Genghis Tron - Dead Mountain Mouth
My introduction to the curious Genghis Tron came while procrastinating school work on a Sunday afternoon. I'm pretty sure I was browsing the mp3 of the week articles on [url=http://www.punknews.org]punknews.org[/url] when I saw the funny name and instantly decided I had
to hear this band at all costs. I quickly linked to the Crucial Blast website and listened to the song "Arms." I loved it. I downloaded it. I listened to it over 40 times that day while doing work. I listened to it to many times that I also accidently listened to the next alphabetical song (Geto Boys' "Dam
n It Feels Good to be a Gangsta") over 10 times. I was addicted. I promptly got the CD and listened to that on repeat for a few weeks, and then after completely digesting it, I shot it out the other end, and didn't listen to it for over a year.
Like my anecdote suggests, Genghis Tron is immediately catchy. On the EP "Arms" was on, Cloak of Love
Genghis Tron was about a 50-50 split between grind and dancey pop. This mixture is excitingly foreign, even to those who like HORSE the band and An Albatross. Their songs play out as if a cool, albeit diverse and spazzy dance track is being played the whole time, and at certain punctuated moments, a grind band will play on top of the poppy background, accenting and elaborating on the background song. The result is a back and forth tug of war between a really bouncy Daft Punk-like danciness and a grinding, fast, and metallic grind not unlike the fastest moments of The Great Redneck Hope. It's insanely fun and all that, but once the novelty of the premise wears off, the songs feel just solid, but not great. That though, was an EP, and I realized that for Genghis Tron to release an LP, they would have to extend and evolve their schtick to be more substantial beyond the initial "whoa" reaction.
Their first full LP, Dead Mountain Mouth
does "evolve" the premise, though I don't know if I'm content with the end result. To explain the evolution, Genghis Tron took away the stratification of the parts. On Cloak of Love
the poppy and grind parts were alternated back and forth very quickly producing an epileptic effect. Here, as if aware of how much they jumped around on that EP, the styles are blended together more seamlessly. There are full tracks of the grind and full tracks of the dance, but most of the songs feature the two styles coexisting or blending together instead of just playing off each other call and response style. Clearly, that enables the band to focus on the effect of having a spectrum of intensities and catchiness to work with and on some tracks like the poppy "Badlands" we hear metallic guitar riffs peaking through the electronic foreground ever so slightly to keep the song fresh and exciting. The inverse of that exists on "The Folding Road" where shimmering keyboard can be heard adding to and breaking through the grind, which pretty much dominates the song. Even the weird techno breakdown around 1:10 is too heavy to be electronic, and too light to be grind, which exhibits the degree to which Genghis Tron has mushed together their two contrasting styles.
However, as I mentioned earlier, I am a little dissatisfied with this evolution. I guess the new overall flavor of the album can be considered more tasteful or more seamless, but it ends up making the album sound a little too uniform. The reason I listen to Genghis Tron is not to hear a well written blend of two odd genres, but to hear an awkward and forced rendition of the two simultaneously. I loved the spastic jumps of Cloak of Love
that aren't nearly as present on Dead Mountain Mouth.
Also, what's even sadder, is that I don't think this "evolution" really made their music more substantial. It's not as if by blending the styles together, they magically became as profound and respectable Converge or Dillinger Escape Plan. Dead Mountain Mouth
has more extended passages similar to crescendos found in post-hardcore and emo music (like on "Dead Mountain Mouth" or "Lake of Virgins") as if the album was trying to be more emotionally appealing or profound or epic or whatever. These moments, while intense and nice in their own way, don't suit the feel that Genghis Tron succeeds the most with. Genghis is best off being goofy and fun, which was more present on their EP.
As an end note, I'd like to say two things. Firstly, I've implied that Genghis Tron intended to be more serious or epic or something, when in reality, I really don't know their intent. I just know what I'm hearing on the CD. I sense that there was some shift away from the non sequitirs that made Cloak of Love
fun for me, but they may or may not have been prompted by an attempt to write better or more profound songs. That is just speculative. Secondly, though I've criticized this album a fair amount, I still like it. This band is fun and still strikingly original. I recommend Cloak of Love
over this LP, but it is no way bad. Genghis Tron has a nerdy mix that similar bands like An Albatross can't even touch, and it makes Genghis one of the few grind bands that I think are legit, as opposed to just a novelty. Sorry The Great Redneck Hope, but it's true.