Like a Jello Biafra-sanctioned rush of insolence comes the apocalyptic nightmare of rioting in the streets, zombies, and utter chaos among humanity – all of that tucked ever so slovenly into 1 minute and 20 seconds of “Unanswered Questions,” the lead track on The Obscuse’s debut CD, “Different Devils for Different Levels.” The Wilkes-Barre trio, consisting of bassist/vocalist Dave Hardy, guitarist/vocalist Emily Bly, and drummer Sean Schatzel, pack a crassly lo-fi punk punch with their fully realized vision of nose-thumbing musical abuse – coming off like spoken-word on a bad amphetamine trip.
With a cave-rumbling production not far from The Misfits’ album “Walk Among Us” and playfully hardcore sensibility à la Agnostic Front, The Obscuse succeed in taking their music to an unflinching D.I.Y. extreme, all with a unique personality quirk. The vocal impressions given by Emily Bly are of a young Patti Smith as she chastises a soulless society for its focus on the skin-deep in “Plastic Dreams,” her approach the perfect contrast to the Richard Hell-meets-Paul Baloff razor-phlegm of Hardy’s run ‘n’ gun in “Hard Sell.”
This band sounds best cranked to 10, with the hammer down and any semblance of convention thrown out the window. “Evil Ed” works itself into a psychotic frenzy, pummeling through several different tempos, the seemingly live, blood-raw take adding to the decidedly 1950s B-movie horror-scape of shadows and all things not among the living. Similarly, “Total NoRecall” is a page straight from Iggy and The Stooges’ “Raw Power” album, with a filthier-than-dirt guitar snarl and attitude that sounds at several points like it’ll unhinge the song itself into an absolute train wreck – that element of erratic danger is intoxicating.
For perhaps the most extreme volatility on the album, “Release the Hounds” does not disappoint. From the fuzzed-out bassline that opens the track to the dual lead vocals of Bly and Hardy, it tells the tall tale of a monster hell-bent on destruction, the mid-song breakdown into the stomp-a-long chorus of, “Crazy crimson eyes / Let the dogs be your demise,” signaling the track’s readiness for beer-vocal participation at your favorite live venue. Call it punk, call it rock ‘n’ roll, just don’t call it for the faint of heart – this stuff will forever strip you of your coherence.
Blinding aural animosity with an immeasurable fun factor, The Obscuse doesn’t invite you to the party – they snatch you at gunpoint.
The Obscuse ‘Different Devils for Different Levels’ Rating: W W W W W