By Bill Adams
Iggy Pop was once quoted as saying that the sound The Stooges were aiming for in their early days was “something monolithic – something loud and annoying.” It worked of course; The Stooges made sounds which were loud and annoying and ended up laying the groundwork for an entire sub-genre of rock (punk) as well as a lifestyle. Now, forty-four years after The Stooges changed the world, MUTation has arrived with their album, Error 500 – but while there’s no question that the band is ambitious, the album is just loud and annoying.
Featuring more talent than anyone might expect would ultimately create such an ungodly mess, Error 500 crosswires every musical genre it can lay its sticky little fingers on and sees MUTation begin testing the boundaries of songwriting convention as well as just how much listeners will be able to take with “Bracken.” Listeners will be thrown off balance right away as “Bracken” throws broken pieces of metal, hardcore, pop, showtunes and the Mini Pops into a blender and mixes them all together, but doesn’t break the pieces down so much that the song actually flows or runs out in a consistent mix. Throughout the track, MUTation hits a multitude of stops and starts with pretty atonal, art-damaged, metallic sludge and static texture which doesn’t exactly fall into a discernable pattern, certainly not one which could be mistaken for a coherent song. It is unrelenting though and, after the three minutes it takes for the track to play through, listeners will be left with their heads spinning; on first spin “Bracken” feels like a violent assault.
It might seem unlikely, but the caustic cacophony that “Bracken” hits listeners with is only an average one for MUTation. The rest of Error 500 features only minor variations in form, style and structure – if any of those terms even applies for a band who regularly scrambles its own proverbial code – but the results never get boring and never get easier to listen to. On songs like “Utopia Syndrome,” “Computer, This Is Not What I…” and (the most appropriately entitled) “Relentless Confliction,” lead vocalist David “Ginger Wildheart” Walls hisses and spits out plainly unmediated and unintelligible grunts and squeaks while an all-star cast of contributors including Shane Embury (normally found with Napalm Death), Jon Poole (usually of Cardiacs), The Fall’s Mark Smith, Denzel of Young Legionnaire, Rich Jones of Black Halos and Sisters Of Mercy’s own Chris Catalyst races to cobble together supporting music. It never really gets easy to listen to and, from a hard rock and metal standpoint, it flagrantly disregards most of the generic cliches that many fans crutch on (read: nowhere on the album is there a place where listeners can throw their fists in the air, horns up – this music moves too fast and is too disjointed for that). For those who really like their metal hard and action-packed with acidic venom but also can’t quite shake a love of cartoon violence, Error 500 may very well be the stuff which soothes some comically twisted souls.
Does that mean it’s a good album? This writer is inclined to say Error 500 falls very short of the ‘good’ mark; it’s loud and annoying and not in a good way. That doesn’t mean a few misguided souls somewhere won’t like it.
Bill Adams is editor-in-chief of groundcontrolmag.com.