Spanyurd - OOW

I haven't been following heavy music scenes like I did in the oughts, but I still get down with aggro jams when they're done right. And Chicago's Spanyurd has been killing it for the last four years. Their latest EP, "OOW," was released in the spring by the always-surprising Already Dead Tapes & Records, and it's ready to be the soundtrack for 20 of your craziest minutes this year.

There are just five short tunes on "OOW," but this dense, ambitious album evokes more ideas than most full-lengths. If you're into Guerilla Toss, this is squarely up your alley, but there are other potent vibes at play, too: at times I'm reminded of the relentless high-tempo attack of early Dillinger Escape Plan, like the walls of lethal guitar/drum clusters in the intros to MARTINfitzgeraldLAWRENCE or ORENTHALjamesSIMPSON. On the "VOZAR" side of the sound, Plethora "MC Naptime" Haystacks' vocal delivery often reminds me of later Daughters albums or even the Jesus Lizard, rarely resorting to all-out screaming but continually building tension with a menacing kind of delivery that pulls you further into the music. The overall vibe reminds me of a whole slew of bands along the Load Records/Skin Graft continuum without sounding beholden to any. They strike a great balance between casual noiserock and startling precision, and make non-repetitive songforms interesting with thoughtful shifts in tempo, dynamics, and density at every turn.

Like a lot of the Skin Graft/Load scene referenced above, they lean toward irreverence instead of depressed or angry vibes. Song titles reference various celebrities (if you count Fenriz, and I totally do) with their "real" names elided together. The "lyrics" they list for the album on their Bandcamp page are pulled from other sources: Sinatra, 311, Montell Jordan, etc (though they aren't the actual lyrics in the tunes). And the art is just fantastic--this is easily my favorite cassette art of the year among some pretty steep competition. Spanyurd's mascot of sorts is this intense dude in a classic luchador wrestling mask, with a Rey Mysterio-style cross on the forehead, and this image is set on the perfect pastel pink background on the cover. The teeth of this character, cleverly forming the band's name, also appear on the side label, and there's more phenomenal art on the inside of the j-card that I'll leave you to discover for yourself. Absolutely perfect. If you check out Spanyurd's Facebook page, you'll find more wicked Mr. Luchador art that's been used in band flyers over the last few years.

My favorite tunes here are probably the opening track, ORENTHALjamesSIMPSON, full of slippery guitar work over solid drum/bass riffage, great shifts in dynamics, and almost pointillistic layers of bending string atmospheres in the outro, and album closer, GLENallenANZALONE, with the most flashy drum work on the album, and riffs that blend old-school thrash with Providence noise-chaos. But at 20 minutes, every song is great, and I think it works best as a full-album experience. The tape sounds phenomenal, and considering how great thou art for this release is, I would highly recommend picking up the tape from Already Dead while they're still available. But you can totally rock the digital edition at the Spanyurd Bandcamp, too, and be sure to check out their earlier releases while you're there.

Spanyurd is presently looking for a new vocalist, and they're also working on some longer tunes that feature some repetitive sections. Definitely excited to hear what they do next. And if you live in Chicago and you're down for some acrobatic vokills, you should make the magic happen!

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