I wonder if they ever were in an actual cult? Ex-Cult is what this group of hard, moshing rockers call themselves and Cigarette Machine is the LP. It’s rough, it’s Doc Martens wearing, it’s leather jacket clad bikers blowing bulbous balloons of pink gum, it’s head banging to the heavy drums, eye rolling to the woozing, scratching guitar and phlegm spitting to the drunken vocals. It’s here to stay.
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It’s no-frills Friday here at Norman, and if you can find a gruff punk groaning into their microphone, a few cigs burnt to a crisp underfoot, you can try it at home! Just make sure you’re supervised by an adult, because this shit’s grim: Ex-Cult are the offenders, offering a smattering of early-era hardcore tinged with the more traditional stuff. Dream a little dream of Reagan Youth, Husker Du and Fugazi and you’re in the right area -- because it’s a cop-free zone, amirite? -- but there are also some infallible grooves to reckon with here, which take a leaf out of the Men’s early work while also touting a bit of psych rock effect-pedal nonsense. It’s eclectic and it sidesteps the standard punk rock metric a little bit, but that’s an accident. Rip it up.
‘Cigarette Machine’ spits on you, but it has to build up a stock take of saliva first. While it moves at a fast, obliterating pace at times, it also goes hard on the idea of build and release; the title track (sandwiched between two superfast charges of lightning) breaks and bends and rewinds its rhythms, letting the band stretch out their fury and maintain it ‘til it hits breaking point. It’s punk rock that says “you just don’t get it, do you?” and sits with you for a good few minutes, echoing Total Control’s “Black Spring” but with none of the No Wave twinkle.
Things get incrementally more psych on the flip, but the genre is always sidelined for grizzly bass and little punk treatises: on “Media House Company”, they begin with some obscured, wobbling tones before opting for a distorted riff and a quick two-minute chugfest. The energy is too much and spills into “Dripping Mouth”, a slightly more dynamic work that feels like the direct result of the song before it. Because they can't stop: Ex-Cult get caught up in themselves on ‘Cigarette Machine’, dizzied by a punk trance that guides their hands up and down guitars and across drumkits. It's the sound of a hypnotist falling over on the pavement.
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- Cigarette Machine by Ex-Cult
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