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Review: Ramallah, Kill a Celebrity (Thorp, 2005)

I'm no ass-kisser, but Rob Lind is a fucking genius, and if you disagree, fuck you. I should end this review right there, but we all know that wouldn't be right, so I'll go ahead and tell you why you're an idiot if you don't like this shit. Seriously, everything this guy puts his fucking name on kicks ass, but in recent years he's really hit his stride both in terms of memorable songwriting and in terms of nailing down some of the crispest and most powerful recordings I've ever heard - especially considering the fact that you know there wasn't but so much money available to put into this record. But the fucking thing sounds like a million bucks! Oh, and despite working with a full lineup elsewhere, Lind himself performed every god damn note on the CD except for the drums and a couple of tracks' worth of piano! The guitar tone is crushingly massive and perfectly walks the line of intense heaviness without hitting too much of that overproduced churn, so it accents the groove factor just enough to add some punch but doesn't take things too far. The drums are aptly crisp and have enough of the natural warmth and resonance necessary to hold things down, while the thick basslines tend to add density while remaining subdued beneath loads of guitars and vocals - and the vocals sound pretty much dead on all around, be it shouting/yelling, singing, "whoa oh" backup harmonies, or a mixture of all of the above. Bottomline: Great production. Great fucking production. From a songwriting standpoint Lind is building off of the intensity and unexpected diversity displayed on the "But a Whimper" EP a couple of years ago (and in fact several snippets from that EP have been recycled within these songs, for example "Al-Shifa" is revisited here in altered form as "Shock and Awe"). Only three songs top three minutes, so despite boasting 16 tracks, it's a very tactful 38-minute listen that blows through a slew of influences without lacking cohesive focus at all. After a quick little intro the title track kicks things off with a direction indicative of the general approach here in its use of chunky power chords and subtle melodic accents with plenty of vocal/lyrical spite, before the keyboards that contrast the chugga styled riffs that drive "Days of Revenge" (which I believe also contains one break lifted from the EP) kick in. "Oscar Cotton" is the first of the tracks that lets melody do a little more of the legwork in terms of utilizing more singing vocals and also easing up on the overall density to let the singing carry the track; while "The Horror and the Gag" initially comes across as an odd blend of straight up power chord grooves with hints of dissonance during the verses and "poppy" sounding "na na na" vocals over an eerie piano backdrop during the chorus, but the end result is both dark and oppressive, making for undoubtedly one of the finest cuts herein. "Act of Faith" also highlights some of the darkest undertones via some of the keyboard accents, not to mention what are among the bluntest lyrics of the disc ("Reach up with all of your faith take your mouth off my dick and tear out my eyes…") There's also a damn solid cover of the The Beatles' "A Day in the Life" (with a few lyrical revisions), which is among the catchier tracks alongside closer "Bye-Bye", which also builds around a more melodic core with some simplistic chord progressions and a more "pop-based" song structure. The layout is built entirely around collaged images of celebrities torn out of magazines spattered with blood and with their eyes/mouths crossed/gouged out while brandishing words/phrases like "fake", "vanity", "holier than thou", etc. And the lyrics? As over the top as expected from Ramallah, though it's worth pointing out that none of the excess is without a purpose, nor does it lack the sheer desperation of purely honest expression that much of the content is going for, and that aspect of the content weighs in far more heavily than the extremity of a few select lines. For example, passages such as, "Time is the fire in which we burn. The bitter ash and dust of hate choke what remains. So don't breathe a mote about fate or faith, 'cause those words and their toll leave so many so cold. And the story's so old yet it never gets told but it's written in the scars on the wrists of the lost in the cold of life…" or "If I could painlessly murder us all then there would be no more children crying to our deaf god up above. If I could painlessly murder the world then there would be no more children crying: Then there would be no more children crying at all…" Amazing. I fuckin' love this guy. I'm sure there are some simpleminded Blood for Blood fans out there who can't really hang with anything but, right? Well I say fuck that, and if you liked the first Ramallah EP, you should damn sure dig this. Rob Lind should never have to work a shitty day job again. He's got too much talent flowing through his veins to waste that kind of time. I wholly respect and admire this motherfucker, so pick this shit up. And Rob, if you happen to see this review: Please do another Sinners and Saints record sometime! Thanks. The end.

[Thorp]
Running time - 37:45, Tracks: 16
[Notable tracks: Days of Revenge, Oscar Cotton, The Horror and the Gag, Act of Faith, A Day in the Life]
Thorp Records - http://www.thorprecords.com