Brace yourself people, Nines Mecca the new album from Science Man (aka John Toohill) pulls no punches from start to finish. This is full-throttle, no-brakes hardcore thrill ride. Nothing can prepare you for pushing play and getting hit full in the ears by the opening track ‘POACH THE MIND’S EYE’ which is fast, frenetic and frenzied with the vocals sitting in a crucible of overdriven guitars, lockstep bass and don’t-try-this-at-home drums. With a squeal of feedback ‘CINEMA C.E.N.S.’ is up for more relentless syncopated distortion and only a sliver of closed hi-hat separates this from ‘HEALER’ which pours petrol on an already raging fire. There is a slight pause before ‘SUPER CHARGER’ bursts forth, utilising the staccato rattle of guitar-as-percussion and sounding like the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse have galloped into your head.
‘ADVENTURE SPIT’ marks the midpoint of the album with a dystopian meander (like a queasy take on The Residents) that evokes being blindfolded and then repeatedly spun round until you are completely disorientated. The blindfold comes off and ‘THE SIGN’ thunders in, closely followed by ‘THE WANT’ which is, unbelievably, the fastest track so far, a giddying, ascending chord rocket ride. ‘NO QUARTER FOR THE BRUTE’ may almost be a stroll in the park in comparison to the propulsion of the other tracks, but it still contains so much power it could frack enough gas to solve the energy crisis. ‘BIRTH OF A MOUNTAIN’ is the penultimate track and keeps its foot firmly on the accelerator as it hurtles towards the atonal syncopation of album closer ‘OLD TIMER’, which has the feel of an old rocker track from someone like Thin Lizzy but wired up to the National Grid.
18 minutes and now you can sit back and wonder what the hell just happened. 18 minutes that leaves you feeling like you’ve been on an assault course with the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. 18 minutes spent going down the roughest, toughest mountain bike trail on a soapbox cart with no brakes. And, as if this wasn’t enough, John Toohill has conceptualized, filmed, directed, and edited videos for the album tracks with Lindsay Tripp, his partner and member of Spit Kink, which can be found on YouTube. Toohill describes them as “Ken Russell style green screen madness meets Jodorowsky surrealism with the charm of Evil Dead on a punk budget”. I can’t top this description but maybe hold off on watching the set if you are hungover and just ate a full fried breakfast.
It makes perfect sense that the tracks are listed only in upper case as these songs are monolithic and carved out of granite. The production focuses the drums, bass and razor wire guitar into a tidal wave of noise that you surf and never wipeout on. Breath-taking, exhilarating and, like the feeling when you get off a rollercoaster, it makes you want to jump back in for another go round.
Review by Paul F Cook