Review Summary: It isn't very pretty what a town without pity can do, quoth the foetus forevermore. This album is a bleak, black comic work of genius. This hack explains why:
Nail from Foetus is unquestionably a complex, multi layered piece of work. It's one that's worthy of serious study. Mr Jim Thirlwell (also JG Thirlwell, Clint Ruin, Steroid Maximus, Manorexia, Baby Manhole Cover, Ilikegivingmyselfnames and enough other pseudonyms to make the Wu Tang Clan blush) will surely in years to come be studied as a master of blending genres together to make something unrecognisable. He's a guy who blends sick jokes with doo wop, avante garde modern classical, metal, industrial, rockabilly and any other genre you can shake a stick at.
There's fun for all the family on this here platter. Some small children may leave the room screaming, the elderly may tut, and your Coldplay loving cousin will, as ever, be confused. However, this is surely an endorsement. Having sprung out of Australia along with Nick Cave, Rowland S Howard, Mick Harvey and other 80's born f***ed up geniuses, Thirlwell was a musically promiscuous kinda guy. He worked with Coil, Soft Cell, Mark Almond, Lydia Lunch (Courtney Love with more talent and better looking) and Orange Juice. The sheer range on display here is a taster for the album.
The album begins with a truly beautiful instrumental piece worthy of Bernard Herrman at his more restrained, before going straight into a song that sounds like The Cramps jamming with Tom Waits circa Bone Machine. The Throne Of Agony is even perversely catchy, as is a lot of the album if you can look past the hilariously bleak lyrics. These lyrics are the kind of lyrics delivered by some black metal acts, but the difference is they take this seriously. Thirlwell has an evil grin firmly in place.
! sounds like the title, it's just a quick burst. Pigswill follows, and it's again lyrically unpleasant in the best way, and resembles Halber Mensch era Einsturzende Neubauten if Tom Waits had taken vocals. The vocal resemblance to the man is uncanny, I wonder if they've heard each other" Descent Into The Inferno was performed on The Tube and Muriel Gray (she who made an idiot of herself in front of Scott Walker) was told prior to the performance "A woman's place is on my face". Descent Into The Inferno is again perversely catchy, going from a moody piece of semi-industrial-doo-wop-paranoid-showtune to a frantic rush of many instruments and things that make noises beneath Thirlwell screaming "GORY GLORY HALLELUJAH!".
See the bad puns are part of the appeal. Enter The Exterminator has a musical pun in the shape of an organ solo that's a clear rip from Hall Of The Mountain King. This takes it's place amid the usual litany of semi-comic torture. DI-1-9026 is the story of a serial killer and once more many genres crash into each other and fight messily. We then get a Wagnerian instrumental entitled The Overture From Pidgeon Come. This is followed by Private War, the track which makes his industrial leanings clearest to my eyes and ears. (Eyes" Synthaesia!).
DI-1-9026 is a classic, and one hell of a way to end an album. Built as it is around the bleak yet inspiring taunt of "I can do any goddamned thing I want!". This is a bloodstained revenge anthem which ends the album as it began. Completely over the top and all the more brilliant for it. This album is a work of genius, surely. Many people owe their careers to it. Ministry for one. Nine Inch Nails are another. As a sidenote, if Trent Reznor allowed his bleak sense of humour to appear in his music, another work to at least equal this would be produced, as both Trent and Jim are one man bands who can build awe inspiring layers of sound.
If you're not into industrial music, get it. If you are, get it. If you like rockabilly, or avant garde music, or metal, or punk, or....the list goes on. You will not regret accquiring this album. Even if you don't like it, it will be a new experience. Frank Zappa would be proud, he really would.