Battle of Mice Triad (split with Red Sparowes and Made Out of Babes)

[Neurot; 2006]

Styles: depends on which band, but all carry a pretense of heaviness
Others: dude … peeps the Hydrahead/Neurot rosters

Three bands that couldn't make less sense together, one great EP. Who knew? Certainly not Gumshoe. However, sniffing around the Neurot compound often yields unexpected treasures, and Triad is no exception, a prize worthy of... YOU! Yeah, you! I know I haven't talked directly to you, the reader, in awhile, but you TOTALLY fucking deserve this even more than a young Lee Majors would, and I mean that. [sound of coffee machine making you a swell latte in the background]

Now fuck... my... ass, where to start... Why not with Red Sparowes, everyone's favorite misspelled post-rock band disguised as a doom-rock band? After all, their relative popularity was likely the reason they grace this EP in the first place. Contributing two live tracks from their tight lil' debut, Sparowes continue to offer what so many asstastic instrumental bands fail to deliver: consistency. They don't dilly-dally around with effects, tinker with painfully long build-ups or rack the ears with distortion; their mission is the slow, steady climb of twin guitars, drums, and bass that sustain a morbid mood through repetition and an urgent, last-minute-before-the-apocalypse drone. And the bass player, my oh my.. unlike most bassists of the genre, who seem bored to tits and obsessed with one- or two-note patterns, Greg Burns kicks out the jams like a prog Rob Tyner, proving that a willing bass hound can not only accentuate but actually dominate an instrumental arrangement. Mr. Burns is a bass-lick tycoon who hits his strings like an ass-kicking typhoon; I cannot emphasize this enough. Red Sparowes rule all sorts of ass, and though a live setting does little to shed light on their material – quite the opposite in fact, as their drummer occasionally falls a titter out of step – their spot on any compilation is welcome to this reviewer's ears.

Next we have two tracks from a band that will catch you by surprise: Battle Of Mice. Pairing evocatively delivered X-on-wrists girl vocals with icy keys and a plodding beat, Mice mince any wince-worthy associations you may have with Neurot, delivering a sound that is leaving me scrambling for a point of reference. Am I this much of a metal ignoramus? Why are Walls Of Jericho – safe harbor for any reviewer looking for female-fronted hardcore similes – the only band coming to mind? Well, take it for what it's worth; Battle Of Mice stumped a reviewer that prides himself on one-stop band-comparison shopping.

Now on to Made Out Of Babies; if only they were worthy of their placement on this EP. Fronted by Julie Christmas, who also helms Battle Of Mice, MOOB seem to serve exclusively as a vehicle for X-mas' fiery attitude, and don't fare nearly as well. She has a great voice, no doubt, but these two tracks don't really hold together, nothing connecting the randomly selected riffs and rhythms to one another. One thing I DEFINITELY love are Julie's harrowing screams, as nothing hits the spot quite like a bloodthirsty fem-scream. If vocal gymnastics are your favorite event in the Hxcxrx Games, you might just be made out of babies. If not, then... well, you know what I mean.

1. Alone and Unaware The Landscape Was Transformed In Front of Our Eyes
2. Sleep and Dream
3. The Lamb and The Labrador
4. Proud To Drown
5. Gunt
6. Buildings Began To Stretch Wide Across The Sky, And The Air Filled With A Reddish Glow

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