Review Summary: A clever take on the growing alienation of the Digital Age built around blistering noise rock.
It seems impossible to start the conversation about Portland's Gaytheist without addressing their polarizing name. Whether you find it hilarious or not, there's a meaning behind this cleverly coined phrase that clearly references the group's smartly dressed main man Jason Rivera. Gaytheist don't take themselves too seriously though. The trio's winning formula for a song reads: “Jason has a quick story to tell, and must do so over rad riffs.” That appropriately sums up their happy-go-lucky attitude, yet the fact that Rivera's sarcastic lyrics are accompanied with a dazzling combination of styles shouldn't go unnoticed. The outfit fuses the filth and fast tempos of garage punk with the overbearing heaviness of sludge metal to thrilling effect. Rivera makes this mesh-up accessible with high-pitched vocals that oscillate between noise rock fury and sheer pop. Even though Gaytheist are stylistically rather dissimilar from Torche, both bands share the love for bright, pop-inflicted melodies.
Hold Me... But Not So Tight
feels like a companion piece to last year's amazing Stealth Beats
. Boasting 12 songs in less than 26 minutes, that record was a brazen exercise in efficient song craft that amazed with deft precision and no-frills, gonzo approach. The frenetic drumming of Nick Parks and the sludgy bass lines of Tim Hoff provided a perfect backdrop for Rivera's guitar acrobatics. The new album effectively replicates this style, coloring it with more focused, topical lyrics. In the 34-second opener “Starring in ‘The Idiot,’” Rivera confesses to feeling simultaneously “surrounded and desperately alone,” introducing a record whose trenchant critique is pointed at the growing alienation of the Digital Age. “60 Easy Payments” follows suit, mocking the consumerist yearning for “the latest gadget-y, gizmo-y gobbledygook,” whereas “MANhattan” depicts an utopian vision of metropolis where people refuse to speak to one another, anxious of interrupting their tweets.
The tunes come and go at a rapid pace, bursting with strong grooves, memorable hooks and unexpected flourishes. The brevity prevents many of these cuts from going on too long, making for a truly visceral listen. However, on a couple of occasions it does seem like the musical idea could have been more fleshed out and further developed. The fact that the most ravishing track on the album clocks in more than 4 minutes is the best proof. “Spread 'Em” feels restless with its ingenious transitions which revolve around a plethora of bombastic riffs. The number's so grand in scope that oddly reminisces Tool with its gargantuan onslaught. What's more, it shows that Gaytheist's potential still remains largely untapped. Hold Me... But Not So Tight
certainly sees the trio growing in maturity with its timely lyrical theme. Although the album doesn't exactly match the manic energy of its predecessor, the trio's distinctly melodic spin on noise rock remains intensely pleasurable.