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Friday, July 04, 2008

CD Review: Venomous Concept - Poisoned Apple

Venomous Concept - Poisoned Apple
2008 Century Media Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

In 2004, an underground meeting of the minds featuring Shane Embury and Danny Herrera of reknowned grind sovereigns Napalm Death, along with Brutal Truth vocalist Kevin Sharp and The Melvins' Buzz Osbourne conjoined for a novel retreat down the old school streets of American punk and hardcore, the way it was proudly done in the eighties. We're talking little-to-no posturing and a straight-up dedication to smash mouth riffs, belching yelps and wonderfully cluttery rhythms. Bridging their influences in grind, death metal and punk rock, Venomous Concept's debut album Retroactive Abortion was a meat pizza of Black Flag, Agent Orange, Black Market Baby and Napalm Death served out of some Manhattan locals-only after hours joint.

Although Buzz Osbourne from The Melvins isn't around for Venomous Concept's second go-round with Poisoned Apple, the certainly appreciable trade-in of Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth and SOD bassist Dan Lilker this time is a no-brainer congential fit, eliminating any possible deficiencies on the low end of Venomous Concept's chunky punk sessions by Osbourne's absence.

Honestly, Poisoned Apple (which could very well be an intended nod to Poison Idea, one of the paving stones of hardcore that Venomous Concept also bears some resemblence to) wields more of the same largely-abbreviated crust-laden course crashing for a sometimes hilariously reckless sound that also conspires towards more brutal measures at times.

Still, the filler slices of Venomous Concept's hardcore hoagie are decidedly punk-oriented, even as they jackknife into Napalm Death territory on "Every Mother's Son," "Toxic Kiss," "Three" and the aptly-titled "Chaos!" Despite the annihilation principles of these blazing trainwrecks filled with guttural (and gut-busting for the listener's purposes) bellowing, Poisoned Apple, like Retroactive Abortion and their split releases beforehand, is more in the vein of traditional hardcore and punk rawk before it became infiltrated by exploiters (not The Exploited, assuredly) looking to dime out a mallrat fashion trend. No matter how fast Venomous Concept goes on this thing, they still keep a firm clutch on the punk influences that brought them all into the game in the first place.

Venomous Concept rips through "Life" and "Screwball" as if hanging with the DRI guys in the basement during the recording of Dealing With It, and they tighten the wheels of their skateboard-minded "Water Cooler," as they drift into the meaner territories of Carnivore with "White Devil" and "Artist Friendly." Venomous Concept also creates hybrids of their respective tastes and backgrounds by turning "Three" into a molar-grinding thrashfest after slinking along on the bobbing bass lines of Dan Lilker, as they alternate "Hero" with swaps of grind and slightly slower moshing rhythms. Still, the bottom line of Venomous Concept's prospectus is to bring the noise punk style and they deliver solidly on "Workers Unite," "Pri," "A Case of the Mondays" and "Drop Dead."

As Poisoned Apple is a labor of love project by four long-established noise makers, by all means expect conventionalism to be tossed out the door. Venomous Concept aren't pretty, nor do they attempt to be. Instead, they offer a sometimes sensory shot of retroactive hardcore after licking their greasy fingers clean of the oil-soaked cheese and tomato sauce before plugging in and playing to an imaginary slam pit before them in their loud-ass rumpus room. A slice of pandemonium, if you please, hold the onions...

Rating: ****

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