Cardiff trio Exit_International don’t do anything by halves – as anyone who’s experienced one of their shows will tell you, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Toting two bassists (that’s right, two) in the form of Scott Lee Andrews and Fudge Wilson and one drummer, Adam Thomas, E_I have done away with the industry-standard guitarist, and when the results are this good, you wonder if all bands should ditch their six-stringers. Cease that wonderment, released off the back of their critically-acclaimed ‘Sex W/ Strangers’ EP, ‘Black Junk’ is a dark, sexy, groove-tastic monster that only E_I themselves could’ve created. Nothing comes close to their level of intensity or insanity.
The album stutters to life with ‘Glory Horn’, that swaggers around for about 2 and a half minutes in all its… well, glory. It’s that unapologetic swagger that makes this album such a breath of fresh air, with its “rabid disco punk” as they describe it, coupled with lyrics that would make purveyors of black comedy blush. “I’ve got your DNA trapped under my fingers / You’ve got my DNA all over your face” is one such gem, courtesy of the darkly-sexy ‘My Mouth Is Your Mouth’. But it’s not just lines that try and out-gross each other, beneath its none-too-pretty exterior is a sensibility in its song-writing that makes for brilliantly-crafted – if a little frightening – hooks. Lead single ‘Bowie’s Ghost’ is a fine example; a brutal number that sees vocalist Scott Lee Andrews deliver the once-friendly “La-la-la-la-la” with a demonic snarl while his and Wilson‘s duelling-basses lay waste to everything in their path while retaining a strong sense of melody.
There’s a sure-fire sing-along to be found in ‘Chainsaw Song’, where the band unveil an unashamedly poppy number that shows just why they’re receiving well-deserved praise from the likes of Kerrang! and Ginger Wildheart. It’s also one of three tracks from their previous release that have been re-recorded for the album – the frantic ‘Sex W/ Strangers’ and ‘Lights Out’ being the others; the latter of which stabs its way to its chaotic conclusion with stop-start rhythms and heart-stopping screeches. It’s followed by the superbly-surreal ‘King Of The Junkies’, where calm is restored, albeit briefly. The let up in pounding drums and bass actually makes for a more sinister sound, especially when Andrews turns circus-master at the 3:45 mark, bringing back memories of that trio of haunting clowns from the sleeve. ‘Blindfolds’ pushes the comfort zone even further out of reach; it’s a short blast of fury that takes us to the closer, ‘Hey, Disciple’; equally as cacophonic and a fitting end to a truly awesome album.
‘Black Junk’ is an explosive début that is as innovative as it is impressive. It’s madcap, mental and magnificent – a 13-track spectacle which you’d do yourself a favour by buying. If the progression from the ‘Sex W/ Strangers’ EP to this release is anything to go by, Exit_International are only going to go from strength to strength in the future. It’s a terrifically terrifying prospect that I’m more than looking forward to.
Written by Ryan Williams