Wolf Eyes, Burned Mind
A version of punk that's blackened, incoherent, uneasy and disgusting beyond recognition
Of all the bands to benefit from the brief-and-unlikely buzz around "noise-punk" circa 2003-04, Detroit's gurgling, festering Wolf Eyes made the least concessions to actual music. But although Burned Mind isn't Lightning Bolt's blown-out classic rawk or Black Dice's beat-centric Tangerine Dreaming, it's still punk rock through and through, albeit a version that's bubbling, blackened, incoherent, uneasy, disgusting and distended beyond recognition.
Wolf Eyes came to Sub Pop the old-fashioned way — they worked the hardest. This, their highest-profile release, barely differs from the dozens upon dozens of tar puddles they had already released via CD-R, cassette and hand-lathed vinyl since 1997 — though maybe it's a hair more focused. Here, Wolf Eyes' cannon-like assault of malfunctioning electronics, screaming oscillators, retarded drum machines and humanimal screeching has all the drama of rock with none of the traditional sounds. When Wolf Eyes attack ("Stabbed in the Face," "Village Oblivia," "Black Vomit"), it's a glorious transmutation of the rock-band ideal — Swans-slow drumbeats hit the moshpit with a palsied zombie leg-drag, horrific noises sloppily repeat as if they were the catchiest riffs, Nate Young's distorted barking creates madness better than they express it. But the skuzzy drones and clanks on their shorter tracks are worthy too, creating Hostel levels of tension, blood-caked scenes that capture the feel of blinking neon and sweaty paranoia.