A Seminal Work of Electro-Thrash
Let’s face it, you’re bound to have a reaction to an album with the title, Ruthless Sperm. And much like the name, upon hearing this debut full length album by Italian Sub-Pop backed three piece His Electro Blue Voice, you might make a similar knee-jerk reaction.
There seem to be too many moments that sound like Big Black or other industrial tinted leanings of underground independent music in the mid-1980s. And then, in some moments, you might even feel like the music of every band profiled in Michael Azerrad’s legendary book Our Band Could Be Your Life was pushed into a blender and exploded. This is a good thing on paper, and to a degree, in execution. Though nothing here is as revelatory as the canon from which it undoubtedly took influence from, this album has plenty of decent tunes to offer.
Primary amongst the seven tracks is the enthralling “The Path,” which is lead by an opening rush that sounds straight out of early 1980s British punk rock. It dips and slips around into post-punk and synth-pop modes before running off the rails for a supremely satisfying ending. Though the Big Black comment might come off as half a compliment and half a rip, tracks like “Death Climb” and “Tumor” are not bad tracks so much as they seemed bathed in the murk that is all things Albini-esque. “Sea Bug” has a nice mix of propulsive guitar and drum patterns, while also integrating some nice minor key melodies into the fray that give it a very distinctive Dinosaur Jr. feel.
It’s likely a taxing album for someone who is uninitiated with this kind of oeuvre, as something like the album closer “Red Earth” takes forever to get going, and moves little once it does. However, even in these lesser moments, there is a concerted energy abound in the performances that gets a little more infectious with each listen. The distorted haze that surrounds many of the tracks serves to increase the intensity instead of fudging it into oblivion, and though the tone through out tough, aggressive, and confrontational overall, the songwriting doesn’t shy away from a pleasant hook when it gets a hold of one.
Even though Ruthless Sperm might sound like an album by a band that’s merely out to make noise, shock and appall at first listen, there is more to this record than can be revealed in just one listen. And even though the “more” that is there is sometimes hidden in cubbyhole-like niches in the sound barrage, His Electro Blue Voice inevitably rewards those who give them an honest chance with some decent thrashy tunes.