Foetus doesn't get enough love.
Too punk for the art crowd. Too arty for the punk crowd. The metal guys don't know what to do with his haircut and the indie kids go running away screaming. And all the industrial kids are long dead or have gone Christian. What to do... what to do...???????
First, go thee to his Myspace page and listen to the four streaming cuts and then please, please come back here and deny the true ascendancy of Foetus to Godhood. I fucking dare ya. No one hard-mashes up genres like this guy and his sonicscapes are drool-worthy for those home studio types who could only dream to match his skillz.
A guy who refuses to pissdrink from the pools of sell-out single genre, rejects any frame or context you might put him in and still remains hard as, well, nails. And with something like four dozen records under his belt, he's no flash in the pan, limpdick, drug burnout. I'm kinda glad his singing chops have improved and he's hiding the "wallowing-in-despair-and-degradation" that his earlier (pre-girlfriend?) stuff seems most suited for.
And Foetus - what a great band name -- n contrast to his other, um, poor name choices like Manorexia or Steroid Maximus - although Wiseblood, kinda cool. Offensive and interpretive from so many levels - "Foe to us" - Foetus as the Id incaranate - Foetus as the ugly little wombmonster and of course the evident connection to the whole life vs. choice religious-secular debate that divides us on almost primal levels. It's bad enough to keep him off the shelves at Wal-Mart, I'm sure.
Nail is just another in the two dozen or so Foetus records - but it contains a number of fan favorites ("Throne of Agony", "Enter The Exterminator") and some of his first forays into pure symphonic pieces ("Theme from Pigdom Come", "Overture to Pigdom Come"). Every cut seems to have a little surprise in it. My only prob with Nail is Thirwell's at times over-bearing "Oh I Is So Degraded" persona and his sometimes lack of vocal discipline - both are tendencies his later work has, um, fixed.
The concept seems to be that this is some sort of soundtrack to a movie documenting a geographic foray through the American West full of "Barflys. Fireflys. Roaches...[that] die every fucking night and fuck in the dying night" - a type of trip you'd take with Nick Cave, Charley Manson (or Bukowski) and a trunk full of mushrooms. Touchpoints for the concept might include Dante, Ginsburg, Spaghetti Westerns, Sonic Youth's "Death Valley '69" (and their later "Xpressway to Yr Skull," Spahn Ranch (one of the songs uses Manson's phone number there) as well as Hunter Thompson's own drug-fueled journey through the West. The trip seemed to be motivated by the narrator's self-hate and anger at women (""Throne of Agony" and "Pigswill"). Things go from bad to worse ("Descent Into The Inferno"). Our heroes seem to get into trouble ("Enter The Exterminator" and "DI-1-9026") and go on some sort of killing spree and then face off against each other in the desert ("Private War / Anything (Viva!)" and the "hero" is left in his madness screaming that he can do "ANYTHING! ANYTHING! ANYTHING!" Well... At least that's my take (scroll down to read someone else's)
Musical touchpoints might be Nick Cave himself (Thirlwell wrote a song for Cave and a song about him in a previous record), Eight-Eyed Spy, Coil and Euro-trash movie soundtracks.
"Overture from Pigdom Come" - One of the classical pieces. The beauty of this piece contrasts to the hellish depths of the rest of the album.
"Descent Into The Inferno" - The most B-Day Party-ish and/or Wiseblood Hell meets Heaven blues song here - probably why I like it so much. And the Manhattan Transfer break is pretty funny. Never a dull moment on this cut.
(Record pictured above - found in the budget bins at $3.99 in late 80's. Note the embossed PROMOTION USE ONLY in the lower bottom corner)
Picture taken from Foetus.org
In closing, and because he says it so much lucidly and more beautifully than I ever could, let me crib from the great Piero Scaruffi and his summation of Foetus's Nail:
Nail (1985), perhaps his masterpiece, was even more powerful, and in an "evil" way. Every single sound is exaggerated, overdone, dramatized. This album's songs are poems carved with a jack-hammer into the marble of a gravestone. A touch of retro attitude (not too different from Frank Zappa's ventures into orchestral and jazz music) is drowned into magniloquent, sinister, gloomy, tragic, terrifying industrial "symphonies". But, ultimately, this was also a heartbreaking cry of grief that soars in a landscape of desolation and depravation.Links: