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Saccharine Trust - Surviving You, Always CD (album) cover


Saccharine Trust

Eclectic Prog

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3 stars Saccharine Trust's debut full-length album introduces a new rhythm section (as will every one of their albums), providing a new context for the dramatic spoken/recited singing and lyrics of Jack Brewer, and the increasingly expert guitar work of Joe Baiza. This is a very aggressively avant-punk release characterized by longer, more elaborate song structures, with emphasis on sharply defined start/stop rhythms. Brewer sounds possessed during most of the album, completely inhabiting the darkly surreal and often Biblical lyrical world he has created. Baiza sounds like he's been practicing his guitar non-stop for the three years since their prior release (their debut EP Pagan Icons).

"The Giver Takes" is about as attention-grabbing and strong an opening track as I've ever heard, and possibly their best song. Brewer shouts through his poetic rant, in time with the crazy asymmetric syncopated riffs played in unison by the band. "Lot's Seed" and "Sunk" offer more of the same, before "Speak" brings us to a more manageable groove and tempo (but just barely). "Remnants" opens with an unaccompanied Jim Morrison-like shouted recitation/sermon (reminiscent of the "petition the Lord" speech from The Soft Parade, but MUCH more profane and crazed). "The Cat.Cracker" ends side one with a relaxing breather, a rare lead vocal by Joe Baiza, a soft recitation over a groovy bass-driven atmospheric instrumental. Sounds like something off the Minutemen's Double Nickels album, but stretched out to 4 minutes with some groovy soloing. A nice track, and a welcome break from Brewer's onslaught.

Side two eases us back in to the madness with the dark, slowly unfolding 6-minute "Our Discovery". The opening minutes sound huge and majestic, with multiple voice overdubs and large ringing chords soaring over a slow, melodic bass-driven beat. Wow, this sounds like Slint's Spiderland! The second part of the song, introduced by a long Brewer scream, shifts the song abruptly back into the breakneck pace of the first few tracks on the album. A cool transition, but I can't help but wish the opening section had lasted even longer, it's soooo sweet. "A Good Night's Bleeding" and "Craving the Center" are two more short, quick tracks, and then we have the weird amorphous 6 minute monster of "YHWH on Acid", where Brewer's Biblical rants spiral into a crazed sort of delirium, as the band spins in a circular fashion around him, on and on and on. Weird track this one. The album ends with (did someone say Jim Morrison?) a cover of "Peace Frog" from the Doors' Morrison Hotel album. Brewer obviously relishes at the idea of singing lyrics like "blood in the streets, it's up to my knees", and the band plays it relatively straight and has a lot of fun, playing it with gusto.

A complex and quite inaccessible avant punk album, showing hints of the jazz-based sound that would mark their future albums, but at this point taking full advantage of the license to scream and crank it up that being in a punk band provides. This is an album you won't soon forget. It's main flaw is that too many of the songs kind of start to sound the same - like the boy who cried wolf, when you have three songs in a row that make you think the world is going to end, after a while you can't help but think, "not AGAIN." It's the moments of respite from the madness that truly set this album apart.

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Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2014 | Review Permalink

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