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CD Review: Polidicks – Mutenation

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"Kill Dr. Phil," one of the tracks on Polidicks Mutenation, begins with a joyfully out-of-context quote from the pop-psyche panacea. It's a clearly stated bon mot, a joke. It's the only clearly understood moment throughout the track, except when the title is repeatedly shouted.

While it's a lovely sentiment, who knows why they want to kill, or even which method of murder they plan? Maybe it's enough to know that the killing will commence, that they're angry with Mr. McGraw, the man formerly known as Oprah's No.2 bitch.

Well then, the Polidicks album should have been called "Rinse and Repeat" because the exact same emotion – and only the exact same emotion – is the reason for the other 14 tracks' existence. The first track on Mutenation is "Fuck It" – and so, ultimately, are all the others.

Quickly listening to this album, I tried to think of the different tracks – I can't fairly use the word "songs" here – as instrumentals, and not music with words, meant to impart meaning. I tried, but the anvils falling downstairs sound is not pretty, pleasant or attractive. Or listenable for any sustained amount of time. Not when there's a world of music that exists, where even the anger makes sense.

While music disabilities, like so many others, can be overcome, the Polidicks have fallen off the chair, at a street corner, and no one's around to help them back up.

Throughout the album there's some serviceable drums, and they stand out as a relief; the guitar chords shine at moments, too; those moments without vocals. "Mother Grubbing Motherfucker," "Out of Touch," "Kill Dr. Phil," "Forced Submission," are all like this. For 40 seconds, "Devoid of Choice" sounds great, with sly whispered asides and a building melding of guitar and percussion. Then the vocal dump starts; which only portrays a din of failed demonology.

"Fuck It" starts the album with a movie clip : "What do you have faith in? Nothing, I am exquisitely empty" And then the whining, Bass-Weiner dog noise begins. I hear "Yapyap yapyapyapyap yap yap."

"Money Grubbing Motherfucker" has a satisfying musical intro and it's the best track on the disc, because the instruments echo more than the vocals grate. Still – Yap yap.

There seems to be an acknowledgment that words are important in both "Methods of Murder" and "Question it?" where the voice is slowed down enough to discern actual words, even syllables. Presumably if you're going to question it you have to know the "question" and the "it." Although if that were true "Abused, Controlled, Enslaved" would let listeners know what or who was abusing, controlling, and enslaving.

In the end – and the beginning and middle – the Polidicks are like a concert played with feedback; it's a worthless pile-of-shit experience when you realize the extra noise isn't going away, and you want your money back. But the band at a concert is usually wise enough to stop, isolate and remove the problem, and continue.

That doesn't happen here.

So many songs start with spoken words, from other media sources, positioned there obviously to give a meaning to what follows. That's lazy in the way that Kanye West's — and many others — sampling is lazy; except those exist to give rhythm to the song, not meaning.

All I can think of when I hear this backfiring blunderbuss of an album is a multi-layered demonstration of fogged and unfocused frustration. These songs try to portray a dissatisfaction, a frustration. But the delivery is as frustratingly useless as the words are unclear. So while words were written, with differences meant for each song, they all burst the same lung and have no distinction.

About temple

Always been a writer, always maintained an interest in politics, how people communicate and fantasy worlds within photography and books. Previously wrote for Blogcritics back in 2005 and interested in exploring the issues and topics I'm interested - the changing landscape of entertainment. all from the POV of a creator first, consumer, second.
  • Guppusmaximus

    I’d like to know what you have ever reviewed or listened to besides this that qualifies you to condemn a hardcore/punk album??
    Just as too much hype is a bad thing, too much negativity does the same. I was expecting a really shitty album maybe something like Slipknot or a new Pantera album…Ooops that’s never gonna happen!
    But this falls right into place with numerous albums in that scene that remind me of some real pioneering work. Ya know, I always read on this site how people should listen to an album a number of times in order to “get it” and believe me, I don’t know this band in the least. Yet, they never do when it comes to something that really shakes them.
    This band sounds like the only logical progression from the oldschool scene especially when compared to all those “death metal” wannabe hardcore bands that arose in the mid to late 90′s(Earth Crisis,etc).
    So, tell me… Did you “get” Ironchrist’s “Getting the most out of your extinction”?

  • Guppusmaximus

    Or for that matter… Napalm Death’s “Harmony Corruption”?

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    A fair question.

    Do you remember Candlemass? You namecheck Napalm Death, from the 1980s.

    This sounds exactly the same as those bands did then. Napalm Death who almost managed the unthinkable, fucking up “Damage, Inc?” I remember liking one of their songs, but I can’t remember which one.

    So, let me ask a question in return. Where do you get this idea of “pioneering” and “progression.” My musical tastes are as wide as the Mississippi and deeper than the Mariana Trench, though much can also bore me. As a listener. As a music fan. As I say at my own site, I don’t get off on criticizing growl vocals, but it’s the big infestation of flies in the room. You can’t get through it without saying somethng about it because it dominates the experience.

    The Polidicks have a name that seems to say they have something they want to get off their chest, something important, something complicated even.

    Why the fuck would anyone chose to do that in a one-note delivery where no one can hear any of the words at all. I understand the concept of voice as instrument but with this type of “vocal” there is zero range, one tone, one volume, one expression. One disgusted listener.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing comes across in this music but anger. I’m into angry music, too, but rarely just someone throwing a tantrum. Couple this with the just ugly sound of these “vocals” and though you’re not an expert, please tell me how this is progress?

    I ask in a friendly way because I’m genuinely interested in the answer. This music doesn’t shake me by the way. It just annoys the fuck out of me for all the reasons already mentioned.
    You may like this music, I’m not sure from your staments. I’m into the speed and the style of Polidicks, but I can’t get inot it any deeper because of the vocals. I rarely review death metal. But someone sent it to me and I delivered my idea of why this type of music is a waste of time. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on it but it hasn’t clicked, yet. I have reviewed plenty of punk (this isn’t punk) and hardcore music, search here; and enjoy a lot of it.

    The Polidicks, just from what I get listening to their music, are pointless. Is that harsh? Nope. It would be if I believed otherwise. But I listened to this album as much as I could. I knew quickly, as I so rarely do, that I would get nothing more from it. As I say, I can’t listen too hard for the good stuff, the instruments, when there’s that overreaching, overbearing buzz in my ear.

    Look, I’m not saying you have to agree with me. I should hope that’s obvious. Please tell me what you get out of the album. I’d truly be interested because all I get is what I put in the review. I shouldn’t have to know about the history of a band before I get something from the experience of listening to them. Knowing Tori Amos’ background certainly adds untold depths to her work, but I liked her tunes before I knew anything about her. (Now, a lot of her music sounds the same to me, and I have to be in a very somber mood to listen to anything from her but Under the Pink or Boys from Pele.) Slayer is Death Metal but they had sometihng to say and said it so people could understand.

    Haven’t heard Ironchrist. Is there anything worthwhile there.

  • Guppusmaximus

    I’m always torn when I get into a discussion about the Metal genre with people on this board. Candlemass? I mean who hasn’t heard them? It’s great that your musical tastes are vast, but when you call Slayer a Death Metal band I begin to wonder how much of this genre you have actually explored. Death Metal was, very much, based on the growling,cookie-monster vocals as well as the brutal heaviness and speed. Hell, without Chuck Shuldiner(Death) I would question what bands would actually exist in that style.
    When I use words like “pioneering” and “progression”, I am merely talking about how a band has changed or evolved that particular style of music. For instance, Watchtower is a crucial band to the Metal Community because they were the first to incorporate syncopated rythymns, odd time signatures,etc.. in a fast and complex heavy style. So, they were pioneers to that style because no one had done that before. Spiritual Architect could be viewed as a band that is the natural progression of that style.
    Now, how are the Polidicks “progression” or “pioneering”? Well, for starters they can be lumped in with Napalm Death but for the year 2006 they took a step back. Granted, this guy’s vocal ability with the “growl” isn’t anything new or brilliant,unlike the vocals on Neuraxis “Trilateral Progression”, but he does a decent job and it doesn’t sound he is using any effects(Now that’s an art).Along with the music it creates a, sort of, reverse crossover. I really do feel they are keeping it in the punk/hardcore genre and considering they are from Canada,how could you not be influenced by the killer bands that have been coming from that way.(Did I mention Neuraxis?)

    As for the fact that you don’t like Death Metal so far, I can only suggest some material for review. Believe me, just because I can hear certain things that relate this band to a specific genre doesn’t mean that I feel they are the best at what they do. But, at the same time I feel they are far worst bands out there. Try to listen to Dim Mak. Anyways, here are some bands that I would suggest to give you the idea of what Death Metal is like when it’s done with talent and brilliance:

    Death “Individual Thought Patterns”
    Atheist “Unquestionable Presence”
    Opeth “Blackwater Park”
    Necrophagist “Epitaph”
    Arsis “A Diamond for Disease”

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Thrash. Speed Metal. Death Metal. Black Metal. Dark Metal. Whatever. I’ve always heard bands hate to be labeled, and I doubt many really try and pigeonhole themselves into a genre. I don’t really pay attention, so much, to labels because it can devolve into silly games where one is called ignorant merely for not knowing a meaningless label. Slayer was labeled as death metal in England where I lived at the time to the best of my recollection. Sepultura is another band I remember fondly, that was considered thrash / death metal; synonymous as far as I recall.

    I may give one of those bands you mentioned a go. … … but then again, so much music out there. ….

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    I should clarify that that doesn’t mean I don’t use labels, and I believe I know them well. But they can differ and I don’t get caught up in them and saying “one doesn’t belong.”

    Why do you like this music?

  • Guppusmaximus

    Sure, Sure… People can hate labels all they want. All those “catagories” you just mentioned have different attributes that bands share. I use “Catagories” to classify music on the certain aspects that pertain to each style. Death Metal is catagorized by the main aspect of that music which is the growling,throaty,death-like vocals. That’s why that label is given to that catagory. It really has nothing to do with lyrics about Death and that’s usually the misconception. When you mention Death Metal to people, especially people like me who loves this sh!t, we know what to expect.We know what to listen for.Like trademark sounds and playing. You could think that Labels,i.e.”catagories” are a bad thing but I feel that most bands don’t have much of a problem with it as you would think. Anyways, why would they?

    “and I don’t get caught up in them and saying “one doesn’t belong.”

    Well, you wouldn’t include Poison with Slayer, would ya? I mean come on man… give me a break!
    You have to draw the line at some point. Like I said, there are certain factual attributes to a band’s style that place them in a “Catagory”. Their are plenty of bands that thrive on constantly releasing work that cements their place in that genre. When did that become an insult? Maybe to the panzies who cry about diversity and being original. Well, those are the f*cks who usually aren’t. Those are usually the individuals who don’t believe in mastering their instruments and mastering their relationship in the band.

    Why do I like this music?

    When I was young it started with the intensity that it brought unlike the normal Heavy Metal bands like Iron Maiden. It was new and brutally heavy. Death,the band, was the beginning and if you pick up their first three cds you can hear such a fast progression as to where Mr. Shuldiner wanted to go and believe me, no one went there before. It was like,”Holy Sh!t”,how the hell does he sing like that? My brother, my friends and I, used to always look for the fastest, most complicated sh!t. But, we also liked stuff with focus and passion. Anyways, back to the question at hand,which, has now changed. The question should be…

    What do I look for in this music?
    A tight,solid drummer with some major chops. NO TRIGGERS! Either, A Guitar Virtuoso or someone who understands what works. Basically,a guitarist who knows how to play and doesn’t hide behind Drop-D tuning. Same with the bass player. Vocals have to be natural, but, it has to come from the diaphram. Sure, a little bit of effects can help but I can tell when they completely rely on it.
    The music has to be fast,focused,technical with soul and precision. Not just heavy without reason. Driving guitars, throaty vocals and a machine gunning drummer(Gene Hoglan). Odd time changes can help and so doesn’t equipment. Spending money on excellent instruments and practicing your ass off. These things show up more in the recording than “fixing” the sound with pro-tools. You can tell when a band truly appreciates this music and can play it.

    So, I guess, there are many levels to me liking this music.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Very cool, Thank you. One of the very few I’ve talked to who has been able to articulate why they like it, and it make sense. The vocals are just a huge block for me I can’t get past. Perhaps I’ve been unlucky but “heavy without reason” as you say is all I’ve heard in this genre for the last 20 years.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    i’m with Temple on this. as soon as the cookie monster vocals show up, i stop listening.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Thank You, Temple.
    Believe me, it takes quite a bit of research and listening to find the bands that I truly like(thanks to the internet,mp3s). For most people,I don’t think this about you,music is just a hobby. Just entertainment. Not for me… It’s life with a passion. As much as I love Metal, I love all sorts of music but Metal is where I’m knowledgable about the “greats” because I have spent years listening to these cds over and over again. I listen to Metal for the energy and intensity but I also analyze the music for it’s parts. The communication between the musicians is what really gets me f*cking stiff, Ya Know? How the parts intertwine and when you listen to the “real” bands from this genre, it becomes an overture…Very Orchastrated. Very much like Classical music.

    Over the last 20 years, the bands that really had an influence on me would be:

    Death
    The Police
    Fates Warning
    Dream Theater
    Mike Patton(Mr.Bungle,FNM,Fantomas,Tomahawk)
    Watchtower
    Opeth
    Michael Manring(Solo works,Attention Deficit)
    The Dolphins(especially the track,”Another Vibe”)
    Iron Maiden
    Strapping Young Lad
    Anthrax
    Michael Hedges
    Elvis Presley
    Slayer

    I’m sure the list could go on…

  • Kevin

    The Polidicks are amazing. These guys got me into hardcore punk music. My buddies all love this album, so if you think it’s crap.. well, maybe it’s just not your kind of tunes.