Released: 2007, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Schizophrenic, polyrhythmic noise-grind may not be everyone’s cup o’ tea (see the other review of this release penned by my esteemed colleague, Heliogabalus) but for those who dig a little lurching, off-beat metal, Car Bomb’s CENTRALIA is just what the doctor ordered. Equal parts Pig Destroyer, Mr. Bungle, Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan, Car Bomb’s debut is a dark, twisting foray into madness led by these Long Island natives. Unrelenting in its fury for 32 minutes, CENTRALIA is an exhaustive listen that contains everything to love and hate about the far-reaching genres of extreme metal. Freak-out vocals, lurching tempos and unorthodox song structures will be unsettling to many but lying beneath this seemingly disorganized chaos is brilliant technicality, unforgiving brutality and enough ambience and experimentation to leave a listener feeling simultaneously dirty and violated, yet strangely satisfied.
CENTRALIA is hardly going to hook anyone with gripping melodies or sing-songy choruses. Accessible this is not, dear reader, and picking out a favorite track is not an easy task as this type of album is more of a whole piece. Still, the jackhammer-like cranial assault delivered by the twenty-seven second “Rid” is enough to put the lid on any poseur that dares enter Car Bomb’s mindspace. The fury and intensity put forth in less than a half-minute of stuttered cacophony is jaw-dropping. Likewise, “Best Intentions” charges along with weirdo vocal patterns, frenzied, feedback-laden guitar runs and Elliott Hoffman’s insane blastbeats that instantly raise the expectations of the new releases of Relapse label-mates The Dillinger Escape Plan and The End. The lurching tempos of “M^6,” “His Eyes” and “Hypnotic Worm” almost dare the listener to hit the “skip” button but the unconventional nature of the music is spellbinding, not unlike the urge to look at the carnage and depravity of a roadside accident. Vocalist Michael Dafferner channels his inner-Mike Patton on “Cielo Drive” and the puzzling vocal cadence and style of “Solid Grey” features Dafferner’s clean, guttural and abrasive voice all at once. “H5N1” is a meandering mix of ambient effects, spoken-word and clean vocals, as well as a more straight-forward (for this band anyway) songwriting approach to conclude CENTRALIA. Look at it as a welcome means to essentially come down from the mindfuck administered for the previous half hour.
Car Bomb’s bio reads, “Their intent is to assault the listener in any and every way possible” and they do just that with CENTRALIA. Jerking the listener around like a rag doll with inhuman time signatures, brain-searing guitar parts and off-the-wall vocals, CENTRALIA is discombobulating, gloriously extreme and possesses that throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks sense of composition. This may sound like a mish-mash of ideas but when filtered into a single, seething entity, the band pulls it off remarkably well. CENTRALIA is definitely going to draw a limited audience but for those willing to break down the constraints of extreme metal, Car Bomb is unquestionably a band to watch.
KILLER KUTS: “Gum Under The Table,” “Rid,” “Best Intentions,” “M^6,” “His Eyes,” “Hypnotic Worm,” “Cielo Drive”