Fight Songs


“Delta Bravo Foxtrot Charlie Roger, Blackhawk! WWWWAAAAARRR!!” . . . OK, great, but it’s not quite the proper soundtrack for our howling commandos and budding Nick and Nora Furies to get juiced up on, is it? They need something fierce and malevolent. Ya gotta fight evil with even eviler evil. Right? (I dunno. After the world—or my world or your world, anyway—had seemingly ended, I shot a fax to the prez with the idea of sending 100,000 Muslim, Jewish, and Christian clerics to kneel and pray on the streets of Kabul for the soul of every man, woman, and child on earth. Musta got lost in the hubbub.) Anyway, if you’re gonna bomb rocks to make even smaller rocks and send them Talibastards a-runnin’, you better be listening to some sick stuff. I’m thinking hardcore gabber death-techno oughta do the trick.

60 Minutes recently aired a glowing infomercial for the U.S. Army about special-ops soldiers. They interviewed all these old dudes drooling over their great adrenaline-filled days in Vietnam, where they hung from helicopters and got all sneaky and shit. I kept waiting for the disclaimer that would tell the viewer that the Vietnam War lasted like 30 years and that we lost, but it never happened. Then it hit me. Those ancient soldiers were listening to pantywaist stuff like Hendrix and Martha & the freakin’ Vandellas over there. We can’t—nay, we won’t—let that happen again.

So I sent the prez copies of Hardcore for the Headstrong: The New Testament, a mix CD by Omar Santana, and Lenny Dee’s 667 Neighbor of the Beast. Both are comps of 4000 bpm overkill techno that really only has one message: I’M GONNA FUCKIN’ KILL YOU WITH MY JACKHAMMER! The musicians on these mixes are probably only known to a select group of ravers with bloody trainers. Da Predator? Dummy Plug Conspiracy? Siege & Menace? You got me. All I know is that this crunky crud rocks most unhealthily. If you make a habit of going to your step class on ketamine, then this is Walkman action you could groove to. For the rest of the world, it would be an endurance test best used to heighten an already really bad mood or headache.

There are plenty of precedents for the electro-aggro fugliness of hardcore techno. You got your empire that Alec built, your Japanoise, your power-tool pugilists from way back. Any Whitehouse or Brighter Death Now CD could probably clear a room faster. Same for the gore-grind metal cultists that hardcore gabber techno guys resemble, what with their horror movie doom and unceasing threats to life and limb. (Song titles like “Human Blood,” “I Hate You,” “Kill,” and “Total Annihilation” wouldn’t be out of place on a Relapse records sampler.) There’s just something creepy about dance music gone bad.

The psychedelic repetition of disco or old-timey techno is groovy and often transcendent. It’s when you speed that repetition up a million times and add what sounds like wasps trying to burrow their way into your skull and multiply until your eyeballs pop out that you’ve got trouble. If I were to single out one track with all the most salient characteristics of hardcore gabber—say “Robotz” by DJ Cybersnuff—I feel I would be doing a great disservice to everyone involved, seeing how everyone involved does such a good job of sounding like almost everyone else involved. Which is great! They’re all on the same page. The same scary, grimy, violent page. (Actually, “Get the Fu#k Up” by Rob Gee is my fave—speed-metal samples, moldy hip-hop drums, and then, and only then, does the murder begin.)

The second CD of the 667 set is jaw-dropping in ways that jaws can’t even really drop: berserker metal meets freak-show bass meets my bowels. Who are these people, and what have they done to their drum machines? Just in case I’m not making myself clear about what this stuff sounds like, it goes like this: thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump—KILL! KILL! KILL! EVERYTHING YOU SEE!—thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump. Etc.

At its best, this music reminds me why I loved Slayer and the Young Gods. At its worst, it reminds me why my Atari Teenage Riot albums gather dust in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies. That initial burst of aggression that makes me vacuum the rug really really fast grows tiresome in the long run. Everyone’s inner ear is different, though. My capacity for hours of Baltimore house music, Bananarama mega-mixes, and the Viking war metal of Amon Amarth is limitless. One woman’s extreme noise terror is another man’s extremely terrible noise.

In the apartment directly below me is a neighbor who’s a lawyer, but I’m guessing he’s not a very good one, cuz I’ve played this crap at top volume a couple of times and it made ME want to call the cops. Just to have someone to talk to. To tell me everything was gonna be all right. Is there a type of human out there for whom tension itself is a form of release? Must be. Lenny Dee and Omar Santana (and the members of Goreguts and Cannibal Corpse for that matter) are feeding an unrelenting appetite for unrelentingness.

Which is why this stuff would be natch for army bases and boot camp (most of the vocal samples are gory battle-related glory). The techno deathheadz who are grossing each other out with schoolboy glee have designed an insidious bayonet rock for a new world order. Although, of course, it goes without saying that it was nicer when the killers inside them could be played strictly for laughs.