During a recent quadrennial record inventory of the house library, I came across a copy of The Great Kat’s Beethoven on Speed from 1990. It sparked memory of when I’d been slugged a copy in hope that some opinion would be concocted addressing one of metal’s more idiosyncratic wackos.
Kat, like Medusa, turned my brain to stone. Nothing came out. But like the face of the Gorgon, the record kept drawing me back every six months or so until the red-faced admission was made that Beethoven was actually a repeat listen for its combination of apoplectic shit hemorrhage, suicide-mission violin études, and 20-second guitar operas interlaced with 30-second electric-washboard moshes. Beethoven on Speed, in contrast to the commoner’s daguerreotype thrash metal of the period—the Anthraxes, Overkills, Testaments—was simply too brief (30 minutes, tops) to annoy through extremity, and, with regard to mental pathology, was inimitable.
Ten years on comes the Rossini’s Rape EP, and still Kat stands alone in the manner of the good soldier Schweik, unquestioning of whatever her busted internal compass directs. The CD image makes her one with the Mentors or Wendy O. The musical noise, however, has little to do with the inexplicable softcore porn photography in the jewel case: technologically intimidating instrumental work comprising implacable sulfate-overdosed classical riffs, Gomez Addams harpsichord, horns, and strings, all over and done with in just under six and a half minuten, which seems arithmetically sound. And The Great Kat, even through the mask of her obdurately screwy alter ego, is not entirely successful at concealing what can only be a blazing smile.