GENGHIS TRON’S BOARD UP THE HOUSE: WHEN DORKS ATTACK
Most metal heads were probably not the popular kid in their high school, but, still, even in the metal world, it’s rare to see dorkiness exert itself as aggressively as it does with Genghis Tron. Have you ever seen them live? These dudes are making no effort whatsoever to throw on some kind of macho image: there’s no chest pounding here, and the theatrics are pretty minimal.
In other words, like the dorkiest of the dorky, they don’t even really fit into the circle of outsiders; they’re just too plain different for their own good. Fuck, the band doesn’t even have a drummer; that’s like the tr00 equivalent of a “kick me” sign taped to their backs.
But here’s the thing about people who seem too different for their own good: history is full of ’em who turn out to be geniuses.
Ladies and gents, if you’ve never met them before, please allow me to introduce you to Genghis Tron.
No, they don’t have a fucking drummer, thank you very much, and who the fuck gives a flying fuck? They’re still better than 99% of the bands we hear who do have a drummer. And the scary thing about them is, they just keep getting better. The songs on Board Up the House are extremely cinematic, and hookey as hell – but, as Greg Puciato would say, not in a Maroon 5 kinda way. Yeah, it’s a little less grind-y than the band’s earlier work, but it will still make your grandmother wanna call an exorcist. These dudes won’t be on Taste of Chaos anytime soon.
And the integration of the band’s electronic influences and metallic influences has never felt more organic; the shifts between the screaming bloody murder over raw slabs of King/Hanneman-style riffage and Aphex Twin giving every kid trippin’ balls from here to fuckin’ China a reason to jiggle his glow stick seem more subtle, as one section simply dissolves into the next. In fact, I’m not embarrassed to admit that there are places on the album where I can’t quite tell where guitarist Hamilton Jordan ends and keyboardist/programmer Michael Sochynsky ends*. It probably seems like a simplistic comparison, but, seriously: “The Whips” is a better Nine Inch Nails song that Trent Reznor has written this century. Sorry, Trent.
Then there’s vocalist/keyboardist Mookie Singerman. The dude screams until his tonsils have dissolved and he can only cough blood, and when he does clean vocals – which is actually more often than people give him credit for – it pretty much always sounds as though they were recorded in an echo chamber (one of the many nice touches of producer Kurt Ballou). There’s a introvert/extrovert schizophrenia to it; it’s not like anger gives way to romanticism, as it does (or at least aspires to do) in metalcore, so much as it’s like… what? I don’t even know. Does Singerman feel guilty he’s so angry? Does screaming ultimately just strike him as hopeless? Whatever it is, the gentle waves of the shifts in Singerman’s howls – and the accompanying music – gives the album an added dimension that a straight-grind or electronic album might lack.
Fuck! There’s just so many good songs on this album: the sputtering guitars that bleed into a monstrous breakdown on “Colony Collapse,” the Kung-Fu-style man-who-roams-the-earth head boppin’ beats of the title track, the aural whirlwind of “Endless Teeth,” the kinda funky guitars over thick, fuzzy synths on “Things Don’t Look Good”… it can all kind of lure you into a trance. And, uh, this might sound weird, but I noticed, so I might as well mention it: the sequencing on this album is amazing. I don’t know how much thought went into it, but holy shit, it all just flows so well… and can I say one more thing about Ballou? Dude: the guitar tone on this album? Sweet. So warm, but so crunchy… it just makes my spine tingle, dude.
In case I haven’t made it clear, I really, really, really love this album. You need to own a copy.
(four and a half out of five horns)
*Well, that was dripping with homoeroticism, huh?