Single Review: Iguana Death Cult – Oh No

Iguana Death Cult is the Eye to My Storm

Chaos, chaos, everywhere!

Chaos on my floors. Chaos in my head. Chaos in the sounds that spill out these crappy, tinny speakers on this shockingly expensive laptop that can’t even store all my writing, let alone all my music.

Gone are the days when music was safe in one place: our record shelves, our CD carrying case, our glossy silver iTunes promising a utopia that looks suspiciously dystopian in retrospect.

Music is wild, free, ubiquitous and therefore unattainable. With all the magical mayhem swirling around the black, black hole of the interwebs, it’s shocking anyone is heard at all.

Iguana Death Cult are no strangers to strangeness. Even the name evokes one of those bad acid trips from my early twenties. Their deadpan promo shot suggests apathy, or perhaps this is the new Zen: the freedom of having no more fucks to give.

Photo of the five members of Iguana Death Cult
Photo by Tom van Huisstede

Music is not a pastime. Music is not recreation. It’s therapy. The band knows this acutely, and found solace in making magic/madness together in the midst of the paralyzing pandemic. They know first-hand that melody, lyrics, crashing cymbals and distorted guitar riffs become a balm that can quell our deepest sores and unspoken fears. Music can stem the tide of panic when I look out at my apartment mid-disassembly, leaving here after only three months, a life in shambles, a life full of opportunity.

That’s the vibe Iguana Death Cult evokes: bold, barren, unbidden, yet welcome all the same.

The single title alone: ‘Oh No’. You got that fucking right! I have too long bypassed my shadow with fast-track chants and toxic positivity. There are times “Oh No” is all you can say. We must remain open to these moments if we’re ever going to live fully.

This single is full, indeed: full of funky bass lines, rapid fills, a manic guitar and compelling vocals that sound like Devo if they’d gotten into spoken word.

Who said art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable? I can’t remember the last time I was comfortable, and I’m sure there are many who feel the same. It’s as if the ground  is shifting underneath our feet, and we don’t know whether to stay or go. Iguana Death Cult serves the theme song to our collective unrest. ‘Oh No’ is edgy, energizing, and oddly empathetic for this weird kid sitting amongst a life in perpetual transit.

We’re all so afraid of admitting our vulnerabilities- at least, I am. I want to be successful so it feels like my suffering amassed into something worthwhile. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe our best lessons are unteachable, and our truest successes unmeasurable, unsharable, unlikable.

As the band says of this latest release,

“Self-mythification seemed funny to me since I spend most of my days wallowing in doubt and worry. In the end it became a metaphor for how we polish up our lives to near perfection on our social media accounts, while mental health problems are becoming more norm rather than an exception.”

Gone are the days when the road was clear. The Western world once safely fed on a time-tested recipe: Go to college. Get married. Have kids. Buy a house. Die in it.

There are no more guarantees, but I’m starting to think there never were. That beautiful house + beautiful wife formula a la Talking Heads was reserved for certain folks from certain backgrounds with certain religious affiliations and sexual/gender identities. Maybe we’re in flux because the flux is necessary to get somewhere even better.

I have to believe that: my plane is taking off in 13 days, and even though I know the destination, I have no idea where I’m going to end up.

Do you ever feel like you don’t have a clue what you’re doing? I used to be so confident about where and who I wanted to be. It only took three months for all of that to fall apart, and now I sit in Limbo, listening to the jazzy outro of Iguana Death Cult’s latest offering, contemplating jazz like Ginsberg, even though I’m nowhere near his genius.

Any artist understands self-doubt. Musicians, painters and writers alike toil mercilessly with very little material return. Thankfully, we can all find pleasure in the process, and the people we meet along the way.

Irony! We’re so obsessed with the destination, yet it really could be all about the journey.

Sometimes all you can do is embrace the chaos, and press Play.

Stream ‘Oh No’ now; the album, Echo Palace, is dropping May 12, 2023 – pre-order via Bandcamp.

Follow Iguana Death Cult on Facebook / Instagram

Review by C E Hoffman

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