Gather round, children, and let me tell you the tale of a bygone era. A time before orange men with names like “Pauly D” and women who get their buttocks implanted to attract a mate at “da club.” This was a much simpler time, when men wore their hair long and flannels ratty. A time when women wore their hair long and their flannels ratty. It was all very androgynous, but in a sexy “we are SO different because we dress the same” kind of way. This was a time know as the ’90s.
Why, you ask, do I bring up this desolate time before smartphones and the terror of a Penn State ravaged by the beast known as Sandusky? I recall that age of enlightenment, because the two bands reviewed today may have been sucked through a wormhole and planted in our time, a time of horrible music such as (Editor, please enter the name of a current crappy top ’40s band; I stopped listening to commercial radio a long time ago). Listening to these bands made me yearn for the days of old. I automatically thought of the scene in Empire Records when a young Ethan Embry is cut short on his metal thrashing by a pre-Bridget Jones Renee Zellweger. What I refer to as “the good ‘ol days.”
First up to bat is Prainbork. This is the band that recalled the epic Empire Records scene for me. This band and album sounds like something straight out of a Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtrack. This L.A.-based band is all over the place in a very fun and out there way. The album isn’t just sweet shredding and double pedal drums, but it also has a sense of humor. Akin to the likes of a Dr. Dre or Green Jelly kind of mini sketch interlude, this makes you know that even though these guys take the music seriously, they don’t take themselves seriously, too. They definitely have that Cali vibe that has been missing from music for a while, even from L.A. bands. Their use of more than just the traditional guitar, bass, mic, and drums set up makes me want to see them perform live to see how they would pull off the string or brass instruments that appear in some of the tunes. Like Cibo Matto before them, the album A Wrench Short of a Baker’s Dozen is very much food oriented. With track titles such as “Beef Porridge,” “Peanut Stomper,” and “Mustard Donut,” it’s hard not to bring up the similarity of track titles to my ladies from the land of the rising sun. “Mustard Donut,” in fact, is a nice little bit of frolicking absurdity featuring Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe. Except for the little bits of humor peppered in between tracks and some songs, this is a great workout soundtrack. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself when I consider jogging with the dog working out. It’s got a good ‘ol head bangin’ beat, a style you haven’t heard much on the radio lately and you can dance to it. If you consider banging your head dancing. I do. Just grow out your hair, otherwise you look like a spaz.
The self titled Mangled by Mangulation brought me back to the days of army boots, Pantera t-shirts, and late nights talking about the latest episode of Beavis and Butt-head and who’ll be on the next 120 Minutes. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then use the internet for more than just porn and WoW. Look it up. Back in the day, MTV played music videos, and we got all the news we needed by Kurt Loder. Mangled by Mangulation is another band that has some sweet shredding and a double pedal bass that screams, “I dare you to try and play this on Pro, you Rock Band lover!!!” Heavy on the Heavy, both instrumentally and vocally, it’s nice to hear a band that takes it to 11 and not make it totally incoherent screamo. I also really enjoy the little additions not usually found in a metal band, such as a little piano tinkling or a smidge of Korg synthesizer. The album progression is a roller coaster ride, meaning it isn’t a one note, plays ’em all album, but has nice peaks and valleys. It starts strong, kicks it up a notch, and then takes it down to cool things off. I felt a bit of a Primus-y/Metallica-y guitar chord manipulation vibe which I dug and a hint of Nine Inch Nails, but in the electronic sense, not the “I wanna be dark and stuff and chicks will dig it” sense. If you’re looking for a mold-breaking band, this isn’t it, but it is a band that knows who they are and how they want to play. Mangled by Mangulation is a solid metal band that doesn’t need to ask your opinion; it knows where it stands.
Both bands are worth looking into depending on your musical taste, especially if you’re looking for a new face on an old friend. One disappointment I seriously have with both bands is their lack of quality websites. Both are basically just places to download their albums. Understandable in the sense of monetizing what you put your heart and time into, but a Facebook fan page isn’t a website, it isn’t a place to get updated news about the band, bios, pictures, tour info, links, and merchandise. They owe it to themselves to take some time to create sites that speak to themselves and their audience. Plus, it’s a better way to pick up girls by saying, “Check out my website and message me,” rather than, “Um, just look us up on Facebook, ok?” Step it up, guys, the music speaks for itself. I’m working on getting the word out; give the folks something to look at while they check out your tunes.
*Editor’s Note: Prainbork consists solely of Art Bertik (lead vocals and instruments). Mangled by Mangulation consists of Eddie Solis (lead vocals) and Art Bertik (instruments).