Tuesday 14 May 2019

The Accüsed A.D. - The Ghoul in the Mirror (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Crossover
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 10 May 2019
Sites: Facebook | Metal Archives | Official Website

I'll talk a lot in my Banco del Mutuo Soccorso review (next up) about how many surprising albums have dropped this year, but this is another one. I remember the Accüsed well from the eighties, when they were surely one of the punkiest of the thrash bands out there, pointing the way to what would be called crossover but wouldn't ever be quite as outrageous.

I really dug Blaine's vocals, as wild and untamed as they were, albeit in large part because they were wild and untamed. It's telling that the names I'd conjure up as a comparison (beyond Sid Vicious) are Gary Markovitch and George Anthony, who sang for a thrash metal band and a hardcore punk outfit respectively, Blood Feast and Battalion of Saints. Blaine was the insane middleground between those two genres at a time long before it was deemed appropriate.

What I didn't know was that he and Alex Maggot Brain weren't original band members, even though they were there when I started paying attention with the More Fun Than an Open Casket Funeral album in 1987. The bandleader was actually Tommy Niemeyer on guitar and he's kept the band going ever since founding it in 1981. In 2005, however, a year shy of a silver anniversary, the entire rest of the band left Tommy behind to form Toe Tag, which seems to have evolved into being the Accüsed A.D. After all, they included three quarters of the Accüsed and fans even prompted them to tour as an Accüsed "tribute band" called Martha's Revenge.

This is a fun album but it's wildly inconsistent, veering not just between punk and metal and back again, sometimes within the same track, but into a series of nods to classic rock. I know I'm hearing things here that aren't always deliberate, like the sliver of Armageddon that ends Prison Gig, but I'm sure that some of them are, like the Black Sabbath homage in the middle of Dirt Merchant. Why do I know the solo in Looking for the Smell?

It ought to easy to see which tracks fit on which side of that punk/metal borderline just by looking at the lengths of the tracks. The first dozen songs amount to less than half an hour between them, four of them under a minute and a half each, but they're not always the blitzkrieg punk songs. Hate Your Friends isn't Eating Teeth and vice versa. The four three minute songs aren't always the slower metal songs either.

We might think it would be safer to look at the song titles, with the more outrageous ones surely being closer to being the punk tracks. Well, Hate Your Friends is absolutely a rapid fire punk song, so much so that it feels too long at 1:29. However, A Piss Boner and a Handful of Dirty Words (and that's one song rather than two) feels akin to a band of drunks attempting instrumental NWOBHM at one in the morning.

Much of it is just the Accüsed, with songs like A Terrible Tail about all sorts of traditional material for horror movies. However, there are a few anomalies here, most obviously the five minute final track, The Comfort of Death (When Tomorrow Never Comes), another chugging Sabbath-inspired song (until it isn't), and a suitably outrageous take on Rick Derringer's Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo. Let's just say that this version wouldn't have made the charts in 1973 but in all the right ways.

I'm glad that Blaine, Steve and Alex are back under a vaguely reminiscent moniker. However, I'm even more intrigued by the fact that I hadn't known about Toe Tag at all and they knocked out a couple of albums earlier this decade, along with a slew of split releases and EPs. A lot of these bands may be coming back out of nowhere but some of them turn out to have been here throughout, just under different names.

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