Album: Raw Nerve
Band/Artist: Jack The Stripper
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Date of Release: 23rd September, 2013
Genre: Chaotic Noise Metal
Reviewer: Erised (abuse me on twitter @Giaccattack)
For Fans Of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza
What’s the only thing more chaotic than a cat wearing a shark onesie riding a roomba? Wait…that’s not chaotic. That’s adorable. My bad! Ok, let’s try that again. What’s the only thing more chaotic than a real shark in a gigantic blender lined with sub-aquatic chainsaws that are wired to a PA that is playing white noise whilst strobe lights blast at seizure inducing intervals? Well, NOTHING is more chaotic than that, but JTS come pretty fucking close!
I’ve really gotta stop doing these album reviews, because it just seems like every one I do ends up with me buying the fucking thing and using the hole in the disc as a masturbation device (yes, my dick IS that small. I actually have to put a rubber washer in the middle to make the hole smaller). What makes Raw Nerve so great, I hear you say? Well, I’m glad you asked, dear reader.
You see, it’s just so damn consistent and that consistency is allied to a ludicrously high quality as well. There is precious little to fault (if anything at all) and there is no real conceivable way that this could be improved upon in any way shape or form. This is in all honesty up there with the giants of the genre and there really isn’t much to separate them from the pack leaders, but I’m going to attempt to find something over the course of this review. I don’t like my chances…
As far as technical elements go, these guys are all supreme technicians. The vocalist displays an utterly jaw-dropping array of heavy techniques; whines, gutturals, shrieks and yells on top of the standard lows and highs. This all amounts to a frankly astonishing smorgasbord of variety that will keep even the most cynical of purists entertained throughout the entire duration of this album. Not once does Frizon fail to impress and he even manages some excellent tonal screams during some of the choruses which inject a much needed sense of melody into an otherwise oblique soundscape.
The guitars are angular for the most part, with occasional forays into gentle and wistful melodies (such as the gorgeous outro in “Black Hole Fetish”). There is plenty of straight up “noise” to compliment the punishing chugg sections and more measured octave-chord driven choruses. Hell, even the bass gets a run. It’s nice that the rest of the band let him think he’s a real musician like the rest of them, so kudos on being inclusive guys. Bass-players have a tough enough time as it is, not getting laid and being generally unskilled at everything, so it’s good to see you including him in the fun.
At times, JTS push the boundaries of what can actually be considered a “riff”, not unlike genre-buddies The Dillinger Escape Plan, and the use of atmospheric samples from the NASA archives really suit the dynamic of the album as a whole. I mean, it’s pretty fucking badass hearing radiation waves from a smashed Mercurian satellite converted to sound waves, or ambient recordings of the friction generated by the ice-rings of Saturn. It’s the sort of thing that just leaves you in awe once you’ve been made aware, and even if you aren’t you still end up grinning like a brain-damaged hyena that’s just discovered that it can lick it’s own crotch with impunity.
Another thing I REALLY loved about this is the realness of the drums. Out of the nearly 200 songs and EP’s I’ve reviewed, I can nearly count on my hands and feet the amount of bands that actually tracked real drums. The awesome thing about this is that it’s so patently obvious that these drums are live recorded. They sound and feel organic, haven’t been produced and edited to the shithouse and even retain some…shall we say “timing embellishments” to further illustrate their authenticity. I absolutely LOVE the raw-yet-polished feel of this album and a lot of it has to do with the drums in general. As for beats, there is plenty to enjoy here as well. The drummer is no-where near in the league of say Billy Rhymer (TDEP), but then again….who is? Very fucking few, that’s who. He’s certainly no slouch though, and the chaotic sections and timing changes are handled with consummate ease. My only gripe is a personal preference for a bit more cymbal action, but that’s entirely a personal thing.
Now that the technical elements have been covered, I want to mention briefly what I believe to be the major strength of this album. A lot of bands really get caught up in the chaos element and forget to make their music memorable. Hooks aren’t a vice of the mainstream scene and JTS really understand that what will keep people coming back to “Raw Nerve” time and time again is the sheer accessibility of it, despite the tumultuous, often visceral nature of the record. Each track has it’s own distinct flavour and it’s an exceptionally diverse listen as a consequence. Whether it’s the grating screeches in “Track Marks”, the sultry female vocal section in “Black Hole Fetish”, the abyssal gutturals in “Nibiru” or the spacey discordance of “Nothing Changes” it all adds up to a listen that is engaging from start to finish. It’s one of those albums you listen to from start to finish, realise that it’s over in what feels like a remarkably short amount of time (33 mins or so, so not short), and then immediately hit replay in order to lose yourself all over again.
Overall, this is astoundingly good. Howie Weinberg (White Pony – Deftones, Nevermind – Nirvana, Cowboys From Hell – Pantera) has put the polish on this gem, but ultimately if the songwriting and performance wasn’t as excellent as it is, it wouldn’t have made a jot of difference. I’ve listened to this album about 20 times all the way through over the course of a fortnight and I’m still eager to hit that replay button. That, my dear readers, is a quality you just can’t put a price on. Good thing you can pick up a digital copy of this for a measly $7 then, isn’t it? I’ve spent more on meals that have given me chronic diarrhoea in the past…
Overall IPHYB Rating: 9.5/10
Enjoyment Factor: 10/10
Wanna help us help support local music? Check out our Patreon!
Chris Giacca just may be the worst writer in the world, but it doesn't matter because he probably still has a bigger audience than you, so he is by default automatically right about everything. No exceptions. He's currently writing a novel which will be uploaded in single chapter installments as spoken word on bandcamp. Physical releases will be on laser disc only, limited to 17 1/2 units. Don't ask about the half.
Latest posts by Chris Giacca (see all)