Release DetailsLABEL Southern Records
RELEASED ON 4/5/2005
posted on 3/2005 By:
Remember Hammerhead? From Fargo? No? That's right you don't, because they're one of the more under-appreciated and overlooked bands of the 1990's thanks to people like you. Releasing four full lengths on the now-defunct Minneapolis noise/rock label, Amphetamine Reptile, they received very little notoriety but left a curiously long-lasting mark in the minds of music geeks. Which is understandable, seeing as how Amrep mainly received attention for their releases by prolific names like Helmet, The Melvins, Today is the Day, and even Unsane, but attracted the interest of anyone in search of cutting and bizarre rock. To tie things together, Todd features Hammerhead's Craig Clouse as a frontman amongst a cast of other talented musicians.
Purity Pledge reminds me a lot of the jokes people make about having "bad trips" while being stoned. While most people scoff at this simple notion, the few people that it's happened to can testify to how horrifying it is. The only way that I can personally describe it is being smothered by an electric blanket that's turned on too high, while having to watch your grandparents cheat on each other at the same time. Dropping the remotely indier elements of Hammerhead, Todd are the antithesis of stoner-rock, epitomizing this feeling by taking the warm fuzzy tones of the genre and perverting and twisting them into something thought-provoking - both sedating and confusingly perilous. It's a wrecking ball made out of the compressed flesh of downtrodden and homeless, crashing into a rehabilitation center for quaalude and barbiturate addicts. Often the name of the game is hypnosis through reiteration, beating a few parts into your head time and time again. "Sharon After Prom" begins the album with a reluctant pulse and doomy tendency before moving on to the tightly-wound "Little Dipper To Squirrel", which could bare its teeth right alongside one of Big Black's more destructive tunes, sans their industrial tinge. Puzzlingly, when things change, their huge and apocalyptic groovy songs wander about the fretboard on occasion while keeping the same beat and mammoth vocals. "Mr. Harry" has sort of a cerebral old TITD vibe, but with far more coherence and a larger and steadier sound than Austin's manic (yet brilliant) project, while the repetitive and spacey jamming on "Sedan" only supports the brick-heavy initial riff which makes its return to finish off the track. The songs where things sound remotely upbeat, like "Miss Longhornspeedway", still have this effect like being cornered by a strange old man, unsure of whether you're about to be molested or given a reassuring pat on the back.
So while a great deal of talented names of the noise/rock scene passively drifted under the noses of music critics and into obscurity, it's uplifting to know that there's still a few people dedicated to drinking and making violent and catchy music. They don't make 'em like this anymore, and that's truly depressing to a guy like me. Hopefully Todd are able to arouse enough interest in old Hammerhead fans as well as stimulate the stoner-rock crowd into a few purchases to keep them going. Purity Pledge is a great album that you don't have to be familiar with the band's roots in order to enjoy.
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