From the nasty rattle of the opening bass riff to the tortured, lethargic keyboards that close "Birthday Deer," Nine Fingered Thug's debut cassette is a purposefully abrasive outing. About as far removed from modern, joy-buzzing noise pop as possible, these songs quake with the low-end dumpster rock of the keys, drums and bass instrumentation and snarl with Samuel Mintu's demented, rabid yap. In particular, keyboardist Irene Moon adds rusty industrial contributions, which will be missed when she moves to New York at the end of the year.
The music erupts in bursts, with hard-nosed themes jerking from beat to beat, like Frankenstein's creature built from trash. Nine Fingered Thug isn't just rough around the edges; it's rough to the core. When this aesthetic emerged in the '80s, critic Robert Christgau called it "pigfuck." That's appropriate here.
Mintu spits out gruesome lyrics—"Her skin bleeds maggots/ her eyes bled pus." You might hope to offer him a cough drop, but his ravaged throat is essential. Twisted folktale "Ballad of a Deep Black Hole" plays like a darkened, sludge-waltz take on Tom Waits' apocalyptic Bone Machine. "Daydreams" dements the schoolyard refrain of "worms go in and worms go out," while the choral chant of "Grinding Against Bone" echoes the "heave-ho" from some damned Viking galley.
The choice to release this on cassette is perfect: These tracks will pop with extra mutilation once the tape twists with heat and time.