Mediocre bands litter the Detroit landscape like dog feces. It's to the point, that when some no-name outfit produces a record that's merely 'above average', it's hoisted in the air and paraded down Woodward like a Thanksgiving Day float. So it's fitting the combined musical forces of native son Vinnie Dombrowski, the provocative Danielle Arsenault, hometown guitar legend Dave Black, another local legend in bassist Dana Forrester, and mysterious drummer Leander Decordova, were expected to not only satisfy, but exceed the extremely high expectations on their second full release. The first Crud album was a sonic assault on the Detroit music scene, a musical traffic signal indicating that not only was the devil at the wheel, but Hell remains straight ahead for most of us. Few albums possess that raw authenticity to grab you by throat and shake you out of your everyday complacency.
So we've all been wondering the same thing: What could possibly be next ? The anticipation for COMI has been building for months and has been fully justified given the talent level of these musicians.
Well, with their sophomore release, Vinnie and his partners in crime have successfully proven one absolute musical truth:
Rock is no longer dead.
It is now a zombie that Satan chained up in mom's basement.
'Crud On Monster Island' is pure spectacle. It's underground theater, complete with lion headdress, blinding lights, and a tour de force of rabid musicianship. And, it's been a long time folks, since anyone around here has put out a record this good.
Not that COMD is going to appeal to everyone. It's still noisy, fetish, sex rock, no question. There's some NIN (intentional or not, the subtle influence of Reznor's enigmatic 'Gave Up' from the Broken EP is everywhere on this disc), some Front 242, and a deliciously sexy streak of early Blondie. If Blondie dressed in leopard skin, howled like a she-wolf, and challenged the Skull Ape to battle for musical dominance. But it's been blended in production to be a bit more ear friendly, than your typical industrial mishmash. Dombrowski and the Patalan brothers realize a record like this has to not only make a statement, it has to BE a statement. And CRUD have nearly perfected the difficult art of crafting an appealing song, without compromising their artistic vision.
There's a distinct damnation theme prevalent. Song titles such as 'Die With The Sinners', The Devil Is A Patient Man', and 'I'll Be Damned' offer foreboding. This is a record about choosing the path of the damned and repeatedly reaping the consequences. Upon repeated listens, one senses this album is as much about therapeutically embracing the sinner within all of us, as it is about sin.
'Bomb Bomb' leads off the album, and though it's a bit of 'Reality part 2', it's still sinks its hooks into you the minute you hear Vinnie singing the ridiculously flattering line 'she give me bomb bomb, when she boom boom'.
'We'll Not Be Broken' quickly sets itself apart as the album highlight, and should become the next CRUD processional. The synergized energy of this track is flat out jaw dropping, as Crud turn down the grit and smooth out the rough edges. The end result is more than a solid rock song, it's a rock anthem, and a theme for our city in these dark days.
'Balaam's Ass Speaks' draws it's deceptively crude title from an obscure Old testament story where a donkey was granted the power of speech. After getting slapped around by it's owner, Balaam, out of the blue the donkey suddenly asks, 'Whyare you beating me, man?” Leave it to Vinnie to take that story and transform the theme into a driving S & M classic.
'I'll Be Damned', with it's 'Hell can't hold me' chorus is another victory, and listening to it, I couldn't help recalling the Alice and Chains I knew and loved back in 1992.
I'm purposely not mentioning every track, because 'CRUD On Monster Island' contains some startling changes of timing and instrumentation that readers and fans should discover on their own. However, I will reveal this: be prepared for when CRUD decides to, unexpectedly, unleash the horns.
Yes, you read correctly, horns.
My sole dislike of the record is the repetitive nature of some songs. The screaming, the riffing, and the machine gun drumming, could bleed certain tracks one into another without much notice, but this is petty consequence on a record of this nature.
Overall, a stellar achievement.
for the DRB
Photos by LUX Concert Photography