Brian Chippendale, the drummer for the second-best two-person rock band in the world, dresses like a mutant sock puppet live, whacking his kit while he howls into a microphone strapped into his mouth with colorful rags. It’s a mixture of muppetry and bondage that’s half Sesame Street, half s/m, and that’s a pretty good way to describe Providence noise duo Lightning Bolt on record, too: Their music is violent, sexy, heavy as hell—so far, so metal—but leavened by unexpectedly singsong riffs, childlike vocal chirps, and copious Lord of the Rings references. Without ever being cute, their minimalist bass-and-drums grind is as much a monument to innocence and play as it is to sheer brutality. Imagine a 3,000-pound baby with shovels in its hands and the “Black Dog” riff racing through its brain.
On Hypermagic Mountain, L-Bo prove they’re so heavy they’re unmovable—for three albums now, they’ve kept their attack and its materials gloriously, unbudgingly the same. As the band’s rule of performing only on floors, never stages, illustrates, Lightning Bolt come to you, aiming their churning melodies gut-level and never forgetting the importance of the beat. Chippendale is a showboat, pounding out frantic syncopations in 4/4 one moment, then something like 53/16 or 197/32— a signature perhaps best described as clobberin’ time. On “2 Morro Morro Land” and the epic “Dead Cowboy,” Brian Gibson’s bass guitar commands roughly the same timbre and range as a chain saw, burrowing down super-low, then revving up into a prismatic, chop-shop squeal. Underneath all the scuzz and spasm, though, they’re a groove band, hustling a hard-edged experimentalism you don’t have to work hard to enjoy.