Fleshies

The Sicilian

For every pop-punk travesty pogoing down the MTV pike (Good Charlotte, anyone?) there exists a raging, diametrically non-sucking punk counterpart that will probably never get the attention it deserves. Oakland's Fleshies fall into the latter camp. The Sicilian, the band's latest effort, shows an occasional knack for hooks, but the group seems far more concerned with dismantling the punk template by incorporating lurching tempo changes and other sonic oddities into its balls-out metallic riffs and unhinged vocals.

At first, album opener "There Will Be No Apocalypse" echoes the declamatory punk rage of "(What If We) Arm the Homeless" from Fleshies' 2002 Alternative Tentacles debut, Kill the Dreamer's Dream. Halfway through the track, the band suddenly veers into a slow dirge that soon gives way to dissonant squall and distorted vocals before finally dissolving in a wash of flanged amp hum.

Fleshies work from a hammering, Motörhead-meets-hardcore punk approach anchored by Mattowar's corrosive guitar work and the raw-throated indictments of singer Johnny No Moniker (billed on the album's inner sleeve as King Dirt, for some reason), but the band has no qualms about adding warped elements to its formula. "The Last Friday," for example, augments a catchy, chunky groove with high-pitched, staccato vocals, giving a quirky quality to its over-the-top venom, while the sarcastic swagger of "The Stuff" takes cock rock to its logical (and completely retarded) conclusion. Local producer Alex Newport does an excellent job of keeping things focused without losing any of the band's careening, brink-of-chaos mayhem. The group also has no problem playing it straight, as on the ripping fury of "Don't Hate Me for the Reward" and the surprisingly sweet, almost reserved melancholy of "Rosa." Still, Fleshies' unforced weirdness and complete defiance of punk expectations are what make it such a brilliant mess to experience.

 
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