Dusk To Dusk / City Girls EP by MAGGOT HEART
I know, I know, I’ve been quiet, creepy, and shy on the music review situation lately… and what more of a way to make a triumphant return than with a compilation of a combined total of 3 year old records? Any takers? GOOD. I couldn’t think of any, either. NO, I am not quite as dumb as I look. YES, I am well aware of the fact that Maggot Heart’s City Girls record was in fact released (via record label here) last year to largely praising criticism; and their/her City Girls EP was released a year prior to that. NO, I have not been living under a rock… just in a coffin. YES, I was privy to Maggot Heart, more-or-less solo project of Linnea Olsson (ex- The Oath, among others, more on that later) upon their initial releases; just didn’t get around to putting out a review, catching them live, or truly sit down with their catalog and give it an honest listen. That is UNTIL Caligari Records decided to reissue their stuff as a compilation CD, as well as individual cassettes (!). Therefore, I found this to be a spiffy time to give props to the always awesome label that is Caligari Records and showcase these gorgeous releases. Moreover than that, I wanted to take time to bring to attention the ingenious material we have here and proclaim the importance of the band that is MAGGOT HEART. Do yourself a favor, and check this out.
A far (but really.. how far is it?) departure from my usual flavor of blasphemous cruel noise of extreme metal, I present to you a blend of fist pumping rock n roll with the swagger of the devil itself, the depressive and reflective side of post punk in the rebellious vein of Killing Joke, and a dangerously seductive retro glam vibe of Berlin-era Bowie. Fitting, as although Maggot Heart born, bred, & bled in Sweden, they are on Teratology Sound & Vision, Berlin-based label; and this music seems to exhume the city’s dark desires at every pulsating turn and stinging twist of the record. Recorded and having life & death experience in Stockholm, The “City Girls” EP as well as the full-length “Dusk to Dusk” are musical recounts, commentaries, detailed snapshots, and psychological traumas (i’m only safely assuming based on actual events) of night life in the breathing, beckoning, dark, & hulking entity of the city itself. The city, I’m referring to can be metaphorical for in fact ANY city, although Maggot Heart’s record is a deeply personal one, it is metaphorical. The “city” is much like an organism just as you or I are, and we are thousands of organisms that make up one city.. all of our speeding, falling, drinking, guitar-smashing, barfing, bleeding, snorting, building, crying, breaking, lifting, pocketing, sneaking, eating and YOU GET IT, tendencies are what compromises the city itself. The city at night is not only perceived as a different entity in general, but is treated as such. The freaks come out at night, so they say. I can attest to some accuracy in that statement but I can confidently say, that Maggot Heart definitely shines in the darkness. Linnea Olsson has written the perfect soundtrack to the embodiment of the night, seeming to perpetuate its very existence regardless of the actual time of day. Music has spooky powers like that, and this is by far has zero exception to that rule. Her guitar absolutely relentlessly WAILS as it searches for a purpose, a tune to carry; and ends up resulting in a hypnotic and desperately melodic narrator, much like one on a drunken night of hell-raising and purpose-searching in the dark recesses of the city. Olsson barks, orders, chants, seduces and soothes the poetry of the moments & feelings captured in city at night like a militant sorceress with her vocal delivery and as a guide along this journey. Her voice becomes like a flame the lighting a cigarette on a desolate avenue in the witching hours of the morning. Reinforcements are brought forth in the form of the eve-crushing rhythm section holding court its gross (that’s a good thing), stomping, and groovy… well, grove. The bass is thick as swimming in smoke and the drum patterns act as mirror images of the footsteps of all who wonder aimlessly through said city; so sure of their mission of intoxication and financial restitution, or just desire to rock and roll. The endgame of metaphors is one I do not wish to keep harping on, ironically the records do continue bleeding this theme. The blood is “so real” like the first time you see the difference between 80’s horror movie and reality, this ain’t no cheap red paint stuff.. this is the real deal. As if it is impossible to reconcile that this music could come from a place of illegitimacy, it is too real (and quite simply too good) for that. Olsson is pouring onto the cassette (available now from Caligari) a documentary of life in the city, coming up, coming down, winning, loosing, what you learn and what you miss, alive and dead, and all the above.. all having to do with the theme concept of the night. The Scorpion depicted on the cover I’m assuming is in fact, her. Without getting into too much real-life drama of her career, (previous bands/jobs, etc..) she is showcasing her armored insect - like resilience and agility; fascinating, cunningly beautiful, but has the potential to be deadly - and venomous as all fuck - when it intends to be.
Going beyond the music, what Olsson represents and stands for on this one is what is truly revolutionary. Without relying too much on website drama research, Maggot Brain is the misfit monster child derived from the remains of the previous failed bands, relationships, jobs, lobotomies, etc. Being one to always want to make a live “the American dream” of doing and making a living off what you want to do, and enduring suffering road of struggle and self-doubt that come along for the ride. Maggot Heard is the brute parasite that survived the apocalypse, and its thick skin and blood curdling danger is very apparent. Not only does she/this send the important message of being a strong individual, rebel against the authorization state to pursue what you truly want to on your terms, a lot more people should take that cue; this by nature is a call to arms for some women power… And this one of the best statements ever made for it. Especially in rock n roll/metal, a truly male dominated culture and business. It’s the nature of the beast vs the nature of the scorpion, and not only is it a compelling fight but more importantly a powerful message, even today. Scratch that - ESPECIALLY today, unfortunately. Personally, I in the crypt here have always been a huge proponent of women in rock/metal/punk bands as women have undeniable musical quality to them that lends itself to this type of music so well. Especially with the heavier/darker side of the music, said female’s vocals play off the contrasting music exceptionally beautifully, adding an element that would just be unattainable with male vocals. Aside from the usual vocal duties of women, a lot more female guitarists are coming out that are just fucking killers. The obvious one to cite is say Nita Strauss due to her superstar level status, but there are quite a bit of these said 6-string wielding women killers emerging from the underground. Olsson herself has always been a viscous riff writer (see her previous bands, she rules), never wanting to front a band until she was essentially forced to with Maggot Heart. Well, that worked out for all of us as she lays down the driving force of the record, the guitar, with effortless dominance and her slightly unorthodox yet insanely captivating and fitting vocals hold the songs together like the solidifying cement they feel like. Eventually that cement becomes a tombstone that can confidently be etched with her competitor’s name. I think it is safe to call her the genius/mastermind behind Maggot Brain because, as stompingly good as the rhythm section is and the record could no survive without it, she is really the captivating burning star of the show, and forgive the overuse of words, it shows. Not only based on pure musicianship and rock-ability (which there’s plenty of) but thematically & lyrically, as well. It is quite apparent she drew upon deep personal experience to execute this exciting level of lyricism and masterfully orchestrated this melancholic, forcibly monolithic, yet completely energizing “punk” edge of a sound totally original and unique to what Maggot Heart is. Not the I’m some authority figure preaching feminist rights vegan punk rock or anything, but not that I’m not; either. I dig the message like a grave, all night long. I’m not saying every female-based or simply band with a female member is good, but they become more interesting and more compelling to check out, every time. I would love to see the industry get to the point where that is a normality, not a novelty, sooner rather than later. Especially hard-rock/punk metal - based solo projects from women, much like one that is as - weird (?) As this one. Hell yeah. Not only is it incredibly unique and powerful, the message is not really shoved down your throat, like many are guilty of and to my estimation actually works against them. Maggot Heart is simply just what is is, strong music that stands for itself. That is an exhibit of pure bravery and awesomeness that simply kicks-ass, and we need some more ass-kicking. E It is clear the trend is in it’s favor as just this year bands like Venom Prison, Jinjer, Lucifer (ex- The Oath with Olsson, sorry to bring it up), Code Orange, and the list goes on. They are on the rage and responsible for some of the best material to be out out in recent history. Maggot Heart could now add its post-proto-punk rock bleeding primitive heart to that line up.
Influences can be heard from The Stooges, Television, and Poison Idea to Christian Death, Danzig, and Fleetwood Mac.. all thrown into this midnight-summoning potion. Intoxicating, intriguing, insightful, and inside-your-head thrilling and chilling; this collection of material plays out like a dark pulp fiction comic of pure rock ’n roll harmony and tightness. The “primitive” guitar stomping and simultaneously gorgeous riff and melody writing are only further highlighted by the record’s perfectly imperfect, grimy, production. I mean that bass stomp is locked in and explicitly heard amongst all the other chaos in the way that could only drive this flavor of post-punk, any and all other fuel sources will not be accepted… but let’s not let me go on yet another bass rant. Because I can. And I will. ANYWAY, I know this seems to be one of the more “serious” reviews I’ve done as the intestine-ripping, blood-drinking, and corpse-defiling are latent.. but that doesn’t mean they’re not out there. A collection of songs about survival in the clutches of downtown witching hour experiences is every bit, if not more, dangerous and real-life-frightening. And also conveniently makes for fantastic rock & roll.
Gym Rating: 4/5
Check out all the darkness Maggot Brain has to offer HERE:
And catch them on tour (see you at the Pittsburgh date May 10, for fucking SURE) right here: