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Monday, June 13, 2016

NInety Pound Wuss -- Where Meager Die of Self Interest


8/10

Album covers are important, or used to be important. Ninety Pound Wuss' self-titled debut album features a bright yellow cartoon cover, promising fast punk songs and good times. The blue-hued cover for Where Meager Die of Self Interest signifies something...different.
The difference between these freshman and sophomore albums s is heard immediately. Opening track, "Backwards Thinking" starts with an awesome, iconic drum and bass grove that soon adds stabs of guitar and Jeff Suffering speaking in the background...and then all hell breaks loose. The speed-punk of the debut album is here unleashed, but it is far meaner, Suffering's vocals tortured screams instead of the more jubilant yelping of the previous album...but then the song changes gears again. At the minute mark, "Backwards Thinking" falls into a slow, dirty, head-bobbing groove, before reviving the intro and exploding into the punk section once again to violently close the song.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of fast, two-minute punk songs here, and while they're darker, some are still a bit fun. Suffering can still give a snotty impression of Johnny Rotten meets Mike Herrera when he wants to, but he and Ninety Pound Wuss are too restless here to do the same thing for very long. This makes for a cacophonously diverse album, featuring Suffering's angriest lyrics yet, many of which seem to breathe fire toward those who would attacks or shun the weak and oppressed. His anarchist Christian ideals are still on his sleeve, but these are undoubtedly the words of a more mature man than the Suffering of self-titled.
Most importantly, though, or most important to me and my friends back when Where Meager Die of Self Interest wasn't a nearly twenty-year old album, there is a song here called "Queen Maggot."
"Queen Maggot" is a microcosm of the entire album, kicking off with another iconic bass and drum groove, punctuated by some cool guitar harmonics. Then controlled chaos breaks out, with Suffering screaling (I don't know, I just made it up) like he's being jabbed in the gut with a lit torch, before the song breaks into yet another sweet groove, slows to almost nothing, then ignites into no-longer-controlled chaos.

To speak more bluntly, there's a huge leap musically and lyrically here. Where Meager Die of Self Interest is a very cool record. I'm a big fan, and I really hope that this band's resume is one day rescued from obscurity. They were cool and different from your stereotypical mid-90's Tooth & Nail punk band. They tried valiantly to push the envelope. I must say, though, that the raw, unrefined vocals are an acquired taste. If you can either get behind them or get used to them, you will most likely enjoy this album. If you can't, you'll probably have to look elsewhere. Also, you'll probably want to skip the next review.

1997 Tooth & Nail Records
1. Backwards Thinking 2:39
2. Broken Circles 1:43
3. The Dawning Of This Night Divine 2:57
4. Queen Maggot 3:55
5. Heresy 2:00
6. Unscarred Act Of Trust 4:16
7. Senseless Accusations 2:04
8. The Party's Over 1:43
9. Sick And You're Wrong 1:38
10. Premonition 3:21
11. Last Time Lost Count 1:19
12. Junk 2:40
13. One Track Mind 2:17
14. Blank Stare 13:30

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