Release DetailsLABEL Rotten Records
RELEASED ON 2/16/2010
posted on 3/2010 By:
Okay, what in the fuck is this?
Admittedly, it's a bit ass-backwards for me to be asking such a thing--you're likely coming here for answers, not questions. But I'm at a loss. Sometimes, the inability to categorize a band is testament to their creativity. Unfortunately for Karen Page, this isn't one of those situations.
The debut record from these young Ohioans is an incomprehensible, amateurish mess, completely void of coherency and direction, and totally unsuitable for national exposure. This is Z-grade, hodgepodge bullshit that is better served up by skate parks and Christian youth centers, rather than an actual, functioning record label. However, this is Rotten Records we're talking about--they put out a new Green fucking Jelly album last year--so this embarrassing misfire isn't altogether shocking.
So, let's start from the top, shall we? The album starts with some manic, tin-can blasting (the same kind that Armed for Apocalypse does so much better), before shit-shifting into that widdly-widdly wank that somehow passes for lead work lately. Tough-guy shouting then gives way to a baffling down-tempo time change, some sad-sack slow-mo noodling, and some incomprehensible spoken word that makes "Dawn Patrol" sound virtuosic. After a few seconds of this....BAM! Minimalist breakdown, complete with bass drops. More crooning/talking. A brief burst of Machine Head groove. Another breakdown. Then, finally, a Gorod-esque jazz-spazz segues into some soloing straight out of The Faceless' playbook (so, in other words, we're talking fifth-generation style-biting here). And there you have it: The first three minutes of this record. Ready for 38 more?
The second song? More widdly-widdly WEEEEEE, this time accompanied by psuedo-ska upstokes. Quickly, it gearshifts into a detuned a nu-metal tribute to Soulfly's first record. (Let's see some movement out there, children.) Emo wails via megaphone enter though the crawlspace. More tuneless noodling drips from the ceiling. The House of Usher eats itself. Repeat.
It only gets marginally better on "Your Body Is A Wasteland." (Oh, kinda like the John Mayer song? I get it. That's hilarious.) It opens with sunny, brick-stupid spaz-punk goofiness and cunt-whiny lyrics about "promises you couldn't keep" and "a razorblade smile." There is a fun riff at the song's midpoint--for about ten seconds--that gets repeated in the coda, proving the band can groove when they want to. Unfortunately, they spend so much time bobbing for zany ideas inside their own asses that they have no fucking idea what their actual strengths are. (This is woefully evendent on their failed instrumental interlude, which is polluted with jangling piano, stock guitar leads ripped from a generic FPS soundtrack, and more gigantic bass drops.)
Karen Page's stolen Neuraxis riffs provide the most excitement here, but when peppered with pop-punk angstiness, the results are disastrous. Take "Dead Men Tell No Tales," for instance: Initially, it presents itself as polished deathcore, until it rapes itself with clean vocals that sound like Protest the Hero at Billy Ocean Karaoke Night. Once the band start jumping-the-fuck-up with all the frenzy and fury of girl that just got a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am for her sixteenth birthday, it's time to run for the exits. (And you better fuckin' run, before the pseudo-cinematic, NIN-worshipping ballad that closes the album rears it's hydrocephalic head.)
Look, Karen. Throwing fourteen billion ideas at the wall isn't a good formula for anybody, especially when the only things that stick are your drummer's (admittedly potent) footpedals. During this album's entire running time, only three or four minutes of legitimate coherency arise--hardly enough to prove that this band has any idea what they're doing. Sure, they can throw the 'experimental' tag on here and take promo photos with porno mags and cheap beer as props, but none of that can cover up their total lack of songwriting skill. Rearranging elements of already-established sounds does not constitute innovation.
Karen Page should either go back to the drawing board, retreat to their local cabal to kid-glovin' fans, or simply bury themselves in Daredevil comics, never to be seen again. That latter option would be the most advisable, as this dreck simply isn't suitable for even niche consumption. There's no reason for this band to be signed, and if their very existence is a symptom of the Millenium Generation's "everything is awesome, I want it NOW" obsession with instant gratification, this decade is going to produce some excrucitatingly awful material.
Fuck prognostication, though. In no uncertain terms, this debut album is a colossal piece of shit, and Karen Page are, quite possibly, the worst band I've ever heard.
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