There's a strong trend right now of bands re-emerging from the annals of history, having released precisely nothing in close to forever, with a new album as if they'd never been away. I have to admit that I never expected to add Lawnmower Deth to the growing list of such bands, but here they are in 2022 with an decent fourth album no fewer than twenty-eight years after their third in 1994. It's appropriate for me to mention here that they did release a single in 2008 and a collaborative one in 2017 with Kim Wilde, their cover of whose Kids in America was their only single back in the day.
I should also mention that an added bonus here was discovering that they'd brought Wilde out on stage for a few songs, including that one, at the Download Festival in 2016, and she returned that favour a year later at the Wilde Wild Xmas show. This stuff is all on YouTube and it's priceless. She may have been an eighties pop act but she clearly has a wilde sense of humour so all power to her for that. I never thought I'd ever watch Kim Wilde duet on stage with Qualcast Mutilator on Watch Out Granma, Here Comes a Lawnmower, let alone Egg Sandwich, but there it is. Christmas arrived early, folks.
But back to the present. This is precisely what you might expect from Lawnmower Deth, if you're a fan or even someone who's heard them at some point, so knows I'm not inventing the band out of whole cloth for a fake review. I wasn't sure if they were a joke when I ordered the Mowdeer demo in 1988—I still have the cassette and probably the cover letter too—and I saw them live that year too, opening up an indoor festival in Bradford while some random dude ate his sandwiches on the stage. They were followed by Metal Duck. I'd bought their demo too and the two bands ended up doing a split album. It was a strange time.
There are eighteen songs on offer, but the album only runs thirty-four minutes, so you know there are some really short tracks here, especially given that things wrap up with a real epic, Agency of C.O.B. running over an oddly serious four and a half minutes. There's nothing You Suffer short, but Good Morning, Phil, Space Herpes and Good Night, Bob all last under sixty seconds; Christ Options and the solid advertising genius of Swarfega run under thirty. It's Swarfega that works best here, because, like much of the best underground punk, it is precisely what it is and nothing else. Good Night, Bob is solid too, because it's blisteringly fast and then inexplicably becomes soothing ocean waves. Did Bob do a Reggie Perrin?
Longer songs for Lawnmower Deth tend to last two minutes and change, so this one's another epic at almost four minutes. The longer their songs get, the closer they get to pure thrash, with plenty of strong chugging, stronger riffs and sustained energy. On the flipside, the shorter they get, the more they shift into punk, so reminding more of DOA than Acid Reign, frantic riffs and woah woah backing vocals ruling the day. Those two minute songs mix the styles to create a more identifiable Lawnmower Deth sound, especially with the infusion of their very recognisable surreal humour. It is never more obvious than when it vanishes for Agency of C.O.B.
And, as much as I can't help but adore blink and you'll miss 'em ditties like Swarfega and I can lose myself in the guitarwork in extended ones like Raise Your Snails, the best material here is the mid-length stuff. Nothing But Noise particularly blisters, Mr. Mutilator exhibiting his best rasp and the mighty bass of Mightymow Destructimow getting quite the turn in the spotlight. I like the opener, Into the Pit too, which speaks to me, because I love the pit but, in my second half century, I'm more likely to dislocate my hip, as the lyrics suggest. I settle for keeping people safe nowadays.
If you haven't heard Lawnmower Deth before, now's a great time to dip into their world. In ours, it can seem overwhelming, because of everything that's going on right now. In times of pandemic or war or polarised chaos, Lawnmower Deth can always raise a grin and our spirits. And, apparently, snails. There's even a video for Raise Your Snails, with an overt nod to Metal Duck. Nice. Don't get me wrong. Most of this is stupid. But it's fun. And sometimes that's exactly what we need.