Within (2008) all made waves with that theme of oceanic depths as symbolic of the unplumbed unconscious, but none of ‘em interrupted the sea’s placid depths with the real life blood ‘n guts of a bunch of great white sharks severing legs like Jersey Shores does. 33 years after Steven Spielberg rode the story’s psychological power to massive box office success with Jaws, Akimbo score with the Jersey shark attacks too. It’s a high water mark for the now decade-old trio from Seattle, as vicious and unpredictable as its subject matter.

Akimbo - "Matawan"

Forget what you know about Akimbo. Those loosely controlled, three-minute blasts of noisy post-hardcore we heard as recently as last year's Navigating the Bronze have been stretched, hardened and given ballroom-dancing lessons 'til they spill over the decks for seven-to-twelve minutes at a time. The sound of a slow-rolling tide ushers in the waltz-time rumble of "Matawan," and it doesn't take too long for the water to run red with blood. "Don't forget the tide / Her beasts dressed in blue" warns bassist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski, like he's struggling to catch his breath after running from the scene of one of the shark attacks. Nat Damm's drums froth hysterically. Aaron Walters's guitars erupt into crackling feedback. All three musicians unite for a 4/4 chomper to finish things off. 

Akimbo - "Great White Bull"

Akimbo are more beastly and disciplined than ever on Jersey Shores. "Lester Stillwell" (named after the third attack victim) surges from deep twang to explosive crush as sinuously as any noise-rock band since the mighty Drive Like Jehu; "Rogue" rams a vintage Jesus Lizard groove into a patch of Quicksand;  "Great White Bull" rocks one savage riff after another, matching the savagery of the album's final lyric: "Remember your place in this world / Mercy has no home among the waves." There's no gap between concept and execution here. Akimbo's riffs rip flesh from bone, and sleepy resort towns erupt in mass hysteria as you listen.

Sharpen your incisors at Akimbo's MySpace page.

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