Pitchshifter's previous album, www.pitchshifter.com, hit me like a Lincoln Navigator driven off the roof of a Starbucks: their insidious mix of heavy electronics, raw rock power, social commentary and pop culture pessimism was pure genius. It was easily one the 10 most satisfying albums of the 1990's. That said, Deviant has a lot to live up to, and for the most part it does.
Each Pitchshifter album finds them experimenting with a different sound. Submit, released on the Earache label, was pure metallic sludge and grindcore. Infotainment? brought them into the age of electronics and sampling, with vocalist J.S.Clayden screaming every word and each guitar chord a brutal attack. On www.pitchshifter.com Clayden favored singing rather than screaming, but the most remarkable change was their use of sped-up techno and breakbeats and copious amounts of harsh electronics in place of much of the guitar. Deviant brings the band to yet another new era. It is obvious that the band is still using electronic means to sequence and arrange their songs, but their music is much more organic, as they now sound like a post-metal rock band: heavy rock guitars, Sabbath-like bass, over-the-top drumming, melodic vocals, but not much in the way of keyboards. The vocals are sung throughout the album - plenty of anger but none of the screams. At first listen, I found myself longing for the heavy electronics of www.pitchshifter.com, but after a few more spins I was totally sold on their updated balls-to-the-wall heavy rock sound. Despite their new, more commercial sound Deviant is Pitchshifter's most subversive album yet!
Deviant is a solid album from start to finish. It starts rocking from the first few notes and doesn't surrender until you eject the disk from the CD-ROM drive. A perfect mix of savage rock, technology, infectious vocal hooks and intelligent lyrics. And it's their lyrics and message that separates Pitchshifter from the rest of the pack. Every song on Deviant is a full frontal attack on the soulless consumer society we live in. Their goal is to enlighten you, maybe frighten you, and above all help you to question the society we're expected to accept. Deviant: a bitter pill coated in sweet rock candy*.
Keep It Clean is a tribute to those of us (and you know who you are) that play by the rules and expect to succeed and find happiness. Yeah right! Put on your kakis and blue shirt and go fuck yourself. Hidden Agenda explores just that: the hidden agendas of corporations and politicians - collecting wealth while trashing the planet and destroying the quality of our lives in the process. The message of Dead Battery is clear: don't let your masters drain you of your spirit and use you up, like a dead battery.
Forget the Facts rages against people who deny the brutality of reality, like the fact that "Our happy meals taste the same," and the fact that Jerry Springer's guests aren't just funny, they're also sad and pathetic too. As Seen On TV - Do you believe everything you see on TV? Pitchshifter doesn't and neither does guest ranter Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys, Lard), who manages to cover Columbine, SUVs, generational identity and racism in a few short minutes. Everything's Fucked - The Crow: Salvation soundtrack (Crow 3) features a toned down version of this song titled Everything Sucks (Again). This song has grown on me since I last reviewed if for the Crow 3 Soundtrack in Legends #98. Fucked is just that much better than Sucked!
Pitchshifter wants you to sample them, in fact the disk comes with 30 pre-moistened samples in ready-to-loop WAV format. If you actually do something cool with the samples, upload it to their web site. If they deem it worthy, they'll host your song on their web site (and if you can't figure out their URL, you don't deserve to listen to them)!
Deviant also includes a mini Rat Bastard comic. I haven't seen a comic book included in with an album since the Parliament albums in the 1970's! Rat Bastard**, for those that don't know, is a subversive, futuristic comic about a half rat/half human private eye. I'm biased because I know the artists that draw the comic, but I think it's the best comic available.
If you like your music heavy - anywhere from Prong to Ministry to Korn to Monster Magnet to Rage heavy - and you like your lyrics rich with social commentary and bile, Pitchshifter is for you. Now get off your ass and fuck shit up, you culture jammer, you!
* I should loose my writer's license for that nugget of vomit.
** Earl: http://www.crucialcomics.com.