Thursday, March 22, 2012
“Then, standing before a closet mirror, he put the automatic to his head, at the point of the pterion, and pressed the comfortably concaved trigger. Nothing happened—or perhaps everything happened, and his destiny simply forked at that instant, as it probably does sometimes at night, especially in a strange bed, at stages of great happiness or great desolation, when we happen to die in our sleep, but continue our normal existence, with no perceptible break in the faked serialization, on the following, neatly prepared morning, with a spurious past discreetly but firmly attached behind.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969)
In the case of both bands and people, death is an eventuality. However, unlike people, the death of bands is sometimes only a question of your timeline.
ACxDC were a Southern California grind-inflected powerviolence crew formed in 2003. After releasing their Jack Trippin’ demo and the He Had It Comin’ EP, the band split up in 2005, though what seemed like death turned out to be a lot more like hibernation, since the band re-formed in 2010 and has this 2011 EP to prove that their death certificate was signed prematurely.
ACxDC pack a breakdown-friendly style of grindviolence that conjures up nostalgia for late 90s-mid 2000s acts (including superior mid-career material from the now-overhyped Magrudergrind), which makes sense considering that their last EP came out when Bush presidency cracks were still topical humor. Despite sounding slightly dated, there’s an undeniable energy to these 6 tracks, even if I’m slightly nonplused by the tight-panted, spin-kicking teens that I can’t help but picture dancing to most of these tunes.
What stands out as the real draw of these songs is their sense of fun and lightness, meshed in with extreme music’s harshness in a way that brings to mind Spazz (minus the unorthodoxy and awesome curveballs like the Kool Keith drop). “No Fly Zone” opens with a thrash gallop that jumps into a fast, moshing part that sounds like a pit full of grinning punk kids (rather than the scowling meatheads you’re more likely to run into at shows these days) and blasts out its conclusion in a way that’s more energetic than threatening. Even “T-Shirt Time” (and yes, that’s a Jersey Shore reference), a bulldozing grinder that’s one of the EP’s most aggressive cuts, eschews malice for punked-out speed.
That last song title encapsulates one of two major complaints to be lodged about The Second Coming, neither musical. The first complaint comes from the utter inanity of about half of the song titles, many ostensibly pop-culture references (“Milk was a Bad Choice” and the aforementioned “T-Shirt Time”) but some (“Fuck It Dood…Let’s Go Bowling”) just eye-rollingly goofy. The problem is compounded when you peruse the lyrics; "Milk was a Bad Choice" is actually about Anchorman (sample lyrics: "I am trapped behind a mustache/I'm a goddamn glass case of emotion"), "No Fly Zone" follows the plot of the HBO comedy series Flight of the Conchords, and "T-Shirt Time" is a diatribe against the MTV series that coined its titular phrase. Third track "Leech" is the only one seemingly exempt from the pop culture bonanza, focusing instead on selfish, leech-like people in the author's life (and who knows, it could just be about a film or series that I'm not catching the reference to).
The second (and more major, since it has a negative effect on the flow of the album, unlike the song titles and lyrics) complaint is a classic, so much so that Andrew Childers over at G&P has practically drafted a constitutional amendment against it: namely, haphazard and unnecessary use of pre- and post-song sampling from films and other media. Anchorman, The Dark Knight and slacker classic The Big Lebowski (probably my favorite comedy of all time, on an unrelated note) all make an appearance here, and while an argument could be made that fun being a major part of the band’s aesthetic makes up for the overuse of samples, that argument is overruled by the fact that most of the songs are the worse for wear because of it. While the songs and samples are obliquely related, since “Jokes on You” (sic) contains the “And I thought my jokes were bad…” line from The Dark Knight’s Joker, “Fuck It Dood…Let’s Go Bowling” contains The Jesus’ angry ranting from The Big Lebowski and “Milk Was a Bad Choice” contains dialogue from Anchorman, it’s not enough to make up for their execution, and it winds up feeling like the samples are meant to make up for (probably non-existent) shortcomings in songwriting.
ACxDC are some of the best around at peppering the punked-out everyman intensity of powerviolence with helpings of grindcore’s highspeed shriek, and several back-to-back listens of the earlier He Had it Comin’ EP and this Book of Mormon of an EP should make willing converts of any worshippers at the Altar of Magrudergrind you might have in your acquaintance. Once you get past the samples and stop reading the song titles, this is an EP more than worth the shelf or harddrive space of any powerviolence and grindcore obsessive, and I can only hope that the band doesn’t decide to call it quits again before “coming” at least a few more times.
You can find The Second Coming EP, as well as the rest of their material, available (very cheaply) for purchase at their Bandcamp account.
I’ll also take this chance to mention the fact that band member Sergio’s baby daughter is in desperate need of heart surgery, and the band are asking for assistance through PayPal donations, shirt purchases, show attendance and any other way you can find to help out.