AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö: Handsome Prick – Plastic Baby Living Facility

Back in the primordial days of this here blog, we attempted something called “AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö.” The basic idea was to select a bunch of unsigned bands and give them the collective review treatment to find the most worthy buried gems. It was our humble effort to remind folks that the metal underground is still an important part of the world of metal.

The next unsigned band to be ridden Rodeö-style by a group of wonderfully handsome pricks listless metal writers sporting lockdown bods1  is Dyer, Indiana’s Handsome Prick. With two full-length records already under their belt – 2016’s Enlarged to Show Texture and the following year’s Anonymityville – this deathgrind quartet return with their third outing, the brutal and brutally funny, Plastic Baby Living Facility. Read more about Handsome Prick on their Bandcamp and Facebook pages. Without further ado, release the band!

 


Steel Druhm: When we at AMG Industries decided to run an unsigned band rodeo for Indiana’s death grind act Handsome Prick, that moniker clued me in there might be some weird fuckery heading my way. And yes, third album Plastic Baby Living Facility is a breakneck blast through the unstable mind of the badly unhinged. Marrying elements of death metal and grind then seasoning the vile mix with plenty of punk and unorthodox tricks from deranged acts like Mr. Bungle and Melting Bodies, the resulting compositions shake you up as things cascade wildly from idea to idea. Luckily, the band has a pretty good sense of flow and structure that keeps it all pretty listenable. The presence of a reasonably full basket of knuckle-dusting riffs is what makes this tolerable for me. Every song has at least one lead that hits like a concrete block, providing a reference point amid the crazy tempo shifts. The vocals on the hand get so berserk at times that I want to whack the frontman on the nose with a rolled up newspaper (“Bullshit Candy Life” for example). This lessens the charm for me, and Plastic Baby Living Facility is a bit too bonkers for my subtle and refined tastes. There’s definitely talent here though, along with some interesting examples of grind running amok. Mileage may vary based on mental stability and grind fancy. 2.5/5.0

El Cuervo: Having disregarded Suave Schlong and Elegant Pecker, Indiana’s Handsome Prick do exactly what they say on the tin: offer high quality gay porn batshit grindcore with a biting sense of humor. Speed and intensity prevail as the overarching objectives but just the opener, “Family Style Suffering,” shows off a few other dicks tricks up their sleeve. Opening with a death-influenced texture and tone and harrowing growl, things swiftly transition into a cowbell-heavy breakdown before it properly kicks off. The quiet and atmospheric interlude further through the track illustrates some delicate (but similarly unexpected) characteristics too. The net position is an album which is as frantic and scattershot as its song titles, turning on a dime between riffs, tempos and styles. I can’t help but feel that this lack of focus consigns Handsome Prick to a lack of identity; I’m more interested in and amused by the release’s themes and titles than I am its music. Its leads are solid enough but their hooks don’t sink deep enough, and the record runs out of steam by its conclusion as it’s difficult to write grind which is as impactful over 36 minutes as it is over half that. Some interesting ideas but impotent overall. 2.0/5.0.

Diabolus in Muzaka: On Plastic Baby Living Facility, the third full-length from Indiana death-grind band Handsome Prick, the band finds themselves under the wide umbrella of the unhinged hyperactive death-grind stylings of Cephalic Carnage but are less technically inclined, but by no means instrumental slouches. The end product reminds me of a more polished and technical Blood Duster, specifically as heard on their wonderful Lyden nå double album, mainly because there’s ample death n’ roll stylings within. The more straightforward death-grind parts here pale in comparison to the death n’ roll, which is a problem Blood Duster did not have. When listening to Handsome Prick, I find myself immensely preferring those Southern-fried groovier parts, and “Hot Car Punishment” is a short instrumental featuring exclusively that, making it one of my favorites here. There’s nothing truly objectionable here, but there are plenty of riffs that just don’t stick, and the often scattershot-sounding songwriting makes much of the experience blur together. It’s a fun enough listen, but far from essential. 2.5/5.0

GardensTale: Remember the wonderfully demented Melted Bodies last year? Wished that attitude fit into a far more brutal mold? Also, are you a fan of dead baby jokes? My answers are yes, yes and double yes, and they match those of Handsome Prick. A relentless stream of razor-sharp riffs, face-melting brutality, hilarious song titles and sardonic ADD, Plastic Baby Living Facility is unapologetically offensive in its chainsaw deconstruction of family life, and they execute that premise with manic enthusiasm. Blunt like a sledgehammer to the face, they nonetheless manage to inject considerable melody and groove into the gleeful mayhem. They’re not quite as versatile as something like the aforementioned Melted Bodies and they might be too slight for end-of-year lists, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t some of the most fun I’ve had being beaten to a pulp since my last Archspire gig. Goddamn I miss mosh pits. 3.5/5.0

Carcharodon: when I plucked Handsome Prick from the depths of Bandcamp – for ’twas I that selected these well-groomed peckers for the Rodeö – I expected something with a wicked sense of humor, a wry groove and a gut-punch of deathgrind brutality to level even my Lockdown-bloated corpse. Handsome Prick delivered on all fronts, while also heaping in an unexpected dose of occasional melody. Frantic, frenetic, furious and feral, Plastic Baby Living Facility lurches through its 35 minutes on jagged Bambi legs, leaping between tempos and moods in ways that you suspect surprise even the band. Aside from one or two ill-judged moments (the weird Pennywise-esque vocals and bouncy punk guitar lines at the end of “Drive like Your Kids Live Hereafter, in particular), it’s also largely successful. Opening in crunching death metal mode on “Family Style Suffering” but already displaying a few more nuanced tricks, Handome Prick slam through the gears in a style sure to horrify your mechanic. They seesaw back and forth in seasickness-inducing fashion between the death-ened stylings of the likes of “Olive Branch Sodomy,” the Gadget-like grind of “Dead Dad Trading Cards” and “Sociopathgenocide,” moments of unexpected groove (“Bad Placenta”) and batshit crazy moments of genius like “Cancer Culture.” Not everything works but Handsome Prick holds nothing back and sound like they’re having a lot of fun doing it, and, you know what, it’s catching! 3.5/5.0


Show 1 footnote

  1. Except for Steel Druhm who looks like he was carved from the finest pig iron available. – Steel
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