Released: 2012, Goo Grrl Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
They may say ‘what’s in a name?’ but clearly if your parents has monikered you A. Dick Shitstain you’d be inclined to keep your head down. Having established by way of crude metaphor that it’s easy to judge a name, skimming through the tracklisting of Antlered Man’s debut Gifties 1&2 feels a little like a dog digested a shredded dictionary and is now trying to rearrange the words itself.
Being flippant is easy – in reality a lot of thought has probably gone into thinking up these avant-garde, yet witty, titles. The press blurb insistently likens Antlered Man to Mike Patton and his surreal projects a l’Mr Bungle, which perhaps explains some things. A bit of creativity never goes too far amiss though and this is something the Bermondsey four-piece pack in large quantities. As a result you’re never quite sure where Gifties 1&2 is going to come to. Just when you’re expecting a fastball, they’re up in the stands eating hotdogs.
‘Platoono Of Uno’ is the stand out track on the album merging politically charged lyrics with the simple System Of A Down-esque ‘I am a man and I want to be heard’ slogan. The fuzzy punked up midsection stomps over the rest of the album with its own easy to seize tagline - ‘What sick motherfucker would invent a man?’.
A similar tactic is at work in ‘Surrounded By White Men’, which expresses its distaste at certain world truths with repetitive lyrics ‘Daddy buys me anything...’. The heaviest track on the album, and one of the most brain-sapping, is throbbing noise-athon ‘Misruly Roo’. Like the satisfying bang of a closing door, ‘Misruly Roo’ ends Gifties 1&2 on a high note, but it almost seems premature now having hit this stride.
When they err into all-too-indie territory Antlered Man quickly lose their quirkier side as in the opening guitar lines of ‘Better The Calamity You Know’. Elsewhere, ‘Can’t Beat Them, Try Solvents’ patters along like the wheezing pitch of a street organist with nightmare-cultist-chant vocals. At nearly five minutes long the gentle guitars, chanting vocals and tinkering percussion of ‘Schizo Tennis’ drones on more than the average awards acceptance speech. Sure we like atmosphere, but you can’t imagine too many people complaining if someone up there told this to wrap up early.
If you’re happy to get around the Alice-In-Wonderland-nonsensical lyrics, and to take the time to piece this together with the surrealist musical landscapes, Gifties 1&2 will have plenty to offer you. The trouble with trying to be deliberately out there is it’s far easier than some may think to repeat the same ideas, or to sound intentionally pretentious with no substance behind the airy concepts. Whilst for the most part they’ve avoided such pitfalls so far, going forward Antlered Man needs to be careful not to catch those antlers on too-lofty ideas.
Review by: Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs