Album Review: “Famous Monsters,” The Psyatics

Famous Monsters is the name of the album. The Psyatics is the name of the band. Post-industrial punk is the kind of music they play. “Play” is probably an inadequate description of what The Psyatics do. They don’t play music. They hammer, thrash, trounce, batter and pulverize music. You can feel their emotion; it’s almost palpable, a crazy irresponsible ferocity.

Or try it this way: The Psyatics are the Mjölnir of post-industrial punk.

The band, a trio, is composed of: Rob Bell is the bassist and vocalist; Jack Ball is the guitarist; and Mark Baertschi sits in the pocket, pounding the skins. Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, Famous Monsters is the band’s third album, and a fourth album is on its way, as the trio is presently in the studio working on new material.

Baertschi’s drumming style is d’Artagnan-like, or if you don’t understand that analogy, how about this one: John Bonham on speed, which means swinging the sticks heavily and at warp speed. Amazing drumming! Not to be outdone by a drummer, Ball sizzles on the guitar, providing driving chords that transition in the blink of an eye to reckless dynamism coupled with unbridled exhibitionism. In short, Ball doesn’t simply play the guitar. He performs musical magic tricks, pulling splendid riffs out of his guitar like rabbits out of a hat.

Rob Bell’s vocals are so raw it hurts to listen to him. He’s got what I call mutant commie-mafioso vocal chords, which means full-spectrum dominance. Listen to his voice on “Voices In My Head,” a hard-charging punk rocker. The vocals are textured, providing a streamlined organicism to the lyrics. And then on “I Like To Die” he goes hypersonic, growling out his fueled-by-rage lyrics.

The Psyatics aren’t just about slamming punk music. They actually have something to say. To that end, Bell’s lyrics range from the darkly obscene to out-and-out laughable. For example, from “I Am Slack.”

There’s no one here to read your literature To hear your world-woes cure…..or meet your god No time to purge the sins I’ve collected I’ll take my chance instead…..while above sod

Or the amusing initial refrain from “The Last Time I Saw Julia.”

Last time I saw that Julia she was putting on her face In the restroom of the corner Texaco Just that night we had a fight and that’s when I gave chase Well, I didn’t want to see that bad girl go

My brother used to eat what he called “Barbarian Burgers,” raw ground beef with mustard and horseradish on a whole wheat bun. That’s the kind of music The Psyatics provide on Famous Monsters – raw, bloody tunes with lots of kick to them. If you’re into rant and rave punk, then Famous Monsters is for you.

On a scale of 1 star to 5 stars, with 1 being content-free as possible and 5 being more than excellent, I give Famous Monsters 4 stars – ferociously goosed up goodness.

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