Honestly, I should have just stuck with playing soccer. It seems more defiant than punk rock today. Sorry about our documents. It’s like anyone grows… things change… you don’t always hang out with the same group you did ten years ago. If music isn’t always changing for me...then I have no business doing it. I’m happy that pg. 99's records don’t all sound the same. They suck, but at least there’s some organic nature to it, that made it feel like it was growing.
- Mike (of pg. 99), 11/5/03
Near the start of his “Discourse on the Method,” René Descartes offers an offhand comment on the nature of oratory and poetry, and brings up a point that works particularly well for pg. 99’s second LP, oddly enough. These disciplines, he contends, are based on the artists’ gifts rather than strict practice or study. It’s an interesting proposition, because Descartes singles these areas out from mathematics or linguistics, for example, studies based on the gradual accumulation of knowledge. Examples abound, music can go either way on this spectrum of capabilities. Document #8
is indicative of this idea in that music is based more in the pure aptitude of the D.C. screamo band pg. 99 than it is founded on a learned skill that derives from other, older musicians. In part, this is what makes Document #8
so titillating and exciting. Grand punk statements have been made before, and odysseys into realms of rebellion have departed before. Pg. 99 separate themselves though, as Document #8
is a far cry from the feel-good rebellion. The cacophonous masterpiece of pg. 99’s discography is a work both lucid and nightmarish yet compelling and bouncy; and it’s in this distinct blend of chaos and beauty that the D.C. eight-piece establish a record of hardcore fervor and perfection.
Influenced by the ire of Born Against and like-minded punk bands, Document #8
is a structure built on the foundations of contempt and hatred. Quintessential screamo, the entirety is fast-paced and blurry. The cacophony of “In Love With An Apparition” and “Your Face Is A Rape Scene” begin the album with spine-tingling passion. From the guttural energy of “The Hollowed Out Chest Of A Dead Horse,” to the brazenness of “Your Face Is A Rape Scene,” pg. 99 utilize every moment of Document #8
to make a fuc
king statement. The guitar lines inhabiting the album are shaky and tattered, worn from the boggy distortion that weighs them down. The vocal duties (labeled loosely) fluctuate between poetic warbling and screaming chants of catharsis, adding depth to the record. This aspect is especially necessary and redeeming, it seems, because the messages of hate and anger infused in lines like, “The stomping feet of waltzing hypocrites pave the way of a brave tomorrow. Choke the throat of passion and sorrow,”
requires some sphericity so the album doesn’t come off flat. Instead, the dynamism on Document #8
is vivid. It’s an utterly dark-hearted album, but every so often a trilling blaze of profundity erupts from the murky undertones, like flashes of light among the leaden ambience that inhabits the record. Luckily, pg. 99 are also adept at avoiding the pitfalls of the genre.
Visit Circle Takes The Square’s contentious As the Roots Undo
, for instance: a stupendously emotional and prominent screamo album in its own right, but entirely different than Document #8
. Every blight and blemish on As the Roots Undo
is where this document excels. Pretentious or not, the build-ups and intros performed by Circle Takes the Square are squarely of their own invention, as pg. 99 are consistently more raw and visceral-- instead of taking a 2-minute windup before tossing a pitch they pummel the batter with three fastballs in succession. The unadulterated intensity of “Punk Rock In The Wrong Hands” is particularly affecting, communicating a deep sense of isolation and imprisonment, but it is the brevity and band’s ability to cram so much substance into so little space (calling on their Born Against roots to do so) that truly shows their genius. The tenacity of Document #8
, as demonstrated by the unrelenting music and its obvious hardcore punk influences, makes the album a true behemoth in the world of screamo. Let’s not kid ourselves, many a band have released an album overflowing with energy and emotion like Document #8
, though. The true difference lies in pg. 99’s propensity to do so. As rugged as the guitar lines are, they also retain a catchy spiritedness that’s difficult not to latch on to. Dissonant and uncompromising as it may be, somehow the album retains a certain memorability that is unique in the screamo scene-- moments like the passionate call to arms in the intro “Punk Rock In The Wrong Hands.”
You have to get the butcher at the butcher shop. You have to get the local army-recruiting officer. You have to let them know that you think they are shit.
It sounds absurd on paper, almost self-parodical. Yet, the bombast and sincerity of Document #8
is as towering as a tidal wave. There’s little study involved, as pg. 99’s genius on Document #8
is never derivative or calculated, even. With little grace and tons of pulsing energy, Document #8
propels a brooding wave of ferocity that crashes through screamo and all of punk music, the ripples of which are still felt vividly today.