Menacing twang from the East Coast where surf may bring a frown but cannot hide a smile.
Although Viktor Venom is an originator of American crust punk, the guitarist just as well knows how to ride the crest of a wave, music-wise, and that’s what he’s been doing with this band since the early Noughties. What made it special was a wonderful defiance which feels so opposed to the lifestyle leaning of traditional surf, a trait outlined on the group’s third album as “Kreepy Krawl”: the marching track’s title is a perfect capture of their approach to an all instrumental mix of original pieces and covers. Where others would go for a Dick Dale ditty to tell a story without a word, the NYC quartet whip up a mighty take on such rarity as “Three Blue Stars” by THE LAUNCHERS, a long-forgotten Japanese combo, or power up Bert Weedon’s “Ghost Train” – in a hectic fashion – to complement their own feverish creations.
There’s arresting eeriness in Rob Morrison’s Farfisa-like organ that kicks the record off to a cinematic start before the title cut is turned into a cauldron of fuzz, laced with an Eastern stumble of a solo, but while Pete Martinez’s drums propel “The Sinister Urge” towards heavy horror, a slider roll gives it a sci-fi slant. Yet where the gloomy blues carries “Concussion” down the rootsy road, “Head One” has a modern, metallic ring to it, and such a retrofuturism may explain how the rumble of “Instigator” comes on deliciously hazy and filigree at the same time, or why “Wake Up Screaming” marries comedy to a horror show. Summing it up with “The Thing” – a streamlined and sharp slice of guitar delight – the band leave excitement hang in the air like a sweet smoke, and that would be really aggravating’: to wait a few more years until these rhythms get into play again.