Review

Review

Revolting Cocks: SEX-O OLYMPIC-O - CD Review

There’s a lot to be said for creative consistency from an artist… especially if said artist’s preferred output is jammed full of wacked-out pervy wrongness and nuttier than a Stuckey’s pecan log (and I mean that in the most affectionate way). Such is the unique blessing of one Al Jourgensen – known mainly to industrial-metal fans as the founder of legendary band Ministry, but also a tirelessly genre-hopping jack-of-all-trades who’s had his dirty mitts on dozens of eccentric and envelope-smashing musical projects over the last two-plus decades.

Running a close second to Ministry in reputation, popularity and overall shock value has been the band Revolting Cocks (or RevCo, for those afraid to print out the whole thing), which Uncle Al co-founded in the mid-‘80s, and whose roster has included everyone from former Ministry members to artists like Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, Skinny Puppy’s Ogre, Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra and Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes (to name just a few) and has continued in some incarnation or another for nearly a quarter-century. Their fifth (and reportedly last) full-length album Sex-O Olympic-O finally slammed its way into stores this week, and your intrepid music writer – a longtime fan – was duty-bound to grab a copy…

Jourgensen has gone on record to declare Sex-O one of his personal favorites (if not the favorite) among all his musical ventures, and although I don’t share quite the same enthusiasm (Ministry is still number one in my rancid black heart), I’m inclined to agree that this is the Cocks' finest hour. It’s a double-shot of everything they do best: patently offensive lyrics, porno-riffic samples, dirty guitar riffs and grinding industrial beats. If you never liked that about them before, you’re not going to change your mind now. But if you’re into that signature dirty-minded groove, you’ll be rewarded with more of the same raunchy themes and post-apocalypse-burlesque showmanship, with the added plus of seriously solid production and RevCo’s tightest, most powerful sound to date.

Nearly five years after previous release Cocked & Loaded, Sex-O is the product of the band’s most current lineup – Jourgensen (mainly as producer), lead vocalist Josh Bradford, keyboardist Clayton Warbeck and guitarist Sin Quirin – all of whom originally banded in 2006 to be the opening act on Ministry’s “MasterBaTour,” and again for the now-defunct band’s final tour in 2008. (Revered bassist Paul Raven – of Prong and Killing Joke – was also once part of the team, but since his untimely death in 2007, Warbeck and Sin share bass duties.) The new team realized Jourgensen’s intention of handing off core instrumental & vocal chops to a younger, more energetic bunch who understand the RevCo philosophy of bad taste-meets-danceworthy-metal that drove works like Beers, Steers & Queers and Linger Ficken Good (and Other Barnyard Oddities). I’d say these dudes have the formula down pat.

Stylistically, these tracks are all over the map – and again, this comes as no surprise from a band known for tossing porn-music loops, hard techno synth bass lines and brash southern-rock riffs into a blender and forgetting to put the lid on before hitting the “liquefy” button. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear some decidedly Gothic flourishes this time around, confirming that even now this band has a few genuine and welcome surprises up their… well, you know.

I first heard a different mix of “Hookerbot 3000” on the Wicked Lake soundtrack, but the version that opens the album is far superior – a suitable opening salvo of sleaze that puts you in the perfect RevCo frame of mind, before immediately taking a hard left into Marilyn Manson-land for “Keys to the City,” all creepy baritone vocals and morbidly down-tuned riffage. “Red Parrot” then whiplashes you in a whole new direction with its greasy showboat shredding and vocals straight out of bad '80s hair-metal... but to its credit, it does feature the classic spoken line “Aw shit, I'm gonna die in this town, aren't I?”

Those '80s Gother-than-thou vocals are back for “Robo Banditos,” then crash headlong into cartoony Spanish lyrics... but again, a combination that seems as wrong as one of Shaggy's peanut-butter-and-anchovy sandwiches on Scooby Doo somehow becomes right thanks to glorious lyrics like “Ninja Nazi lepers descend on towns like demon shepherds.” I don't even know what the hell that means, but it sounds pretty awesome to me.

Sounding even cooler, but basically wrongest of all, “Cousins” is a not-so-subtle ode to, uh... let's call it “inter-familial relations.” Icky subject matter aside, it's still a solid rocker with dark rolling riffs and gritty electronic rhythms. Nearly as perverse and even rowdier, the thrilling “Touch Screen” compresses guitars and squeaky-high vocal choruses into a mass of seething flesh for a tale of mutual self-pleasure.

The lyrics to “I'm Not Gay” begin as an anthem of hetero self-delusion, belied by the distinctly fetish-club bass line (which sounds reminiscent of Al's early techno outfit PTP) and finally collapse into the shouted declaration “It's hard to be a homo in the Lone Star State!” It's also one of the most bad-ass tracks in the bunch, along with follow-up “Abundant Redundancy,” which seems to be trying to outdo Ministry at the industrial-metal game, and nearly succeeds in its barrage of rusty-machine rhythms and thick slabs of concrete power-chords.

Another fun entry, “Lewd Ferrigno” quickly establishes itself as one the band's most entertaining songs, opening with electronic soundscapes beneath a totally righteous spoken intro “Once a century, a god is sent down to bless this earth with his majesty...” setting off a skewed but loving metal anthem to the man who became TV's Incredible Hulk... well, at least I think that's it. Or else they just thought the words “Lewd Ferrigno” were just really damn funny, and worked them into a hilariously overblown epic that ends up sounding a lot like the ballad of “Trogdor the Burninator” from Homestar Runner.

“Wizard of Sextown” is darker and more menacing – equal parts Jane's Addiction and Skinny Puppy – a combination that shouldn't really work, but does. The “Disco-A-Go-Go” remix of “Hookerbot” closes the album, and like the Wicked Lake mix, it's not as strong as the original, but it does serve as a suitably sleazy bookend to the proceedings.

As you can probably tell by now, this CD is just a damn good time. No more, no less. It may not in fact be Jourgensen’s finest achievement, but he’s right to be proud, because it’s pure naughty fun from start to finish – which I’m sure is exactly the intention. In its current incarnation, this band has raw energy on tap, and they capture the project’s original raunchy spirit... frankly when faced with all this potential I’d be a little sad to see them disband at this point, so I hope Sex-O does well enough to make Uncle Al reconsider. If I may be so bold… the world needs Cocks like these.

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