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Locust - The Locust EP

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Artist: Locust

Album: The Locust EP

Label: GSL

Review date: Apr. 21, 2004

They may occasionally dress up in masks and straightjackets, and hence may prompt comparisons with Nu Metal disguise-artists Slipknot. But San Diego’s The Locust (Justin Pearson, Gabe Serbian, Joseph Karam, and Robert Bray in the latest incarnation) are – at least methodologically – more indebted to the anonymous Residents. That is to say, they are vicious deconstructionists and playful havoc-wreakers, working in the general area of thrash and metal but whose songs come across more like small explosive devices (strategically placed to destroy anything like “art” or “expression”) than anything else. Their tendency to play extremely brief tracks which howl out at you in much the same way as the almost indecipherable lyrics most likely will generate comparisons to their buddies Fantômas (with whom The Locust have toured). But here there’s less concerning with wink-wink genre hopping or ironic distance; The Locust, whatever their subversive intentions, want to bring the rock.

This wee EP – a 3” minidisk – is a reissue of some of The Locust’s earliest tracks, along with two previously unreleased numbers. The total time is only about 11 minutes (and their “full-length” Plague Soundtracks is only 21 minutes; shit, you could release a complete The Locust “box set” on a single disc!). The dominant idiom here is certainly thrash, or – given the brevity of most tracks – what’s fondly known as blipcore (remember those half-second Napalm Death “songs”?). And though I can’t understand any of their lyrics (they’re reprinted in the wee booklet, but the damn record’s over before I can get there), the band has long contended that their subject matter is “self-political” (a term I’m not sure I quite understand, but which I imagine is linked to the old “the personal is political” catchphrase). The music, most of which is initially from the late ‘90s, sounds more raw and crazed than some of their recent work (which is a more refined version of raw and crazed), but still features a mad concoction of speed metal, electronic noise assaults, and hardcore thrash; overdriven, lo-fi keyboards mix it up with splatter-beat drums and churning guitar and vocal terror.

The Locust’s relentlessness, their shock value, and the sheer sweaty intensity of their blasts of sound inspire all kinds of hallucinogenic prose in most writers: in particular, images of psychotic monkeys abound in The Locust reviews. But it’s hard to feel too threatened by music that is so over the top, and which seems to recognize its own absurdity. In other words, for all the densely-packed arrangements and angry barking, The Locust have a sense of humor: after all, one of these tunes is entitled “Halfway to a worthless ideal arrangement (an interlude to a discontinued sarcastic harmony . . . yea whatever)." Whether it’s that or the heavy energy that brings you in, don’t miss out on The Locust.

By Jason Bivins

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