Review : The Locust - Molecular Genetics from the Gold Standard Labs
PitchforkIt's hard to imagine music less in tune with indie rock values (or just plain rock values) circa 2012 than whatever it is the Locust is doing on Molecular Genetics from the Gold Standard Labs, a collection of obscurities that packs 44 songs into almost as many caterwauling, grinding, ugly-ass minutes. Screeching bursts of arrhythmic synth noise? Microseconds of groove suddenly obliterated by a minute of hairy blast beats? Torturous polyp-producing screams? Fucked-up time signatures that would give migraines to all three members of Rush? These sounds are not doing big business on the summer festival circuit.
Not that greedy-eyed A&R men were grooming the Locust for stardom 15 years ago either, but weirdly I knew a lot of people who saw them as the fashion-conscious and crossover-hungry version of the hardcore underground's ultra-violent streak. With scene politics blessedly in the rearview of my life, this take seems patently insane to me now. Maybe it was the goofy onstage costumes or the knowingly kitschy packaging. Because otherwise, how could anyone listen to this stuff and think "sell-out" unless they'd fallen so far down the extreme music rabbit hole that anything less than total sensory assault felt like pop?
On the other hand, canny marketing might be the only explanation for how these guys, as ferocious and uncompromising as any of their peers, found themselves as the deranged cousin to the screamo explosion of the early 21st century. This was music so intrinsically alienating that it could only ever hope to appeal to a small coterie of pain-addicts and assorted other masochists. One did not buy records by Spazz or Crossed Out or even the Locust because they wanted to make nice with their wider peer group. Here's how your "standard" Locust tune goes: The band screams and bashes for a few seconds, pulling tricky extreme metal moves with a hardcore band's looseness and brute force. Then everything drops out for a goofily sturm-und-drang breakdown, or keyboards that sound like incidental music from some schlocky 1950s sci-fi flick. Some more bashing and screaming, and we're out in less time than it takes to microwave a defrosted frozen burrito....full text
AllmusicSan Diego hardcore/screamo/conceptual mavens the Locust were easily one of the most talked about bands of the late '90s and early aughts hardcore scene. Their hyper-stylized image and shrewdly planned merchandising resulted in the sales of tens of thousands of t-shirts, belt buckles, and uniquely shaped vinyl, all sporting their insect insignia. As a brand, the Locust was an overwhelming success, so much so it was sometimes forgotten that they were a band first and foremost, cultivating a sound that introduced synthesizers to the breakneck grindcore drumming and shredded-throat vocals that grew out of early-'90s hardcore, all laying the groundwork for what would later mutate into screamo. In the early days, the Locust's sonic output came in the form of short, violent bursts, encapsulated on 7" singles or incredibly short-running 12" vinyl. Molecular Genetics from the Gold Standard Labs collects the majority of these early recordings, including Locust songs from a number of split releases with other like-minded freaky bands, and tracks from their groundbreaking 1998 self-titled album. All told, there are 44 songs here, most of which blaze by at well under a minute. The band's penchant for brevity doesn't suggest any kind of musical laziness. The songs are complicated to the level of the most obtuse prog rock, only with high-speed dubbing tempos and tortured vocal screams acting more as another instrumental counterpoint than the focal point of any given song. The collection works backwards from the band's five songs on a split single with Melt Banana in 2002, to their poorly recorded and less confident self-titled EP from 1997. The screamed lyrics are dripping in equal parts absurdity and snark, with elongated song titles like "Alas, Here Come the Hypochondriacs to Wait with You in the Lobby" or "Turning Your Merchandise Into a Ripped Wall of Mini-Abs" being commonplace. This extensive collection zooms by in just seconds over 36 minutes, and even at that relatively short running-length, the Locust's speedy onslaughts are a lot to take in all at once. Even "Flight of the Wounded Locust" -- an entirely synthesized composition and the collection's longest track at just under three minutes -- doesn't offer much of a breather before the band tears back into another micro-missive of electro-hardcore brutality. Despite its sometimes exhaustive nature, Molecular Genetics from the Gold Standard Labs does represent some of the band's best and most passionate work. In the early days showcased here, the Locust grappled with their status as an iconic "it band" in hardcore and post-punk circles, and made music as antagonistic, ferocious, and challenging as humanly possible, reminding fans that beneath the t-shirts and puddle-shaped, snot-green, limited-edition vinyl, there was an almost demonically powerful sound and artistic vision responsible for all of it....full text
MxdwnOdds ‘n’ ends collections are always a curiosity for the listener, even if the listener is a fan. This proves especially true for The Locust’s Molecular Genetics from the Gold Standard Labs, a collection of early and rare tracks issued by The Locust’s original label, Gold Standard Laboratories. True, though this is not an all-too¨-uncommon practice for many bands and labels once different deals are made and competing hands are shook, in the case of The Locust, it’s hard to outline for the casual listener what exactly is being charted here. The Locust doesn’t seem like the kind of group whose fans would seek out hard-to-find tracks or a retrospective. However, with some of the group’s material being out of print or only available as an expensive import, there is some credence for this collection’s existence.
Lineup changes aside, The Locust are undeniably veterans of the noise punk scene, and as such have grown from the material presented here. The modus operandi at this point in The Locust’s career was simple: uncompromisingly short, unapologetically aggressive and thoroughly weird. It’s a desperately charming mix, even for the uninitiated, and easy to see why tracks like “Moth Eaten Deer Head” and “Hairspray Suppository” would be required listening for those teenage moments of rage due for a soundtrack.
However, the album’s more interesting moments lay in hearing The Locust grow as a band. Something like “Flight of the Wounded Locust” is still strange and off-putting, with it’s driving and pinging synthesizers, but it still takes the listener to a different place than a considerable amount of their output. As usual, a large percentage of these forty-four tracks have two speeds: breakneck and dead stop. The songs are either rushing you like an amphetamine fueled mutant, or dead on the ground from a panicked blast of ultra-violence. That is their thing. To be sure, many of these songs do little to differentiate themselves from the other songs—or similar songs in the noise genre. And even if we don’t see a drastic change in style in The Locust, as exemplified in bands like Meat Puppets and Hüsker Dü in the early to mid 1980s, the conviction with which The Locust approach all things uncompromising assures fan and fellow alike they can never be sure what might happen when they put on one of their records....full text
The Locust Album Reviews
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The Locust Lyrics
- 1. Recyclable Body Fluids In Human Form
- 2. Twenty-Three Lubed Up Schizophrenics With Delusion
- 3. Flight of The Wounded Locust
- 4. Alas, Here Come The Hypochondriacs To Wait With Yo
- 5. Brand New Set of Teeth
- 6. Hairspray Suppository
- 7. Flash's Theme
- 8. Live From The Russian Compound
- 9. Teenage Mustache
- 10. Nice Tranquil Thumb in Mouth
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