(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Canada Songs (2003), 6.5/10
Hell Songs (2006), 6/10
Daughters (2010), 6.5/10
You Won't Get What You Want (2018), 7.5/10
Alexis Marshall: House of Lull House of When (2021), 5/10

Rhode Island's Daughters, fronted by vocalist Alexis Marshall, started out in the concise tradition of grindcore on the four-song EP Daughters (2002), featuring drummer Jon Syverson, bassist Pat Masterson and guitarist Jeremy Wabiszczewicz.

New guitarist Nicholas Sadler significantly changed their sound on the ten brief songs of the 11-minute mini-album Canada Songs (Robotic Empire, 2003). Superficially, this work is the musical equivalent of carpet bombing, but the epileptic and chaotic screeching and banging of grindcore is coupled with the atonal noise-rock of Sonic Youth, the no wave aesthetic of DNA, and post-rock a` la Don Caballero. The microscopic Fur Beach and Jones From Indiana are are pure impetus with no meaning and no purpose. I Slept With the Daughters and All I Got Was this Lousy Song Written About Me manages to be even more grating and childish, but the peak of their anti-art is reached with the frantic repetitive guitar chords of Nurse, Would you Please Prep the Patient for Sexual Doctor and especially the manic guitar vertigoes of And Then the C.H.U.D.S. Came. There is also a bit of (sinister) humor in the ferocious merry-go-round of Damn Those Blood Suckers and Their Good Qualities and in the clownish prog-rock overtones of Mike Morowitz The Fantasy Fuck and of The Ghost with the Most.

The 23-minute mini-album Hell Songs (Hydra Head, 2006), which debuted new bassist Samuel Walker, is quite a bit more musical. The pace has slowed down dramatically, and Marshall's epileptic screeching has evolved into a form of manic rambling that is both demented and stately, as demonstrated in the martial and spastic Fiery. The band now excels at a kind of chaos that couples scruffy jagged guitar noise and erratic drumming, notably in Recorded Inside A Pyramid and Providence By Gaslight. The next step us is to produce otherwordly sounds, like they do in Hyperventilationsystem: guitar noise that sounds like turntable scratching and a machine gun, then a percussive epileptic jam, and subhuman tortured singing. There are "sophisticated" touches that demonstrate highly creative minds, like the madness of insect-like cello tones in X-Ray (less than one minute long) or the brief solo drumming interlude 80 seconds into Feisty Snakewoman. However, the album contains too many moments that sound either indulgent or simply redundant. All in all, one misses the concise format of Canada Songs, where not one second was wasted.

However, Daughters (Hydra Head, 2010), containing eight full-bodied songs, replete with melodic hooks, marked a complete change of aesthetic and ideology. The formidable sonic assault of Sweet Georgia Brown borrows from southern boogie as much as from Gun Club. The Hit unveils a hummable guitar riff amid all the cacophonous fervor.
Nonetheless, the band remained viable mainly because of its flagrant abominations. The explosive The Theatre Goer sounds like Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love played by voodoo demons on fire. The massive oscillating wall of sound of The First Supper is fueled by dissonant synth surges and pounding drums with industrial overtones (echoes of Cop Shoot Cop and Type O Negative). The anguished psychodrama of The Unattractive Portable Head does not even venture into punk-rock at all, and even throws a clapping dance beat and acid keyboards into the mix.

You Won't Get What You Want (2018), their first album in eight years, basically presented a whole new band. Marshall's sinister recitation (not really "singing") is now accompanied by tribal drumming, electronic effects and brutal guitars. City Song borrows from Suicide's threnodies and Throbbing Gristle's audio wasteland. Long Road No Turns is an expressionist melodrama propelled by Laibach's theatrical martial rhythms. The seven-minute Satan In The Wait is a tribal esoteric dance with Nick Cave-ian overones (and even a kitschy gothic melody worthy of an Italian horror movie of the 1970s). Perhaps the most demonic moment comes with The Lords Song, a relentless bombardment of evil vibrations with all the instruments banging in unison, including a violent electronic scratching sound. The Reason They Hate Me is a close second, a thundering industrial voodoobilly. Less Sex is instead the most sophisticated moment, a cross between the spiritual song of a century earlier (via Leonard Cohen) and goth-rock of the 1980s (Joy Division, Sisters Of Mercy). Even when it's a bit too magniloquent, like in Daughter or the confused seven-minute Ocean Song, the album is an intense experience. The old punkish energy pops up only in The Flammable Man that ends with all the instruments making as much noise as possible. This is the rare reunion that yields a better album than any recorded during the first incarnation.

Alexis Marshall debuted solo with the ferocious single Nature in Three Movements (2020) and the album House of Lull House of When (2021). The latter is devoted to viscerally screamed poetry (which is largely inscrutable) over a suffocating background of industrial noise and ominous percussion. It works pretty much only in Hounds in the Abyss and in They Can Lie There Forever, and, partially, in the psychotic "duet" with Lingua Ignota, Religion as Leader. The album is littered with harrowing sound effects but they rarely coalesce in a meaningful manner and the recitation is a major liability anyway.

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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