2 Ynfynyty (Brutal Panda)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., April 3, 2015
Cherubs2 Ynfynyty (Brutal Panda)
For a band whose initial run spanned only two years, Cherubs left a deep welt that still smarts hard and true. Splitting up just as 1994's Heroin Man emerged as the pH unbalanced gospel of Texas noise-rock, the Austin trio's legacy retained sufficient pungency two decades later to compel the release of Everyone's Dead Before They Leave, a tribute album boasting a globe-girdling array of acts. The acclaim was accompanied by news that guitarist/vocalist Kevin Whitley, bassist Owen McMahon, and drummer Brent Prager had regrouped to write and record new songs. The result, 2 Ynfynyty, is a legitimate successor to Heroin Man that leaves all geriatric preconceptions about reunion albums choking on hard candies. Opener "Sandy on the Beach" heralds a mossless return to form with a carsick surge of calibrated distortion, Whitley's high-registered garble and Prager's lethal crash cymbal providing dynamic counterweight to the amplified root. The local threesome goes one better on "Monkey Chow Mein," an epic, six-minute groove built around an unassailable riff hewn from the canon of Blue Cheer and left to desiccate in the sun. "Cumulo Nimbus" provides more heavy-eyelid exposition as Whitley delivers a warped meditation on the unencumbered state of clouds. The midsection breakdown peels back the cacophony to a near-bucolic calm before McMahon's foreboding bassline incants ultimate doom with raw, naturalistic fury. As Black Sabbath evoked bleak postwar Birmingham, the Cherubs embody the pit-stained brutality of Texas in August. While 2 Ynfynyty would be a revelation in any era, its spirals of demolition assume extra contrarian vitality when heard in its hometown against the backdrop of dilapidated low-rent squats giving way to million-dollar investment properties. Eschewing easy nostalgia for unequivocal force, this is how to rage against the dying of the light without embarrassing yourself.