Review Summary: A hilariously tongue-in-cheek send-up of the pop punk explosion that, although a little too over-the-top at times, will leave you in stitches.
Following his tour with Steve Vai
for the disastrous Sex & Religion
album, Devin Townsend
established himself as one of the busiest little beavers in the metal world. One of the first projects he embarked on was this one-off number, Punky Bruster. Written in the fallout of the pop punk explosion caused by Green Day's breakthrough Dookie
, it's a deviously clever satire of the decidedly anti-punk success and sound of the genre.
The story begins with a phlegm-filled narrator introducing us to Cryptic Coroner, the death metal band that would soon morph into Punky Bruster "when they realized they were making no money." From the start, you know you're not listening to a guy who takes things seriously, but it only gets better from here. The band launches into some unintelligible blast beats before the guitarist breaks a string and the band plays punk to cover for him. From here on out the album sets itself up as a constant juxtaposition between the DYI, extreme ethos of the death metal community and our "heroes' " exploitation of a commercially friendly genre for fame. A song like "EZ$" has some of the funniest lyrics of the post-Zappa world, and Devin's vocals are impressive throughout.
While the spoken word segments can get tedious, mercifully they are placed after a song is completed on the same CD track and not dumped onto the beginning of the next, so they are easily skippable. This feature was sorely missed by the fourth playing of Ziltoid the Omniscient
. Nevertheless, a lot of them are still funny to this day, and the conversations held in death metal grunts were surely an inspiration for the character Nathan Explosion from Metalocalypse. "Heinous Anus" is the one song that fails to do it for me; while the rest of the album is skewering punk, this is pure toilet humor. It was funny once or twice but it'll soon be the skipped track of the album.
The story concludes with the band winning a Grammy (described rather perfectly as the perfect blend of music and money-making) despite only being together for a few weeks, and they play a self-centered ballad for their loyal fans. However, the album isn't done yet. Skip through about ten minutes of silence to the two hidden tracks "The Girls Next Door" and "Larry's O." Why these are such an inconvenience to get to is a mystery, as they are possibly the funniest and most savage songs on the whole disc. "The Girls Next Door" in particular is genius, with lines like "If what it takes to rock/Is to suck some corporate cock/Well hey everybody, we'll be the girls next door" and the utterly brilliant "Come on down to the Bruster spend-along/Buy a t-shirt that'll make you feel like a member of an elite clique/while paying for our
Overall, it's one of the funniest punk albums to be crafted since the heyday of the Dead Kennedys, though it's more metal than punk (obvious when you consider Devin's usual day jobs with his solo work and with Strapping Young Lad
). You can only get it through his web site, but I highly recommend it to anyone who didn't get the fuss over all those sellout punk groups and even to those who did but could laugh at a good joke.
- Hilarious lyrics
- Catchy pop punk riffs in their own right
- Devin's powerful screams
- The spoken word sections can get boring after multiple listens
- "Heinous Anus" stops being funny rather quickly