Agony Shorthand

Thursday, September 11, 2003
LIGHTINING BOLT : “WONDERFUL RAINBOW” CD….Easily one of the most exciting bands of our young century thus far, LIGHTNING BOLT got a lot of head-nodding & hosannas with their second all-destroying CD “Ride The Skies” in 2001. The chattering cognoscenti of ardent noise hounds, late-night scene mavens and straight-up rock and rollers pegged the Providence duo for immediate elevation to the critical canon, a designation which I’m happy to say they continue to earn on the recent “Wonderful Rainbow”. Lightning Bolt, as it has been said, do more with a bass and a set of drums than seems humanly possible. As their best, they sound like they’re channeling MOTORHEAD, BLACK FLAG, experimental noise freakout bands, 60s biker rock and ORNETTE COLEMAN all in the same track. No guitar! Unreal – I had to check the website to make sure I wasn’t wrong on this, because it sounds like brother Wayne Kramer, Greg Ginn and Lemmy all plugged in and feeding back at ear-shredding volume. On a bass! What do they feed these kids today?

This 8-song set contains two absolutely ballistic, sound-modulated overloads called “Assassins” and “Dracula Mountain” respectively – both had me grinning from ear to ear & shuffling the band into various mental top 10 lists. I noted and filed that the record was mixed with Mike McHugh, who’s known more for working with In The Red-style garage punk bands than avant-noise kingpins, and the sheen of traditional straight-up 4/4 rock actually shines through the chaos in a lot of places. The drumming is terrific, too – Brian Chippendale attacks his kit from all angles, it seems, and the result is a militaristic assault that reminds me of 1980-90s antipodean heroes VENOM P. STINGER. My only beef with the Bolt is a sometimes annoying tendency to run a riff so far into the ground via repetition that a 4-minute killer turns into a 6-minute riffarama in need of some serious lopping. There’s also a bit of wank for people who enjoy rock musicians gettin’ all experimental and shit (the title track, for instance). But the beefs are few, the sounds are raw, heavy and alive, and I can’t wait to see these guys do some damage live next month on their in-progress US tour.