If you know the name, Tojo Yamamoto, you may think we are about to talk about wrestling. We are not. In a musical context, you might need to learn the band I’m talking about here. Still, you will recognize some of the player’s previous sonic endeavors – The Mighty Skullhead, Nine Pound Hammer, Supafuzz, Ted Bundy’s Volkswagon, Abusement Park – No. Oh well, the past is the past, and more pertinent is what these veterans of the 90s hardcore noise wars are doing today. And what they are doing today is releasing albums that bring together disparate and eclectic music threads into a singular sound.
It’s more than just hardcore; it’s more interesting than punk, and it’s more fun to be around than your average metal band. Tojo Yamamoto’s eponymous album is a crucible of creativity that is both hard-edged yet surprisingly groove, a fantastic blend of muscle and melody.
Perhaps defined more than anything by their gloriously overdriven, fuzz bass, they come on like The Birthday Party reinvented like a classic era, DC mutant hardcore band, which is probably a reference that these proud Southerners aren’t going to thank me for. Tracks like “The Mongolian Stomper” pretty much sum the band vibe up, a blend of stomping (natch) grooves, tsunami beats, bass lines that sound like someone laying the foundations to rebuild the Lexington skyline, slashes of alien guitars, the vocal stylings of a manic preacher, and lyrics that take in old wrestling references, among other things.
There is room for something more considered in the form of “Ben There”. Still, even that can’t contain the band’s natural urges, and before long, the sonic shrapnel is flying, and anyone within a fifty-foot blast radius is running for cover. Ballads are not their thing, it would seem. “The Sugar Hold” is a mad howl at the Kentucky moon; “Killer/Victim” is Alice Cooper possessed by Slipknot, in turn, haunted by The Stooges, and so on, an ever-evolving Russian Doll of extreme sonics, and “Scrambler”, the track which opens the door into their strange world, is seemingly made as much out of glass and razor wire, carving knives and welding equipment as much as it is out of music. In a good way. Actually, in a grate way. (Geddit?)
Some music is for chilling out, relaxing vibes to escape into, and music to soothe and seduce. This is different from that sort of music. Tojo Yamamoto makes the sort of music that you put on at the end of the working week when it is a toss-up between putting a record on and burning down the place that you work in. Sonic exorcism. They offer up acts of sonic aggression, so you don’t have to perpetrate actual ones. It’s a public service.