I've been busy getting my end of year lists organised recently, so I’m a little late writing about the debut releases from twisted noise-maker Huge Mutant and punk trio Total Ruin. (Still, better late than never, right?) Both bands are from Wellington, New Zealand, and although they're wildly different beasts musically, Huge Mutant and Total Ruin share one crucial commonality: they both make a hell of an uncompromising racket.
Huge Mutant: S/T
Huge Mutant is a solo venture from punk stalwart John Dimery: a recent interviewee right here at ol' Six Noises. Musically, Dimery's latest project sees him stepping outside the overtly punk rock sphere where he’s recorded a lot of raucous noise in the past. Although, Huge Mutant is still definitely (and defiantly) punk in attitude.
Huge Mutant isn’t Dimery’s first foray outside punk’s musical borders. His necro alter ego, The Hag, deals in deviant, lo-fi crypt rock. And Huge Mutant’s self-titled debut is fairly dark and demented too. Dimery contorts and distorts no-wave, minimalist synth and unnerving electronics throughout. And a cover of Suicide’s "Dream Baby Dream" feels very much at home on Huge Mutant's debut.
In fact, the confrontational nature of Suicide clearly aligns with Huge Mutant’s wilful unconventionality. And Suicide have injected a fair share of influence into the dissonant, unsettling noise gathered here. Much of that noise is wonderfully grotesque as well. But the album’s final track, "Melt My Remains in a Tub of Lime", displays unexpected subtlety, showcasing a whole other side of Dimery’s creative talents.
Huge Mutant represents some of Dimery’s most fascinating work yet. Here's hoping there's more warped snyth and noisescaping in the pipeline.
Total Ruin: Demo
I don’t have very much information to share about Total Ruin: the DIY trio don’t play the self-promotion or social media game. The band’s Bandcamp page describes their sound as "dirty punk", and Total Ruin features members who’ve played in bands like Poverty & Spit and legendary NZ sludge punks Meth Drinker. And that's about where my background knowledge of the band ends.
What I can tell you is that Total Ruin’s first demo is a total blast. (And it’s easily one of my favourite NZ punk releases this year.) The band's churning, bass-driven assaultive sound carves out a very bleak scene. And while there's plenty of "dirty punk" here, a far more accurate description of the sludgy noise you’ll encounter on the demo’s tracks would be fucking filthy, knuckle-dragging punk.
Throughout Total Ruin's demo, primitive (and often dirge-like) riffs and blown-out vocals claw their way through a thick wall of distortion. It’s all maximum crudity and harshness, both tonally and texturally, and that super-heavy, cement-mixer bass serves as a great hook. Throw all the other unsanitary ingredients into the mix, and you’ve got exactly the kind of red-lining and red-raw punk I enjoy most.
Normally, that would mean I’d say something like, "highly recommended!", right about here. But it just feels wrong to offer 'upbeat’ applause for a demo that’s so utterly wretched. I'll go with abrasive tunes for an abrasive world. Or perfectly ugly punk. Either works. Grab your copy now. Or else.