Big Black
Atomizer


4.0
excellent

Review

by IAJP USER (42 Reviews)
August 10th, 2010 | 121 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Albini's first band releases it's first LP and atomizes all other alternative and punk music at the time.

In ordinary circumstances, Big Black were a band that could not physically have happened anywhere else but mid eighties America, like their cross-ocean brothers The Clash. A country gripped by the same economic downturn and conservative rule as it's ally and neighbor, Britannia, some Americans reacted in the exact same way as most of us Brits did. They made offensive, loud and feedback driven punk music, with often obscene and confrontational lyrics.

Big Black were a band that typified this attitude, angular, smashing and sawed off edges all danced around the burning corpse of uncle Sam, cutting up the memory of the country and pissing on it's rotted flesh. Theirs, and many countless other groups angry reactions were born out of the governments complete refusal to accept their disgraceful conditions in which they lived, they were a necessary catharsis, one that instead of suggesting alternatives, spat in the face of diplomacy and government.

Atomizer is the band's first full length LP, and it is a loud one. Steve Albini is the obvious puppet master, as usual, and he stamps his influence from the first track, the less than insidious Jordan Minnesota, a furious, explosive start to the album, in which the (at times) almost unlistenably jagged guitar sound cuts with ease through a wave of ambient feedback like a stanley knife. Factory robot drums stomp around relentlessly, looking for something to smash and crush underfoot, never letting up pace while Steve roars away in the background, only giving way for the occasional 'OOOW' or 'UHHH'. It's a frantic opener, and one that sets the pace for the rest of the record.

Passing Complexion is next up, and it's more melodic, reserved, but no less brutal and punishing in it's approach. With a bizarre yet captivating and catchy synthesizer, Steve continues his audio onslaught. Big Money and the six minute epic Kerosene follow next, and really begin to hammer home the unforgiving approach of the band, noise layered ham-fistedly over a bed of noise, it's intriguing, but like the Jesus & Mary Chain, at times is extremely harsh on the eardrums.

With musical traces of (the obvious) punk, electronic music, avant-garde modernism and vocal music, Big Black not only offer up a realistic and grim portrait of life as bored, penniless middle Americans, they put it to a horror soundtrack which never seems to give up, instead fighting for it's life until the last breath is squeezed out of it at the end of Cables.

Though cliché to say, the album really does what it says in atomizing all traces of conventional pop and alternative music, and instead chooses to serve it up pulped and blended in a barbed wire chalice. It is a disgusting and at times strangely horrific mix but it really works, and is perfectly complimented by Albini's tortured and helpless screams and yells throughout. Indeed, Albini may be without a hope in hell, but he won't go down quietly, his lyrics burst through the speakers with unforgiving urgency, and although they're low in the mix, they rip through the swathes of noise and feedback like a crystal clear shard of broken glass and leave the listener completely scarred.



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user ratings (218)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Supercoolguy64 (5)
Big Black managed to use their disgusting sounds and crafted it into a thing of beauty....


Comments:Add a Comment 
IAJP
August 10th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

without DOUBT check out big black. this is not their best full length IMO, i love songs about fucking. similar to MBV in that a lot of their really great stuff can only be found on EPs (and as such, EP compilations like the hammer party). regardless this is as good an introduction you could want from them. thanks for the feedback man :-)

731
August 10th 2010


662 Comments


Kerosene is one of the best songs of the 1980's as far as i'm concerned

great review man

PregnantTeen
August 10th 2010


168 Comments


can't believe this is the first review for this album, so good

IAJP
August 10th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

kerosene is great, love this album. some stuff they've done has made me a bit sick, the noise is so intense sometimes and frantic it turns my stomach a bit - i love that, as pretentious as it sounds, i love that an album can make me literally sick.

IAJP
August 10th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah it beggars belief this wasn't reviewed previously, was happy to see songs about fucking was reviewed though.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 10th 2010


7421 Comments


Yeah. Criminally underrated band. Songs About Fucking is an even better album imo. Plus, good job on the review.

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

IAJP
August 10th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the first song i heard by them was obviously the model, that in itself was worth checking them out for, i love everything else i've heard. racer X, crack and dead billy are so underated.

AggravatedYeti
August 10th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn it I need this record.

IAJP
August 10th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

in my opinion their best IS songs about fucking. that album has everything this does, and it's really catchy at times too. plus it doesn't let up in terms of harshness. i would check that out then this, but this is where it all started in terms of LP's. do check out the EP's as well, they're as good if not better than some of the album stuff.

yeah man i heard that swans album, REALLY brutal. i'm going to review white light or the great annihilator soon. swans and BB both great examples of this angry american punk, swans are just soooo heavy at times it's disgusting, i love them.

731
August 10th 2010


662 Comments


@hsthomas: Songs About Fucking is their best



AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 10th 2010


7363 Comments


I really need to check this band out, I've been meaning to for years.

Meatplow
August 10th 2010


5524 Comments


Songs About Fucking just edges this out for me, this is ferocious though.

WeepingBanana
August 10th 2010


10189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Big Black are so amazing and don't worry, i agree with out about that music that makes me sick thing.

THIS WILL STAY WITH YOU UNTIL YOU DIE!!!

love it

IAJP
August 10th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

funnily enough that lyric has stayed with me for about 3 years..funny shit!

WeepingBanana
August 10th 2010


10189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

if you like noise rock that can literally make you sick check out lightning bolt

IAJP
August 10th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha i've seen bolt live. i got twatted on the head by gibsons guitar i was absolutely fucked after that, great gig though. was nauseating at times, especially when he started doing his little wavering tremolo thing and screaming

WeepingBanana
August 10th 2010


10189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol yeah LB live is pretty nuts. saw em last april

IAJP
August 10th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

seemed like the room was tiny, the crowd kept changing so i wasnt standing next to them the whole gig thank fuck, would probably have never heard a thing again. chipendale is one of the loudest drummers ive ever heard.

instantradical
August 11th 2010


214 Comments


This is such a cool album. I love "Bazooka Joe." It manages to be starkly funny and really really eerie at the same time.

qwe3
August 11th 2010


21363 Comments


big black fucking rules



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