Review Summary: "At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind," declares the Sovereign Lord.
Look, I don’t need to be the one to tell you that the Bible is ***ing wild. Regardless of how you feel about Christianity, it’s hard to deny just how interesting those passages can be. Bloody and shocking, the documentation of God’s holy wrath against us flawed humans gives pulp literature a run for its money. Stories of a king forced to watch as everything he loves is taken and murdered - just before his eyes are gouged out as he is bound to bronze (2 Kings 25:1-7), the slaying of young men and the taking of virgins as spoils of victory (Numbers 31:13–18), and the Lord vividly describing his vast trail of bloodshed - staining his robes red (Isaiah 63:2–6). These stories are just the surface of the extreme acts of the Holy Trinity and the flawed beings created in his image, with these three excerpts and more documented in Bible Songs I
. The ambitious EP from New York noise punk outfit The Austerity Program attempts to recontextualize these passages in modern speech, expressions, and scenarios. So, while 2 Samuel 6:16–23 may not have originally mentioned assless chaps and cod pieces, the basic gist of the story stays the same.
In addition to lyrical recreations of these excerpts, The Austerity Program - Justin Foley, Thad Calabrese, and one pissed-off drum machine - manage to emulate the vigorous violence, tension, and fear of the Bible. The side of the Holy Text that many choose to forget is where the industrial pummeling of Bible Songs I
lands, bringing the blood and pain depicted on old pages to life. Repetitive guitar riffs and thumping, artificial percussion build tension on a track like “Numbers 31:13-18” until the climax of the story hits. Then God’s will breaks loose, unleashing the fury of a thousand angels in the form of an incredibly thick bass tone and stabbing, shrill riffs. This build-up composition and uneasy atmosphere leads to an uneasy and unique listening experience, one that is much more than just Big Black or Swans with a Bible.
Much like the feelings of dread and confusion that these original passages can elicit from readers, Bible Songs I
is wholly (heh) enveloping on an intense atmospheric level. Equally provocative and hard-hitting, these reinterpretations of some of the Bible’s most controversial and ignored sections are simple, yet ingenious, reminders of our creator’s most vengeful side. All the while, The Austerity Program manages to dodge feelings of hamfistedness or naivety. This EP is much more of a borderline-satirical depiction than a straight-forward bashing of Christianity. Foley and Calabrese are definitely inspired by the Good Book, but not by any of the wholesome and loving parts. The Austerity Program aren’t above the wrath of God - they’re just really compelled by it. Plus, judging by the “I” in this releases name, it seems obvious there are more passages to be recreated through the power of really ***ing scary noise punk.