Sectlinefor – Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak

I’ve always appreciated metal bands willing to include a hefty dose of comedy in their work. In a genre known for taking itself too seriously at times, wedding irreverence with heaviness can be an artistic gamble, and I appreciate that commitment. Melted Bodies’ Enjoy Yourself was a favorite of 2020, Slugdge’s amazingly ridiculous Slug God mythos has had me sold ever since The Cosmic Cornucopia, and who can forget modern thrash’s obsession with hard-partying zombies? The fact that such bands employ comedic imagery, satirical lyrics or non-traditional instrumentation while addressing real issues (whether personal or public) make their output all the more impressive. It’s why I was quick to jump at the chance to review Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak, the latest from Sectlinefor, a deranged duo who perform, in their own words, “freshly squeezed cinematic rock music you didn’t order, sir.” After imbibing their third album, I’d say that description is an understatement. But are Sectlinefor as freshly squeezed as they claim? Is their alternative metal glass half full or half empty?

The first line on the “About” section on Sectlinefor’s website condenses their approach: “I believe it’s our duty to do everything we can to piss the metal purists off.” I don’t know if they’ve succeeded, although I can imagine programmed drums, reliance on electronic elements and the off-kilter, pop-inspired, rap-adjacent vocals may indeed turn off some metal traditionalists. The sentiment is definitely correct though; they’re not your grandfather’s metal band, and they probably won’t be your grandson’s either. While the promo material says Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak is for fans of Devin Townshend and Faith No More, I hear a wide and dizzyingly disparate variety of influences. From a vocal delivery that’s part Beastie Boys, part The Lonely Island, to an atmosphere that oozes the kind of “scary pop” perfected by groups like Oingo Boingo. Add in a dash of industrial and a heaping cup of electronica, reminiscent of the most uncomfortable She Wants Revenge tunes. Cap it all off with Jared, vocalist and lyricist who exudes serious Die Antwoord’s Ninja vibes and Piton, the early-2000s Mushroomhead-masked guitarist and composer, and you have a rough understanding of what you’re about to experience: a trip best taken with a handler nearby.

And somehow, this ketamine-induced musical hallucination works, in no small part thanks to its willingness to mix off-the-wall lyrics, deranged vocal deliveries and comedic elements (including some choice song titles) with quality hooks and plenty of variety. The back-to-back lunacy of opening track “Milk Your Friends,” and single “The Saddest Face in all of Existence” are the perfect kickoff to this short, ten song monstrosity. The melding of heavy guitars, walls of electronic orchestration and vocals clearly suffering from multiple personality disorder form a cacophonous yet oddly satisfying journey into the mouth of madness. Subsequent tracks like “Six Minute Abs”, “Babies Come from Trees” and “Hydration Party” take the electronic absurdity to the next level, spitting out even more pop-influenced choruses, erratic vocals, lunatic lyrics and waves of synths, beats and now and then a guitar are two. And I can’t help but come back for more.

However, for all of the disturbing delights on display, the gents behind Sectlinefor could have upped the weird quotient significantly by simply incorporating more guitar. It seems like a simple solution, and one I hope Jared and Piton implement on their next outing. The previously-mentioned first two tracks do this with surprising effectiveness, balancing six-string heaviness with the chaotic flair of electronic instrumentation. While I enjoy every track on Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak, it’s the songs that employ more guitar that are not only personal favorites, but which also tend to produce the most certifiable sounds. And on this album, that’s a compliment.

Sectlinefor’s latest doesn’t just swing for the fences; it uses a skateboard to whack thumb tacks at everyone sitting in the bleachers. Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak is a hard-to-define, genre-bending exploration led by the creatively crazed, eager to break all the rules and then point and laugh at the shards. While this isn’t a perfect album, it’s bold and brazen, accomplishing in 34 minutes and 47 seconds what so many acts struggle to do year after year. Is it metal? Is it rock? Is it neither? I’d advise you to give it a spin. But please, kissing strangers is still ill-advised.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Independent Release
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 28th, 2021

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