posted on 1/2009 By:
This co-ed bunch of crossover thrashers hails from San Francisco, and Infernal Command is their latest of two full-lengths to go along with a small slew of split records and EPs. This is my first exposure to what these ladies and gents do, and I’m impressed. I have an affinity for certain types of hardcore, and this type of metal-punk hybrid appeals to both my soft spot for hardcore and my longtime love for thrashing goodness.
Voetsek’s origin in fastcore/power-violence shows through quickly--vocalist Ami Lawless has a frantic chattering yelp, one that I imagine will turn off some listeners, but one that I find kind of endearing. Her vocals are high-pitched and rapid-fire and cartoonish, running from mile-a-minute phrasing into protracted groaning screams.
On the instrumental front, the band falls closer to the thrash side of the traditional crossover blueprint, blazing fast and furious through these 17 tracks. Only three tracks last longer than two minutes, and a few of them are grindcore-short, blink-three-times-and-you’ll-miss-‘em affairs. Guitarists Ben Reduction and Jef Leppard (brilliant name) hand in far tighter, more technical performances than I expected, with some particularly cool moments in the chugging midsection of "Plagued By The Winds Of Conformity" and the lead work of "Frozen Heart." Like most grindcore, the songs are largely devoid of any true structure—just riff after riff after scream after blast after riff—so expect some coolness, but little in the way of gang-chants or immediately memorable hooks beyond the occasional discernable song title whizzing by. The lyrical matter is alternately snotty and political—with song titles like "Blueprint For The Perfect Circle Pit" or "W.W.L.D. (What Would Lemmy Do?)" contrasted with "Five Years In Iraq" or "Bully With A Badge"—but a large part of the lyrics are indecipherable due to Lawless’ barking, so you’d be hard-pressed to know too much about any of them beyond that what Lemmy would do if he were me or he were you would be to bang all the bitches at your school…. My only complaint is that the best tracks on Infernal Command, aside from early highlight "Lemmy," arrive in a cluster towards the end of the disc—"Bully" with its interlocking guitar licks and half-time end section, "Iraq" with its pounding rhythms, and the venomous mid-tempo of "Self-Righteous Fuckdom." (Also, of note for you jazz-vocal fans, there’s even a cover of Billie Holliday’s "Strange Fruit," which was unexpected, to say the least.)
Voetsek are a rougher, rawer throwback to the days of crossover—not as polished as, say, Municipal Waste. Those fans of the likes of Cryptic Slaughter, the Accused, Charles Bronson, or Spazz and/or those who appreciate both grind and thrash and who can tolerate some oddball vocals should give Infernal Command a shot.
And for anyone who would like to expand their vocabulary of offensive expressions from southern Africa, the word "voetsek" is Afrikaans for "get lost" or "piss off."
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