Review Summary: Purgatory Dance Party is Dog Fashion Disco by other means.
You know that look. Her eyes glazed over by meth, or lust, or both. Powerless, she lays bound at your feet, those doting eyes fixed intensely upon yours, or the light fitting above you, and beyond her muffled screams she could be mouthing anything, but until that gag is removed you’ll just have to assume it’s “I love you.” It’s in the eyes.
Well-oiled machine that they are, Polkadot Cadaver have built a career on the sort of romance best conducted in an abandoned warehouse during lunch. Back when they formed the ever-present core of Dog Fashion Disco, singer/guitarist Todd Smith and drummer John Ensminger courted the likes of Slayer, Mushroomhead and System of a Down, all the while justifying their reputation as Mr. Bungle’s even-more-fucked
up, metal-obsessed cousin. When Dog Fashion Disco called it quits in December of last year, the pair quickly hooked up again with guitarist Jasan Steppe, who’d joined the band for 2004’s Day Of The Dead
, and formed the studio-only project Polkadot Cadaver. Rather than acting out their wildest Axl Rosian fantasies, the three-piece knocked out an album in a matter of months, and the impressively-titled Purgatory Dance Party
sounds more like a “band” record than either of their last two records.
To recap for those at the back, Polkadot Cadaver are a little screwed up- in a playful way rather than a Varg way- in both the musical and lyrical senses. Lyrically, Purgatory Dance Party
walks that oh-so-thin line between serial killing, sexual perversion and virulent anti-religious sentiments, the issues most of us struggle with daily. Opening track ‘Haunted Holiday’ sets the tone with jingle bells, subtly evoking The Nightmare Before Christmas
and all of its Elfmanic connotations through gentle, Elliott Smith-inspired tones. ‘Chloroform Girl’ hits unusually close to home for this writer (under the stairs, to be exact), a deceptively sweet number. Opening with the seemingly innocuous line (and you’ll see why the Elliott Smith comparisons ring true), “your eyes look like bullet holes / it must be all that crying,”
‘Chloroform Girl’ quickly takes a turn like its intoxicated subject, building to a chorus which raises the points, each of them relevant: “Don't let me catch you sleeping again / you're only alive because I like you / it's been 3 years since you've seen the sunlight / but I know you're having fun / bound, gagged and chained up in my basement.”
The rest of the album is a little more various in its choice of sounds, ranging from furious thrash riffs and piercing, Botch-like grind sections through softer noises like the ska-pop hop of ‘A Wolf In Jesus Skin,’ familiar circus themes during ‘What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen",’ church organs amid the trashy punk rock of ‘Deathwish,’ and the scrotum-defying Al Green antics of ‘Brainwash.’ ‘Pure Bedlam For Halfbreeds’ boils over with schizoid ragtime piano, and the effect is surely the one Avenged Sevenfold would have been aiming for with their unfortunate accident ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven,’ but it was lamentably not to be. One pitfall of this type of music is that it can seem an awful lot more impressive on first listening than it actually is, and repeat plays of Purgatory Dance Party
reveal that it’s pretty formulaic at its core. Nevertheless, the songs and themes are varied enough to hold interest across its however-many-minutes, and if it comes across as a mere collage of other artists’ sounds, it’s a very good collage and worthy of display at robinfinck.com.