Barren Womb, a fearsome sonic duo from Finland and Norway, recently launched their latest onslaught of an album, Lizard Lounge, through Loyal Blood Records. The band might just be the hardest working band in the Norwegian underground, touring relentlessly, and offering a slew of releases since their formation in 2011. It’s perhaps a simpler job to write and produce new material with this lo-fi approach.
The pair are ardent exponents of punk-thrash craft, adept at capturing their raw and unpolished live energy in studio recordings. Lizard Lounge is no exception! It’s like being thrown in the pit, right in front of them, in a crammed room with spit and sweat flying. It’s hardcore. Northern hardcore. So you’ll either love it or loathe it. The in-your-face approach of Lizard Lounge can draw parallels from the MC5 to Clutch, The Adverts to Sparklehorse, Wire to The Damned, John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett!
After nine years following the same uncompromising lo-fi path, Timo and Tony can be melodic, scathing, catchy, intense, punky or heavy as a concrete Chevy. ‘Lizard Lounge’ shifts between punk-thrash, screeching guitars and tortured vocals to sore but slightly more mellow passages, only to leave you floored again with a catchiness unexpected from a band operating in their style. Definitely unusual and quite mind-blowingly weird. When Barren Womb release a new record, expect the unexpected and still be surprised.
Lizard Lounge offers ten little nuggets of thrashy Lo-Fi, starting with the tortured screams of Cemetery Slopestyle, a short, blistering attack on ….something! Very 1977, Easy Listening it aint! Karma As A Tour Manager follows the same vein before Hairy Palms (wonderful title!!) changes a little with a fuller arrangement and vocals that kept reminding me of The MC5 doing Like A Virgin! Crop Circle Jerk is then slower, sparser (if possible) but actually quite tuneful. At 4.02 minutes, it’s the second longest track on the album, which for me strengthens the similarity with Wire – dense, short snippets of dark tale punctuated by distorted chord thrashes.
Later on, Hydroponic Youth introduces some oddly 60’s sounding guitar notes before You Do The Meth (neat title) closes the album pretty much where it started – primitive thrash akin to Sparklehorse. And that’s the main problem for me, a simple lack of variety in the compositions. Back in the day, I was absolutely mesmerised and hooked by Wire, but I would struggle to explain why – other than perhaps you have to be 18 or younger to get it!….Barren Womb fall into that same category, you either get it or it leaves you behind.