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Track Side Fire
Walnut And Leather
TODD are back! Two years after the release of 'Comes To Your House' (Southern Records) and countless shows of hysteric noise and chaos worldwide they now deem the world to be ready for the next chapter… and their finest moment yet!
A slight line-up change, enough songs written for a triple album (and then disgarded as not being good enough!), a new studio and a new label (Riot Season) have all led to the band now becoming a tighter deal altogether. After a kiss and a hug from Southern, TODD felt the time had come to go it alone. They retreated to their island studio and began to strip everything back yet always keeping in mind what playing music meant to them. Slowly the songs began to come. Bursts of noise played over and over again until they began to take shape. Recorded 'in the red' in two days, mixed in a week then realised fully back at the mysterious TODDranch, "Big Ripper" was ready. It needed a home and only one home came to mind. Through a gentleman's agreement the deal with Riot Season was done. The rest will be history.
balance of riffs, noise and magic is now even more astonishing while
keeping the same intensity and beauty as they've always had. "Big
Ripper" is an absolute killer on all levels. From the machine gun
fire of 'Arista Disco' to the wall shaking 'Happy Easter Florida' via
the super heavy 'The Rub' and the drugged despair of 'French and in
France', TODD have mastered their art, blown it apart and started again.
Formed in 2001, London-based heavy doom / grind quartet Todd lay claim to being one of the thickest and sludgiest bands currently operating out of the UK capital, with their fusion of punishing wall-of noise guitar distortion and neck-breaking drums placing them in the esteemed company of fellow volume abusers Part Chimp and Pissed Jeans. Five years on from the release of 2005’s Comes To Your House on Southern Records, this third album Big Ripper sees Todd making the move over to Riot Season, home of Black Boned Angel and Acid Mothers Temple. Opener ‘Track Side Fire’ pretty much drops the listener straight into the middle of the storm, with snarled, barely intelligible vocals and slamming tribal drumming fusing like a concrete slab with sludgy guitar riffage that pretty much doesn’t shift out of the red the entire time, even as things suddenly drop down into a kaleidoscopic plummet through digitally manipulated guitar harmonics. There’s a brief respite in the form of a hissing background tape noise outro, but it’s shortlived before ‘Happy Easter Florida’ arrives to smash the listener more or less in the face with its relentless blast of thundering metal drums, Stooges-esque monotonous proto-punk guitar chug and distorted, howled vocals calling to mind the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes wired up on some particularly scary amphetamines as the entire mix heads towards saturated flameout.
On that note, it’s worth noting the particularly ‘distressed’ quality of the overall sound mix here. With the guitar tracks continually reaching into the red and the drums frequently sounding as though they were recorded from the next room, you’re left with 13 distortion-damaged tracks that resemble those huge armoured trucks in ‘Mad Max’ that get shot up and set on fire, yet somehow manage to keep going. While there’s a continual illusion of pure chaos going on, a closer look reveals just how tight Todd are as players. ‘Black Gold’ illustrates this perfectly; while on the surface its lunatic vocal howls and corrosive guitar riffage drift drunkenly all over the place, focusing on a single hi-hat beneath the turmoil reveals the almost surgical precision ticking away beneath the hood. For the unwary, there’s also the odd moment of unexpectedly gentle beauty on offer amidst the flames – see ‘The (R)Wub’s chiming guitar harmonic outro section and ‘Julie B’s employment of almost Lynyrd Skynrd-esque bluesy guitar bends. In the end, you’re left with an album that beneath its deceptively lunkheaded exterior continually reveals new lofi detail with each listen, making ‘Big Ripper’ easily one of the heaviest highlights of my year so far. Brilliant and brutal.
Todd’s first release in a couple of years is a giant sludgy beast, a collapsing timber mill of a record that the jaunty lumberjack on its sleeve can’t even hope to prepare you for. They’ve always been fearsomely loud, and sleazily proud, but this might just be the album on which they really got it together. It’s got the noise, distortion, mayhem and feedback that’ll be all too frighteningly familiar to any previous listeners, but on Big Ripper it’s wrapped up in an unexpectedly new and thoughtful package.
The album spends much of its time screaming into your brain and piling up freakish glimpses into a selection of dark places, but there is real structure and, dare I say it, artistry at work here. First track ‘Track Side Fire’ has an actual middle eight, and an almost conventional song structure, for example. ‘The (R)web’, as another case study, adds real texture and breaks down into a weird, random set of echoed notes, like honest-to-goodness proper experimental music. By the time we reach ‘French and in France’, a strange, slow-paced lurch of a song, echoed guitars and feedback squalls dropping in before disappearing away into a hallucinogenic struggle against noise, it suddenly becomes clear what’s going on here. Todd are traditional hard rock filtered through today’s post-everything musical landscape, slammed up against a wall of alcohol, drugs and unhealthy interests. They crunch and rock like violent thugs, but they’ve got hearts of black gold and dangerous, sharp brains ticking over on their collective back burner. Final track ‘French and out of France’ is the flipside to mayhem – a creepy, relentless, distorted stalker’s presence, that burrows into the floor as a final, belching digital pulse leading into silence. It’s a fittingly intense and confusing end to an album that refuses to ever do what you’d expect.
People with loose sphincters ought to watch for the bass notes on ‘The R(Wub)’ or at least stock up on Tena Lady pants. Big Ripper is a fearsome cacophony of sludge metal, a set of tectonic plates of distorted noise rubbing against each other until they ejaculate earthquake hardcore over the world. I’m no fan of metal, though I can listen to the avant-noise that Foetus, Sonic Youth, Liars and the like have produced. So I suffered much of Big Ripper but appreciated the rhythmic patterns in ‘Between Them Two Roundabouts’, wondered whether the namesake of ‘Julie B’ actually appreciated the grinding pain inflicted in her name, and applauded the druggy experimentalism of ‘French and in France’ which dares to play with pulsing sound. This is one to keep under lock’n’key apart from when you want to pursue a feud with the neighbours but even as a metalphobe there are bits that I can recognise as good and inventive. Just don’t make me listen again.
it’s marie curie idly wondering where that lump came from.
it’s blue cheer trapped inside the bloated bile-filled belly of shit and shine, trying to chew their way out.
it’s gene hackman in the poseiden adventure screaming why god why.
it’s the precise moment of solitary ejaculation when the door opens unexpectedly.
it’s phil spector, a blonde and a handgun in the same room.
it’s christopher reeves getting on his horse. one. last. time.
it’s that big red button that says do not press.
it’s morricones diseased baws scratching greasily against yr forehead.
it’s uncleanliness being next to ungodliness.
it’s helios creed spewing from eyehatgod’s heroin-scarred erection.
it’s the one last tumultuous drink that’ll almost certainly lead to something unsavoury.
it’s the fifth generation vhs copy of two cocks one ass refusing to eject from the vcr.
it’s alice with the pills and the bottle and the cat-killing curiosity.
it’s the pain of forced continuous engorgement.
it’s john belushi’s indistinguishable last months.
it’s an anonymous phone call at four in the morning hinting vaguely at sexual violence.
it’s vince neil saying hey, i’m fine to drive.
it’s the hantavirus in crotchless panties.
it’s the forced death march of dio-era sabbath.
it’s cobain staring impermeably at his shotgun.
it’s the inexorable veer of pigeons towards fresh vomit spatter.
it’s taking an actual proper song and rubberfisting it to within an inch of it’s cum-sodden life.
it’s going offensively with palsied stumps for eyes balls and throat.
it’s a girl in sadistic heels, two in the morning careering wetly down blythswood street.
it’s the freeze frame before butch and sundance get gunned to hell.
it’s iranian students gathering outside the us embassy on november fourth nineteen seventy nine.
it’s marlon brando overamplified and reaching for the butter.
it’s god shaking david yow in a box full of overblown instruments.
it’s hysterical drunks with guns and amphetamines in slow motion.
it’s oj wondering where nicole is.
it’s the brief damp haze of post-vomit mayhem clarity.
it’s desperately searching for an explanation for the lightbulb lodged in yr ass.
it’s someone floating in barrymores pool.
it’s picking at the afterbirth of a half-healed scab.
it’s dickie peterson’s corpse dug up and dripping with pure cthulhuan evil.
it’s forever teetering on the edge, on the cusp, the brink of falling spectacularly apart but somehow never succumbing to the powerful pull of that gravity bitch.
it’s thirteen gaudy tumours of meaty assault.
it’s big ripper.
There’s something to be said for music so epic, grandiose and spectacular that its purpose is only to serve itself and for people to marvel at it. It’s selfish, but it doesn’t really care. While reviewing an album by piano-led electro outfit Aufgang recently, it certainly seemed a prime candidate for just being an album made for the sole purpose of satisfying its creators indulgences, holding no real significance and annoying the listener as much as enthralling them. It’s pretty pretentious stuff, and that’s where Todd come in. Big Ripper, their second album is a cacophony of messy rock riffs, headache-inducing drums and nonsense wails that serves no purpose than to seemingly make the four, grizzly men that make up the band smile their backsides off. They themselves might love what they do, which is pretty good because hardly anyone else will.
Big Ripper is a dirty album. What’s more, it doesn’t care that its a dirty album. It hangs out around the back of school doing its own thing away from the cool albums, and loves it like that. Subsequently, every time you wish that a vocal wail wouldn’t be so raspy and incomprehensible, or that the guitars wouldn’t produce so much feedback, it’ll just come back en force in the next song and annoy you further. Why? Because Todd don’t care about you, dear listener. Why would they? They sound like they’re having too much fun with their raucous, muddy rock ‘n roll. The riffs are the size of continents, the drums are akin to being beaten in the face by ten bears at once and the vocals are like listening to a choir of drunken beggars at 4am. Yet for all of its faults, you can never really hate Todd. They might assault your ears with reckless abandon but they do it with such an unflinchingly energetic attitude that you end up with some genuine respect for them. They’re making incessantly difficult music to listen to, but they seem to be enjoying themselves, so who am I to judge them? As a result, whilst every other aspect of Big Ripper may languish in the lower depths of a musical grading system, I’ll happy give Todd an A+ for effort. All hail the anti-cool!
Todd play raw, disjointed noise rock that, I think, its fair to compare to Karp, although the recording is much rawer. I admit that on first listen I wasn’t over the moon about this. I remember thinking that there were a few storming tracks (the sludgy ‘Walnut And Leather’ in particular) but that quite of a lot of the others fell pretty flat. I’ve listened through a good few times now and I’ve changed my mind to a pretty large extent.
Not every track is spot-on, sure, but the album’s lows are fewer and less severe than I had initially thought. I do still have my reservations about the atonal plucking, ‘solos’ and less aggressive passages scattered around. When they’re battering right into a song and there is a huge wall of noise, it really works, and I didn’t enjoy anything interrupting that too much. This is rad, though, and anyone into noise-rock should be all over it. Good stuff!
Although it may have appeared that London’s TODD had fallen into a bit of a slumber, they had in fact been holed up in a studio for a good amount of time. They certainly fooled me, as I’d almost considered them among the deceased; however it got me more than a fair bit of excited to start seeing hints of a new forthcoming TODD album being tossed out onto the web. Sure enough, two months later and here they are with their new album Big Ripper, which has just been released on CD through the fantastic Riot Season label with a limited vinyl release scheduled shortly in the future (which is up for pre-order now for those looking to get in on that).
The follow up to the bands ’06 album Comes to Your House gets straight to the point by delivering several gut punching bursts of noise upon pushing play. You don’t see too many bands that become rawer into their discographies, but TODD has pushed the levels up a few notches and settled into a much harsher and trebly sort of noise. Before you know it really, eight or nine tracks have flown by and the album begins to mutate into a ball of pounding riffs while continuously being rubbed down in various effects and of course much much distortion. It’s gross, vile, and pretty much everything anyone could have wanted out of another TODD record. It’s good to see this getting a vinyl release too, as it appears to be a record that is fit for two sides.
BUILT ON A WEAK SPOT
Now Todd, I don’t know what you’ve been up to for the last few years but we need to have a word.
When you record an album see, you conventionally pay for recording equipment. And mastering. And then if you’ve got any change you get some Listerine for that sore throat of yours.
But Big Ripper is taking the piss. When there are any discernible noises that may or may not be vocals, it sounds like the microphone is wedged somewhere down Craig’s lower respiratory tract and he’s in immense discomfort. When a guitar starts producing sound, it sounds like it’s being amplified by a blown amp leant against an adjoining wall three doors down. Hell, even when there isn’t any music to be heard, it sounds like your consciousness is being attacked by a swarm of mechanical wasps…
Sure, the lo-fi quality kind of captures the bands live… sound? And hot diggity goddamn, Todd are a band whose sole purpose in life could well be to give their audience simultaneous tinnitus and erections. But it really gets in the way of this album flowing together or ever feeling like more than a massed collection of demos and jams. Or at least it certainly does for the first few listens.
Because lurking under all that noise, distortion and sheer fuckedupness are some things resembling ‘tunes’; it’ll possibly take several sets of earphones and indeed eardrums to locate them, but they are present. The warped ‘Black Gold’, with its howled screams, is impressively raucous and succinct, the Part Chimp-esque sludgy breakdowns of ‘The (R)Wub’ are wonderfully strewn out and the bass strings on ‘French and in France’ resonate and reverb to form a heroin user’s doom death march. And it’d be wrong to overlook the sheer normality of ‘Hard Life’, with its downright badass riffs and Seventies sounding vocals.
Big Ripper is a flawed record, but crucially it's one that doesn’t compromise. Indeed that unique inability to play it easy has always been what makes Todd so special; and I suspect the already initiated would be gutted if this record was an ‘easy listen’. But it’s so far beyond the aforementioned point on the scale that even your average Pissed Jeans or Hunches fan is going to think their hi-fi (or mind) has blown.
With every subsequent listen it gets that bit more ingrained into the old grey matter and patterns begin to spiral out of the fuzzy afterbirth forming an intriguing and dense fog of rich sound. It’s just a question of who is mentally up to the task of wading through it to find them.
DROWNED IN SOUND
Don’t let the cartoon lumber jack on the album sleeve fool you with its kaleidoscopic range. Once you wiggled your feet into Todd’s sound immediately you’re sent into a swirl of distorted riffs, smash-a-cymbal-to-tiny-shards drumming with openers ‘Track Side Fire’ and ‘Happy Easter Florida’- yes they try it on with the soft track titles too. A barrage of moans, spasmodic yelps like a man just waking up after being shot with a tranquilizer is the acidic bomb blast your ears hasn’t to withstand from Craig Clouse’s throaty discernable vocals. It’s a threat to ones senses, lets not dance around this fact. But these London noisy doom merchants have a devout following, and unfortunately this may not swell due to the records coarse nihilistic aesthetics. It lapses into instrumental rehab for a while in the form of ‘France And IN France’ to allow some of your tortured senses to repair. But for the mean, this is Todd at their most psychotically abrasive, in this, their third offering and at the tail end they let rip the tune of the album punk-ridden ‘France And Out Of France’. However, from the outside, this is a very intriguing listening don‘t let me deter you. The murky depths of Todd are well worth a meander, just be sure to take protection.
If it was 1995, and The Quietus was a weekly newsstand music publication, it's possible that this third album by London quartet Todd would fall into the reviewing hands of someone giddy with the excitement of shiny-shoes British guitar pop making an hooraying resurgence. How fearsomely outré for a British band to be in thrall to the noisy machismo of American underground rock when The Bluetones have made the sun come out a little longer, they might lament, before concluding their review with a sort of pun, something like "Over-amped and over here. 4/10."
In reality, this period in evolutionary history found Craig Clouse in a couple of bands – Crown Roast from Austin, Texas and Hammerhead from North Dakota – who may be remembered by few outside of the most dusty-lunged nerd-punk vinyl hoarders, but who both offered a forceful, almost sadistic take on the twisted metal and skeletal arrangements that categorised American noiserock/proto-grunge/pigfuck/other genre name of debatable relevance. When Clouse moved to London in the late 90s, his taste for this sort of battery had not evaporated; he assembled Todd in the capital in 2001 and, from 2003-05, released a self-titled EP and two albums that were each a mightier work than the last. Then, having spent four years releasing a few singles, taking a back seat to Clouse's other band Shit&Shine and sort of splitting up, Big Ripper (sleeve adorned with an appropriately incongruous Hanna-Barbera-lookin' lumberjack dude) just dropped doodlebug style and the second wave of Britpop got totally mangled under some rubble. I think. I didn't hear any today anyway. So yeah, that's why Todd sound like an American band.
The CD, at least the copy I have here, is mixed at an oddly low volume – the unfailing muddiness of the murk lets you know that everything was in the red at some point, but you really do have to wrench it up to get Big Ripper going at a Todd-justifying volume. (Maybe it's on some level a suggestion that you should be buying the vinyl, like how Big Black's Songs About Fucking not only sounds like pish in digital form but has a message hinting at such printed on the CD itself.) This niggle attended to, Todd are as smoggy and unfettered as you could wish them to be. Overall, it's perhaps les formally experimentalist than 2005's Todd Comes To Your House, but even if it's all within the recognizable remits of guitarbassdrumsvocals, it sounds like the work of a band breaking for the border, even if they have to headbutt a lot of wire fences in the process.
'Between Them Two Roundabouts' canters along with a deathly r'n'r rattle, as if they lured Jerry Lee Lewis into the studio with the promise of a chicken dinner and a racist snuff movie to watch; Clouse's vocals, behind-the-door muffled as they are, are in the grand incomprehensible tradition of David Yow, as well as lesser known lights of American basement noise like Drunks With Guns and Today Is The Day (before they became a de facto metal band). 'Best Laid Plans' is their most faithful crack at the dragging, drugged Southern sludge/doom exemplified by Eyehategod, Sourvein and such; 'Hard Life' is commendably OTT, jam-like-no-one's-listening rock onanism that honours the flame of Blue Cheer's dear departed Dickie Petersen and self-destructively stares into strobes a la Comets On Fire circa Field Recordings From The Sun. It only lasts four and a bit minutes, but you could imagine yourself lost in it for considerably longer.
Todd are a band of evident humour (do look at that sleeve again, won't you), but you'd be forgiven for this not colouring your listening experience, which is likely to be oppressive and immersive. Sometimes there's no pleasure at the business end of the irritation, like the point-free lo-fi noodling within 'The (R)wub'. Mostly, the album is as cleansing as Wright's Coal Tar Soap, and notable for being constructed from similar filth.
Todd are not for the faint of heart. They are, indeed, the second coming of The MC5, repackaged for today's metal audience, but no less exciting in their straight-from-the-garage assault as Wayne Kramer and company were when they first kicked out the jams forty years ago. And on their third album, Big Ripper, Todd turn the knobs all the way up and crash and pound their way through some of the most intense and ear-splitting DIY rock 'n' roll in recent memory.
Big Ripper is, on first listen, a completely offensive sonic assault, throughout which Todd aim for the gut as much as the ears, as they thrash and flail about, seemingly determined to shake the fillings from your teeth. The recording quality here is to be commended; there are absolutely no studio tricks present, and really, there's no evidence that any sort of professional production was done at all. This sounds like a negative thing, doesn't it?
Quite the opposite. In an age of over-produced metal acts rallying for the attention of "alternative rock" radio and arena tours, Todd seem content to sweat it out in the garage or the local underground metal club. All the energy, violence, mayhem, madness, aggression and angst that makes rock 'n' roll what it is come through in pounding waves on Big Ripper, sped up and slowed down over the warm and skittering hiss of analogue tape.
There is absolutely no distinguishing one sound from another: fat distorted bass bleeds into filthy guitars and the drums peak and splash queasily, creating an impermeable wall of barbed-wire fuzz through which the screamed vocals are just barely discernable. Forget trying to decipher the lyrics - you genuinely can't make out any of the words. But the emotion comes through: Todd hates you, and they want to cause you pain (please, though, take that as a good thing in this case).
Album opener, Track Side Fire, opens in an explosion of lightning fast drum pounding and lower-register vocal rumbling, and progresses into an eventual guitar solo - if you can call it that - that sounds not unlike the business end of a hacksaw being dragged across a length of corrugated tin. Todd continue through track after track of deafening offence, including the standouts Country And Western Super Posters, and Arista Disco.
The pace here is hard and fast - dizzyingly so - with precious few moments of reprieve. Todd don't seem to know anything about subtlety, and Big Ripper is all the better for it. The genuine frenetic ballistics of Todd's dirgy, filthy, grimy attack is something to applaud. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Todd are something to be really afraid of.
The album's one nearly restful moment comes in the form of the slow-motion drone of French And In France. Here, Todd take their time, constructing a spaghetti Western march, fitting of a high noon duel in a dusty street, that wouldn't sound out of place on a Darker My Love record.
Big Ripper will ruin your hi-fi. It'll ruin your hearing. But it's such a fascinating and anomalous entry in the mundane world of new-century metal with its low-fidelity approach and its pounding, bleeding violence that you just can't turn away. Todd are without a doubt bona fide rock 'n' roll pugilists.
"When you see the absurd cover art and a band name like TODD, your instinct might be to dismiss the band…and maybe that’s just what you should have done. What awaits you is a jaw-dropping, eardrum-obliterating, sensory-overloading journey into the ridiculous. I imagine the cheerily colourful cartoon character is what any normal and sane human being might look like before listening to this cacophony of thrash and noise: the sound of you losing your mind has probably never been this enjoyable – though I use that term loosely. Recorded in two days and mixed in a week, the result sounds like the youtube videos of gigs recorded on a mobile phone from someone standing right next to the speakers. “What we need to do is create a powerful sense of dread…the longer the note, the more dread” is what Peep Show’s Super Hans once said, and this appears to be the mantra behind Big Ripper, the band’s third effort - voted Rough Trade's Album of the Week. Feedback, fuzz and an impending sense of ominous doom flavour the intense album – it’s a wonder they bothered naming any of the tracks - which sounds something like McClusky having a fight with Part Chimp in a basement with a grindcore soundtrack playing in the background. Save for a few "rest stops" that are few and far between, in the form of the slow ambience of 'Best Laid Plans', the epic sound of 'The (R)Wub' that ends surprisingly melodically, and the strangely soothing 'French And In France', it's a wild ride from start to finish: like a pleasant car crash. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s definitely not healthy - basically Tinnitus in a can: keep away from children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with a heart condition."
"The hardboiled London outfit are back with more of their unfriendly shitstorms of sonic violence and abrasively awkward noise. They are the most unpleasantly unfriendly of bands, can’t help but like the noise they make... They’re a car crash of heavy speed, obtuse screaming, pointed pain, and a stew of acid-driven stoner blues spilt in there with the corrosive riffs, the poisonous blood, the jagged shouting, the smashed glass, the dysfunctional feedback, the broken strings, the progressive challenge and the rusty barbed skin-ripping goodness of it all. There’s nothing friendly about Todd, the violent noise they assault you with, the attitude they throw at you, the relentlessness onslaught of it all – even the relatively quiet considered bits are unfriendly... That’s right, it isn’t just mindless noise and pokes with umbrellas and yelps and... well it is, but... there’s actually is some clever construction within that glorious onslaught of jarringly abrasive noise, there actually is some rather restrained jagged light and shade in here, some thought... Anyone can make a mindless noise, Todd’s music is far too clever to really be considered mindless - this is real art of noise, this is perversely enjoyable.
Todd are as tight as they are chaotic, this is considered and despite what may seem like a bag load on noisy accidents, this is controlled and considered. Gawd only knows what they’re yelping and screaming (and sometimes hysterically singing) about? Umbrellas? The price of Fish? Who knows? Raw wired blues riffs and a strew of wired wired (wired some more) noise and words, all stripped back and pushed forward, don’t tell the unfriendly f*ckers, but this latest Todd album is a rather thrilling onslaught of electric noise.... Riffs, chaos, repetitive confrontation and through it all the clever details and genuinely experimental boundary pushing, the supper heavy blues drenched progressive drive of it all. And when you think you’ve sucked all they have to offer in, they hit you with that brilliant riff and rhythm of Country And Western Super Posters and the best laid plans get better and better as you explore it more and more. Big Ripper indeed, Todd at there very best, love it to bits, just don’t tell the unfriendly f*ckers we said that. Go buy it, you need things like this in your musical lives, a genuinely challenging, risk taking band, some vital noise and a whole lot more, love it love it love it"
The Howl, the Growl, the Power and the Herpes Sores.
Spazzboogie, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Punk Rock gone Bad. Sour milk in a superheated food-blender: "It's going too fassst. I...aaggggh! " Face scalded and a-peeling, the apprentice chef staggers backwards, burns his hand in the deep-fat fryer: it's like OJ Simpson in that blinkin' Police Squad film, lurching from one industrial-accident-in-the-workplace movie-moment to the next. Thumbs get sliced open on super-sharp paper; they trip over their colleagues, dropping boxes on their heads, falling down the stairs. Ow-oww-owwwwch! Todd fail their monthly Health & Safety audit. Again.
But we'll all have a laugh about it in the pub afterwards.
Here they sound - for all of 20 seconds - like *eek* The B52s - every orifice open - servicing an outlaw motorcycle gang on the escalator in M&S. The one that goes down into the Hades Food Hall.
And there they sound - for all of 40 seconds - like Bachman-Turner-Overdrive playing a show inside a cement-mixer. "Churn, churn, churn..." No, wait, that's the Byrds.
Listen to this LP and unleash your inner Canuck woodsman. Practice throwing axes. Nail a beaver to a tree. Terrorise an innocent family of out-of-state holiday-makers. Torture Dad and set fire to their winnebago.
It all sounds pretty scary and intense on paper, but it's just make-believe really, a cartoon. Isn't it?
So why does "The (R)wub" sound so wrong?
If the previous tracks sound like they're sung by a flash.mob of troglodytes, then why do the vocals on this sound like, I dunno, David Bowie on a phialful of downers? (do what with an umbrella?) And there's a sort of woozy after-image - a retarded approximation - of what the band foolishly think constitutes 'backing' vocals: a kinda wayward, louche, seasick, downwards-sounding wooooo-aahhhh thing. I think I find this track so unsettling because it's trying so fucking hard to be a 'proper' song - like it's trying to redeem itself for past sins. Past songs.
But, instead it sounds like it's slowly unravelling, unpicking its own stitches.
"French and in France" starts off like Chris Isaak fronting a Heavy Sludge band, but then it opens up into a metalised hoooooowl that slides down into a massive tunnel. Strange little cars speed past us, jockying for position under the endless tunnel lights. An endless curving tunnel. That ends.
Blame it on the Boogie.
If you’re already au fait with the noise chucked up by London(ish) noise-cum-doom-cum-grind outfit Todd, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Big Ripper, their third full-length. The line-up’s changed a little, but the song (largely) remains the same: painfully to the point. Those new to this sort of thing: best step back a bit, cover your ears, and duck.
There may well be louder bands than Todd in the UK – Part Chimp can stake something of a claim to being the very loudest (they once made this writer feel distinctly unwell through sheer volume, turning the floor of London’s Scala into what felt like a bucket seat on a waltzer), and several sludge-praising purveyors of tumultuous amplification have rendered listening gear numbed into submission in the time between Todd’s second album Comes To Your House (2006) and today. But no band on this side of the Atlantic makes the brain shake, rattle and roll over entirely spent quite like these brutes.
Who, however polite they might be in person, kick up a stink of pure aggression from the very outset here – Track Side Fire doesn’t so much crackle into life as explode in the listener’s face like a pipe (cleaner-sized) bomb hidden within a stick of gum. Subtlety is the preserve of acts with no hunger to administer the very sweetest tinnitus; Todd go for the ears, the throat, the eyes, the knees and the gut with a flurry of blows so speedily delivered that the sensation felt first play through is comparable to being blindsided by a sizeable right hook. Only there’s no disguising the attack – it’s clear as day, bold as brass knuckles.
But unrelenting it isn’t – an opportunity to steady oneself after the cacophonous, caustic assault of Black Gold, Country and Western Super Posters! and Arista Disco presents itself in the shape of French and in France, a meandering, dirge-y drone that erupts in such slow motion that side-stepping its fiery effluence is as elementary as purposefully falling in front of a train.
Which, all told, is not to say Big Ripper isn’t enjoyable, as it is, immensely so. But (probably) purely to an audience that already exists – newcomers may well flee over yonder hills after seconds of this succession of threats on the senses. But if you think you’re up to it, spin this and hold tight – to both your hearing and your lunch.
"Big Ripper is a monstrous record. It’s the album Godzilla has in his headphones as he’s trashing Manhattan. It’s what King Kong hears in his head as he’s beating his chest at the top of the Empire State building.
Musically, it’s an exhilirating riff stew with drums the sound of wrecking balls demolishing houses. Everything is distorted - every sound is so far in the red the dials are practically bleeding.
It’s no dumb brutallity though. The song structures are deceptively cunning - weaving in hooks and magic twists. There’s Brainiac style heavy effect vocals and there’s some amazing, inventive guitar playing - even a whiff of flamenco on "country and western super posters" like we’ve just tuned into Spanish radio by mistake.
Plus there are liberal doses of righteous Sabbathy grooves and an instinctive pull on the reigns at just the right moments to keep the songs from sprawling away from us.
It’s what Torche or The Melvins would sound like if they’d consumed a massive amount of speed, taken an andrenalin hit to their hearts and injected steroids into their cocks.
In a year of amazing DIY punk albums that delight in the joy of making a big fucking noise, Big Ripper is the most extreme.
I’m going to have to
revise my ‘best of 2009’ list to make room for it."
"The full-length follow-up to their Comes To Your House album, Big Ripper finds Todd in terrifyingly heavy form, piling on the noise far beyond normal levels of acceptability. All knobs and faders must have been cranked well into the red zone for this album, which was recorded in two days and subsequently mixed within a week, the right sort of time frame for establishing the saturated, explosive spontaneity of the record. 'Track Side Fire' is the best possible start, complimenting the tirade of guitar and drums with impossibly loud streaks of what sounds like a synthesizer, but could be anything. There's very little let up from here on, although 'The (R)Wub' offers a certain amount of respite with its almost discernible vocals and borderline-melodic riffs all collapsing into an oddly pleasant coda. Generally speaking though Big Ripper is about as nasty and face-scouring as noise-rock gets, and Todd pull this off without any of the po-faced aggression that tends to follow hardcore or metal bands; i mean look at that sleeve, you'd never know they sounded this evil."
"Like the stout-chested lumberjack who graces the sleeve art, the Anglo-American noise outfit Todd's new album strides purposefully into view to unleash one of the most histrionic and overloaded rock albums of recent memory. Not since the halcyon days of Mainliner and High Rise, when Asahito Nanjo was in his Ray-Banned pomp has there been an album so comprehensively lathered in seething distortion and hyper-speed mayhem. Its first half features the lecherous likes of "Happy Easter Florida" and "Black Gold", blasted fragments which writhe and undulate to the strains of glutinous riffs and abrupt, head-spinning low end.
The warm molasses guitar sound of "Best Laid Plans" is the only respite from the frenzied rock 'n' roll dismemberment erupting all around it, as Lawrence's psychotic vocal screeds a truly demented aspect without caution or care that has always served the band well. The latter half's descent into ghoulish experiment concludes an album that is an embarrassment of filth-ridden sonic riches, and is surely one of the most exhilarating and truculent albums of the year."
"I was also
mightily impressed by the sonic collisions achieved on BIG RIPPER
"Riot Season I have now and I’m all the better for it. Don’t be put off by the cheesy cover art because Todd are a four piece from London who produce big fat slabs of greasy punk-metal with hat tips to Touch and Go and in particular Jesus Lizard. There are a few bands around at the moment trying to pump out a similar sound, very few of them doing it very well. TODD are an exception and the fact that they seem to have flown under the radar should hopefully be remedied with Big Ripper.
Big Ripper is the third album proper they have released (their first two were on Southern). To get an idea of their sound you obviously have to take the Jesus Lizard and then also think Boris when they just kick into all out rock n’ roll gear and a similar fuzzed out punk to Clockcleaner. The UK has rarely done this sort of music well (Part Chimp anyone?) and in the earlier tracks there are flourishes of Butthole Surfers type humour, a smattering of McLusky and Big Black metronomic bass thud. Yet in making those comparisons it would be unfair not to point out that TODD are also capable of some left field experimental riffs (French and Out Of France) which reminded me a little of label mates Shit and Shine. The clips I’ve added are from their previous records and although there is great deal of variety of Big Ripper it gives you a bit of an idea of their sound"
TODD come flying out of
the speakers like an athlete with a massive steroids supply... and they
dont let up. EVER. There are 13 songs on 'Big Ripper' and they are the
nastiest recordings Ive heard for ages. It sounds like a live recording
commited to tape.... in HELL!! It really pummels the senses. There are a
few moments when the storm settles and an almost uplifting chord
progression will hover into view ,but enjoy this respite while you can.
AS IT MAY BE YOUR LAST! This album really made me want to go out and
kick puppies faces off and lick the heads of OAPs... in a good way. Ive
had these sentiments about music before, usually they are not as
positive and are associated to Pete Doherty or countless other urchin
rock fucks. Anyway this is a great album and you should buy it...
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