Just when you thought your ears were safe...Infinity Cat, 2014
Purchase: Infinity Cat
7.2 / 10
I was a fool for thinking my ears were safe. I was kidding myself if I thought my mind would be at rest. Boston-based noise rockers Guerilla Toss seem to release an EP or album every 4-6 months, and we’re right on schedule. Their newest release, 367 Equalizer is a follow-up to last year’s superb Gay Disco — an album that came out a bit too late to be considered for our Best-Of-The-Year list, but would easily make it on there. Or perhaps not so easily.
See, here’s the thing to know about Guerilla Toss: they’re noisy. And I don’t mean noisy like Helmet, where just added three additional distortion pedals makes it hard to distinguish what chords you’re playing. I’m talking noisy like intentionally annoying and cacophonous. But the completely baffling part about all of this is how well Guerilla Toss makes this work. Individually, the instruments don’t kind of do their own thing in tiny little loops: drums play a dance-like beat, the guitar makes seemingly random and tinny hammer-on’s and pull-off’s, and the vocals vary between shrieking and shouting. Together, though, when all these pieces come together, it makes for a Rube Goldberg machine that’s hard to tear your ears away from. Excuse me — that’s hard from which to tear your ears. And Guerilla Toss definitely want to tear your ears.
Okay, let’s talk about 367 Equalizer. This EP is the second installment in Infinity Cat Record’s cassette subscription series1, so you can either get this thing by signing up for this service (and you subsequently get a new cassette each month), or you can just lay down $6 on their site. The whole thing is 4-songs long, and I don’t want to knock it for being short. In fact, their last album was 6-songs long, and I loved it for that fact. It was short, so all of the abrasion and bewilderment never outlasted its welcome. Similarly, 367 Equalizer is just long enough to leave your ears begging for more punishment.
Compared to the rest of GToss’s work, 367 Equalizer is good, but it doesn’t quite live up to the heights of Gay Disco. The band continues to skirt a perilous edge between dance-rock and noise-rock, where the music is just bouncy enough to dance to. This EP, then, doesn’t quite go far enough in either direction. I never thought I’d say this about a record, but 367 Equalizer isn’t as noisy as I’d like it to be. The problem for me is embodied in the introduction to “Cookie”, where you get a minute or two of dirty dance floor disco before launching into the song proper. During this moment, there’s not really anything particularly Guerilla Toss about it, except for its existence in concept. GToss is all about being weird, and having this arrangement in the song is weird, but it doesn’t play to the band’s flashy, gaudy, non-subtle strengths. There are parts of the EP that seem as if the band has toned itself down, or at least, it doesn’t have the same wide-eyed mania that past releases have.
Of course, I’m being overly critical here. There’s a lot to 367 Equalizer to like, and it’s probably a good introduction for a newbie to jump into the band’s (strangely dense) catalog. Even though Guerilla Toss get weird, trashy, and noisy here, it seems like their overall aim has changed. Previous records have sounded like 4-5 instruments doing their own things and somehow (through some dark, disgusting magic, I’m sure) fitting together, but this EP feels like the band considered the overall concept of songs first and foremost. These songs might be a bit more “normal” than those on Gay Disco, or Rambo Part II First Blood Volume 3, but they’re just as fun this time around. At least buy this thing to support the band’s proposed porn-opera2.
1. Curated by one of the guys in Diarrhea Planet, so you know you are in good hands. ?
2. Meh, I probably don’t need to elaborate on this, right?