Plague of the Firstborn

Fine China Superbone are a noise-rock band from Holland. Normally I welcome such records defined under this genre, but I’m finding their Plaguey (GEERTRUIDA TRUI059) album to be an exhausting spin. Me, I like noise-rock when it’s all loose and messy (I like a nice open pigpen I can wallow in), but Fine China Superbone are of the school of thought that it must be energetic and punchy at all times, sewn up as tight as a mare’s corset, plus they have the chops and skills to apply crazy rhythms and time signatures as they deliver their speedy angrified beats and punky barbs. So far I’ve endured 15 mins of fist-fighting and baseball bats to the head. Only after four tracks of breathless excess, riffing, and thumping, do the band see fit to settle into a slightly more digestible form, slowing the tempo to under 100mph and lowering their voices to a shout.

As they do this, it becomes evident their grasp of inner dynamics is pretty remarkable, and you get the impression that every one of these nine songs must have been rehearsed to the point where they can do it backwards. This might not actually be the case though, and if you’re inclined to attribute their “tight” playing style to their longevity (they’ve been doing it since 1997), bear in mind that there have been at least two different versions of the band in all that time. A guy could get used to this remorseless, stop-start discordant thrash approach – it’s not a million miles away from the “math-rock” school of the US, which I purported to enjoy at one stage (e.g. Dillinger Escape Plan, Keelhaul, Pelican) – but there’s something about the vocalist which remains a stumbling block. He sounds urgent and demanding, without actually having anything to be genuinely angry about. Liked the colourful cover painting, but it doesn’t really prepare you for what’s inside. From 18th March 2019.

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