Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mark of Cain- Songs of the Third and Fifth

Believe it or not, I've got friends.  I guess I can be interesting from time to time. So, my friend, Jonathan sent me some nice Vinyl. I think the theme was Henry Rollins. I got the "Let there be rock" double EP that ol' Hank did with the Hard Ons, The Bruce! LP, and this LP by The Mark of Cain that Hank helped make.
So, why do I want to just discuss this one right now? Because it was the newest to me. ( Jonathan, believe it or not, upon listening to Bruce, I had heard them before. I know, impossible, right? My friend Annette  is a fan, she lives in Wollongong, and was a huge fan of Motorhead, Girlschool, and Saxon back in the eighties- she tried to get me into them. I liked 'em, but not 30 AUD liked 'em. That's not to say I'm inspecting the gift horse's teeth, it's to say I've already put a saddle on it. It is good stuff, especially Mr Armstrong's voice which reminds me of George's voice in Tona. )
So, Mark of Cain are Australian, and that's a point in their favor. Seriously, even Hunters and Collectors get that point. But, the references to late 1980's and early 1990's non-grunge hard Alternative rock is an even stronger point in their favor. Mentioning Big Black's "Bad Houses" whilst grunting out a Rick Boston Low Pop Suicide speak-sing, over a stuttering mathy Helmet beat? Yeah, that seals the deal, right there, and that's track one. Add the creeping militarism in the images and lyrics, and I'm in deeper. Of course I like the bass- I think everybody likes that bass sound ( detuned, mixed with extra treble so the notes are low, but you hear all the surface noise) but I want to point your attention on how the guitar is both obviously staccato, but less obviously legato- notationally, it must look like morse code, three notes legato, with the swoop, and then dot for the staccatissimo, constantly. It reminds me of pre- AmRep midwestern noise rock, like Big Black, Breaking Circus, Man Sized Action and so on. If this is too obscure, I apologize. Basically, I'm saying that they don't sound like Helmet as much as they sound like the guys who inspired Helmet, and Interpol and most of the noise rock since. People mention  Joy Division, but what about the Effigies? I hear more Effigies than I hear Joy Division. Heck, I hear more Red Lorry Yellow Lorry than I hear Joy Division. But, yeah, the whole package- dark military imagery, mixed with super precision sharp noise rock? Yeah, this would've been excellent in Chicago, circa 1986. Now, in 2013? It's awesome to hear that sound carried on. Oh and the duet with Hank? I know why Henry likes this band-Grey 11 is what Henry would've liked to see out of the Rollins band about 1997.

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