Judas Goats & Dieseleaters
irst, a vocabulary lesson:
Ed Gein. The serial killer from Plainfield, WI, whose strict, repressed upbringing drove him to become a murderer, grave robber, and necrophiliac. Only two murders were confirmed in his name, but his house was filled with body parts from his alleged victims. His unhealthy obsession with his mother and penchant for turning human skin into clothes made him the model for Norman Bates in Psycho, Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.
Judas goat. The goat that the rest of the herd follows during grazing. When it comes time for slaughter, the Judas goat is trained to lead the rest of the herd to the slaughterhouse, while its own life is spared. According to Aaron Jenkins, bassist/singer of the band Ed Gein, "A large portion of the world’s population falls into one of the unfortunate categories of either being a betrayer or one of the millions of mindless, resource-eating followers."
Dieseleater. The human body with a Mack truck for a head, part of the cover concept for Ed Gein's new album. Jenkins says, "When I think about tractor-trailers, all that comes to mind is a big, polluting, consuming machine that is noisy, obnoxious, and meant for one thing: work. It just seemed fitting to put that on a human’s body, because [that's] essentially all we are."
Right, then. So a trio from Syracuse, NY, names itself after a famous serial killer and takes the human condition rather seriously. The results aren't half bad. If you're into getting body slammed for about half an hour or so, in over a dozen different ways, then you'll love this album.
Ed Gein does the "hardcore meets grindcore by way of death metal" that North American bands are increasingly favoring nowadays. However, what sets Ed Gein apart is its sheer physicality. There aren't any guitar solos, wheedly technical runs, or nods to melody here. In fact, this album has basically no melody. Songs churn and grind through atonal, downtuned riffs and wrenching tempo changes. The vocals are all yelling, all the time. But while this music has no subconscious, it's not stupid. The band's seeming aversion to 4/4 time works in its favor, as the constantly shifting time signatures keep things unpredictable. Blastbeats, thrash beats, hardcore breakdowns, and flat-out weird grooves take this album out of any easy genre classification.
The lyrics are heavily political and charmingly blunt. There's the anti-racist "Small Towns, Small Minds": "Don't yell 'white power' at me, you white trash piece of shit / I'm not your god damn brother / I won't stand here and watch you draw lines in the sand and divide us up by color / Fuck you and your heritage / Fuck your ignorant Confederate culture / We're all human beings, why don't you start acting like one." There's the anti-fundamentalist "Christianity as Foreign Policy": "Nothing is more destructive than the belief that God is on your side / Radical Muslim suicide bombers have it, and so does our President / We're all screwed / The most dangerous men in the world fighting like children over who has the better imaginary friend / Grow up before someone gets their eye poked out with a nuke." And, of course, there's the anti-Bush "A Conflict of Interest." Its lyrics, in their entirety: "Big business and government shouldn't mix. Go back to running Harkin into the ground, and take that Halliburton piece of shit with you."
If you're wondering how these lyrics could possibly fit into vocal patterns, don't bother. The lyrics seem to have been written first and then forcibly inserted into songs, resulting in some heavy enjambment. However, this practice is common in even the more poetic death/grind bands (Premonitions of War and Between the Buried and Me come to mind), and given that the vocals are basically unintelligible, these lyrics are more for reading than for singalongs.
Music this visceral isn't about analysis, anyway. Harsh times demand harsh music, and Blackmarket Activities has been pushing the new American hardcore/death/grind sound with recent brutal, essential releases from Animosity and Premonitions of War. While Ed Gein isn't the most original band around, it's deadly effective. A record as single-mindedly pummeling as Judas Goats & Dieseleaters makes terrible background music. Play it loud, preferably after a shitty day at work.