THE WILDHEARTS: Endless, Nameless

NOISY ANOMALY FROM CLASS OF ’97

Tin-can drums, way high in the mix. Dry-bone guitars trebled to the max. Mega bass shocks and overamped noise. This is Anthem, the first single from Endless, Nameless.

Fuck me. What happened to the Wildhearts?

Where are the sticky sweet melodies and riff ‘n’ roll majesty of Earth vs… and P.H.U.Q.? The multi-part stretch-out of Fishing for Luckies, or the Motorhead speed scuzz of Caffeine Bomb? The TUNES, where are the tunes?

Gone. Bombed out.

Sort of.

Wildhearts: Endless, Nameless

Endless, Nameless: tuneless? No

This was a New Era for the Wildhearts, an era that sounded like the end. Before then, Ginger’s gang were a volatile technicolour splatter on a po-grunge backdrop, a gang who gave good chaos both on and off record – vids like this (nice vom) and stunts like this (nice Kerrang! visit) made sure of that, which would all count for knack-all if the music blew, but … it very definitely didn’t, as the albums and A-grade B-sides show. But if drugs, bust ups and breakdowns were standard operating procedure for this lot, by ’97 it had got a whole lot darker: band members fired (CJ), sort-of band members AWOL (Mark Keds), rehab yo-yo (Danny McCormack), attempted suicide (Ginger) – and Endless, Nameless masks none of it. Do a mood-check on this bunch of cheery-bastard titles: Junkenstein, Pissjoy, Heroin, Thunderfuck, Why You Lie?

What reading do you get?

PHUQ-ed off, probably. Far less fun than TV Tan for sure, but the titles are just the half of it. The real sign that Things Are Bad is the nihilistic production job that quarantines this album from everything else they’ve done. Some reviews give it the white noise tag, but that’s overstating it – it’s not Wolf Eyes, it’s the Wildhearts, and they’re still a of bunch of dirt glam hook-ers loaded with tunes and smash-it-up attitude no matter what state they’re in. There IS noise, though. It’s in the production, a permanent stimulation that kinda tires your head. For a song-based record, a record where you expect and get hooks, verses and choruses, it’s pretty rough on the senses.

Junkenstein fires a savage warning to any fairweather fan. By far the hardest Wildhearts tune released up to that point (outdone by Why You Lie? on side 2), it’s industrialised, thrashy, pissed off and vital – more a two-minute warning than a tune. What’s not to love? NOTHING.

Nurse Maximum pulls the tempo back down to mid, at least for the verse, in a bit of a cool-off after Junkenstein’s jarring abrasions, but when Anthem’s unsubtle clank makes its move, you wonder where the record’s going … Anthem doesn’t feel like killer Wildhearts and we’re already three tracks in. At this point on Earth vs The Wildhearts we’d had Greetings from Shitsville, TV Tan and Everlone. Classics all. PHUQ’s opening 1-2-3 was I Wanna Go Where the People Go, V-Day and Just in Lust. Same deal. EN’s third track is sung by Danny McCormack: ‘I’m in love with the rock and roll world.’

Not exactly Ginger-sharp wordplay, is it?

But although this literal ode to the rock and roll world might not fire rockets on first listen, it’s not quite the braindead slog you first think, either – with Danny on vox, the words have a more autobiographical bent, and when the tune’s rammed with so much anti-pop production that it all but destroys itself, it feels like a metaphor for the band, McCormack especially. A grower of sorts

unlike Urge

Urge is no grower because it’s full-grown massive already, an instant shiner from the new dark Wildhearts. Check that slam-riffed mega shake, the in-and-out-of-sync verse (yet more overstimulation), the post-chorus bass-drum boooooom….yeah, the boom. Not the first appearance of this signature OTT Endless sonic, but it is the best pure earth quaker, an on-the-one detonation. Rumour goes that part-time Wildheart/full-time metal-oid Devin Townsend used it for his own endless ends on Infinity, but whatever the story and however it came about, it ramps up the imbalance and no doubt cracked some roadwork for Ginger’s more out-there adventures, not least the mad-bad Mutation project.

By now, after four tracks, you know that things are not going to clean up. There will be no singalonga Nita Nitro, there will be no normal production. There will be a kids’ chorus, though – Piss, JOY, NAAA NA-NA NA-NA – and a wrecked cover of Dogs D’Amour’s Heroine (here called Heroin) with drums distorted to shit, vocals ditto, volume levels ragged. Wasted and louche. Why You Lie? is so feral that it strangles the air out of you, and by the time it disintegrates, you’re spent. Thunderfuck’s mellow gives some respite at the album’s end, but it’s a wearisome downer. The sound of engines, the smell of burning. Torch it. Torch the lot. Over and out.

Endless, Nameless is a Wildhearts one-off, but it’s as true as any album that copped their classic sound – perhaps even more so. Abrasive industrial rock, hand-made by damaged human flaw-beings, it sits tight with a couple of other 90s records that were destructive reactions to predecessors – Warrior Soul’s Chill Pill and Ministry’s Filth Pig come to mind. The Wildhearts returned to their own vintage when they next got their shit together, but this one’s the unruly brother, the one you can’t ignore. It won’t let you.

Keep it maximum. 



MUTATION: Error 500

EXTREME ATTENTIONDEFICIT METAL

Someone puts a CD on – summat loud, brutish, fast. He or she is trying to find a track which they’ll recognise the second they hear it, but YOU know different because of their chronic SMS (shit memory syndrome). Play is pressed and you get a few seconds of metallic battery. Not it. FF flick to the next track. Another blast. Not it. Skip again. More noise. Nope, skip. Half a riff, NO. Skip. Maybe it was the first one after all? Skip back. No. ffs. FF again.

Jarred by this rapido assault of unconnected riffs, your senses are mashed. You don’t know what’s next or what went before coz you’ve been denied the time to process any of it. There’s no pattern to snag, not even a rhythm to follow, and your brain can’t keep up.

This is what Error 500 feels like – 9 tracks of mutant-bastard billion-guitar chaos, pinballing not so much between styles but between riffs, tempos and strobe-light madness to create a monstrous pile-up WITHIN every track. Disorienting stuff for sure, but who’s responsible for this barrage of ADD metal? What is MUTation?

MUTation is a Ginger (Wildhearts)-led project and this record is part two of a rumoured three-album lifespan. Napalm Death’s Shane Embury is in it, Cardiacs’ Jon Poole is in it, as are many others. Merzbow pops up. More bizarrely, Mark E Smith – yes, that one (is there any other?) – shambles in for two stagger-on cameos, shouting about shoelaces like a daylight drunk.

Does any of this give a sense of where Error 500 is going?

If not, the disjointed assembly of opening track Bracken surely does, a well-heavy/insane mash of what sounds like 5 different tracks in the first minute. Utopia Syndrome carries on the cut-and-paste attack. By the time White Leg flings a carousel spin in there, your ears begin to whisper for a lie down … not because of volume or extremity in itself, we love all that, but because of over-stimulus and the pace of change. Error 500 is a twisted hybrid of Napalm Death, Devin Townsend and Battles body parts, stitched together with Zappa thread and sparked to life by a Meshuggah defibrillator.

Little wonder, then, that it finds a home on Ipecac.

Unlike collaborations such as Shrinebuilder, where the very-brilliant sum is clearly derived from its Om/Neurosis/St Vitus component parts, or even labelmates Palms who evolve the Isis blueprint into celestial realms, MUTation is more in the Patton/Fantomas/Bungle mould – a total annihilation of the familiar and the expected. It’s a combustion. Highlights are impossible to list because the whole thing – as a statement – is a deranged highlight, though the Napalm-heavy channel-flicking Protein is a fave of mine. Over to you to pick your own bits.

Anything goes in MUTation world, and though it’s nothing like the Wildhearts, it’s everything like their spirit: technicolour, exuberant, volatile, smiling and rammed with fuck-it attitude … a gloriously demented racket. BRING THE NOISE.

Mutation: Error 500 (Ipecac, 2013)