By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Last Beat Records
There isn't much difference between heavy metal played with a straight face and heavy metal played for grins--except maybe the joke's more obvious, even if no one's chuckling. (How can you laugh at the punch line when you can't understand the words?) Stinkbug certainly wouldn't go so far as to call themselves a "metal" band--the scratching and samples lean the definition more toward industrial, itself a limiting and antiquated term that never meant much in the first place; the "funk" beats and "rapped" lyrics move them closer to Mr. Bungle than Ministry.
Stinkbug goes the way of Al-Jourgenson-by-way-of-Adrian-Sherwood-by-way-of-Black-Sabbath nonetheless, their apocalyptic boogie-rock filtered through movie samples (lots of dirty talk about defiling one's self and deflowering teen-age whores and something about how "he likes his cock" and she likes his cock-enlarger--how utterly outrageous!), their death-disco riffing and barked words distorted until they become indecipherable fuzz and so much static. Add metal on top of that, discord born in the arenas and buried in the clubs--noise and fury signifying only noise and fury and existing only to exist.
Stinkbug belongs to that certain category of bands who make music only for themselves then pass it along almost as an afterthought; there's no easy access into their mess, no way in and no way out if you do manage to slog through their waist-high muddle. It's a sound closed off and rendered almost impassable by its immutable and redundant barrage of barks, riffs, and metallic belches. Dynamic Domination, like every other metal record, doesn't feel your pain or want to know what ails you; it is your pain, end-of-the-world anger objectified without ever explaining or understanding what actually pisses these boys off most. If it's a joke, it isn't amusing, but if it isn't a joke, it's pretty goddamned hysterical.
The artists formerly known as Mildred follow up last year's splendid full-length debut with this four-song EP, including the "hit" single "Moon June Spoon" (which still sounds better on radio than on record), the live-and-unreleased "Liars & Fools" and "Horses Head," and the remixed "Drop Down." But this is a power-pop CD(-ROM) for the audio-visual squad: Plug this sucker in and it unveils videos and live footage, a follow-the-bouncing-ball lyric sheet, and interviews that reveal less about the band than the songs themselves. It used to be musicians made music to make music to make money; now they make music to make videos to make CD-ROMs to make money. It's a longer route, but it's still the same trip. Computers killed the radio star? Not likely.