Review Summary: The harsh, gritty, heavy and crunchy third album of noise rock pioneers Brainbombs (but beware of their shocking and horrific lyrics).
Brainbombs are an extremely harsh, gritty and vulgar noise rock group. For those that aren't familiar with noise rock, it began as a subgenre of punk rock characterized by a harsh and atonal sound, frequently with untuned or poorly tuned guitars and little attention given to production and songcraft. While bands like Flipper and No Trend maintained punk roots, attitude, imagery and lyrical content, Brainbombs were one of the bands to move the genre into new directions. They are primarily focused on sexual perversion, violence and degradation and lack most of the trappings of 80s punk rock. All of the releases of this band require a disclaimer, first of all for the abrasiveness, minimalism and repetitiveness of the music, and second of all for the extremely bizarre, offensive and (for many people) disturbing lyrics. In some ways this band is more comparable to power electronics groups (noise music made with electronic devices), as bands in that genre like Whitehouse were known for primarily focusing on depravity and perversion and making almost unacceptably abrasive music.
Anyhow, onto the music. Obey is Brainbombs' third album, and they were never much for progressing or changing their style. Their production is low, gritty, harsh and filthy, but for those that listen to this type of music it's not overbearing or particularly hard on the ears (partly because of the warmth of analog recording). The riffs are typically mid paced and they harshly smash on chords, although they do generally play more catchy rhythms rather than just a crushing cacophony. They mostly stick to power chords with dissonant noise ringing out and intentionally poor playing at times to hit more sour notes and give an overall more harsh feel. The drums are overall pretty simple, but they do get into some fills and more creative bits and pieces. The recording is pretty hazy and murky, making the drums and bass difficult to decipher a lot of the time. In some songs (such as the final song on the album) they abandon the cathier rhythms for an all out heavy crushing sound, which is perhaps comparable to the early material of Swans. Obey is one of their heavier albums, with more of a low end crunch in the sound than their debut "Burning Hell" or follow-up "Genius and Brutality... Taste and Power". On their most recent album "***ing Mess" they being back some of the slower heavier tendencies.
The vocals are more spoken than sung or screamed (although in live shows their singer is forced to scream to be heard over the music). The spoken vocal style makes most of the lyrics audible (and being from Sweden the guy has a pretty thick accent). Brainbombs' lyrics always require some attention. They typically focus on subjects such as rape, murder, pedophilia and other sexual perversions. For the most part each song will only have 3 stanzas of lyrics with quite a bit of repetition. The singer isn't particularly aggressive in his delivery, but typically their lyrics are told from his perspective (as a rapist, murderer, etc). Unlike all of the brutal death metal/goregrind out there that distances itself from its violent imagery and lyrical content behind inaudible lyrics and samples, Brainbombs appear to have a very personal connection with it. Also, their general nonchalance toward violent misogyny, child molestation and other such serious topics can make a lot of people uneasy or disturbed listening to their music. However, most of us are desensitized to this sort of thing in media, and as for me, I just want to hear some extremely harsh and uncompromising music with that old analog recording. In all honesty a line like "Child ***, child rape, yes" can't be taken too seriously. Although maybe this guy really is the demented freak he portrays in his music, who knows.
So this is Brainbombs third album "Obey", perhaps the most heavy, low end, crunchy and uncompromising release from the noise rock pioneers Brainbombs. Remember, this stuff is only suitable for fans of harsh, abrasive, filthy, atonal and minimal music, and for people who can stomach extremely bizarre and perverse lyrics which are perfectly audible. For me, this stuff is essential in the noise rock genre, especially considering that the oodles of newer bands trying to emulate them just don't have the chops to pull it off. Give me something harsh, filthy, minimal, well written for its purpose and recorded on analog equipment back in the good old days and I'll surely love it. Brainbombs are notable for having very few stylistic changes across a now 23 year career, so if any part of this review grabs your fancy you could check out any one of their albums. I'm sure this band will put off more people than it attracts, but that's to be expected with this style of music. Check it out if you dig the harsh and filthy ***.