muzzleLoader
Live Band Review
by Jon Dunmore © Feb 2002
The Roxy, February 20, 2002.



Tuesday night. What to do in the big city for a spot of hard-core adrenaline-rush? Well, there’s Club Lingerie, where the ecstasy-drenched 21-year-olds will suck you drier than the last raisin on a lifeboat; there’s Highland Grounds, where the Poetry Slams will leave you with a hunger for the sniper’s rifle unmatched since the days of Dealey Plaza; there’s also a piston-driven band of long-hairs at The Roxy called muzzleLoader…

Eschewing the pervery and the snipery, I sojourned down Roxy way – well, I had free tickets…and a camera, and a head full of Vicks NyQuil.

The Roxy is still one of the best “real venues” to play on the Strip; reasonable sound, lights, and adequate techs to run them - except, if I’m gonna pay six bucks for a beer, I want it in a GLASS, you gutless whoremongers. Why the hell employ neanderthal bouncers if you don’t allow them the impunity to crack heads once the beer bottles start flying? Let’s you an’ me dance, country boay…

Ladies and gentlemen…muzzleLoader: Evoking a sense of fuck-you freedom rarely witnessed onstage in this age of corporate musical decline, the hybridized flesh-tearing thunder of muzzleLoader washed over me like a twofold tsunami: first – viscerally unballing my sockets with raw, train-wreckage rock; second – for those who would dare peer through the beer glass darkly, challenging my cochlea to decode the boundless musical intricacies hidden in full view amidst the swirling madness; muzzleLoader come fully seasoned like a fine bottle of Chateau Lafitte Rothschilds 1956 - that someone has smashed over your skull from behind.

On gutter vocals, merkusAlkus, who claims to have been hanged as a witch in 1764; on spasming guitar, treyCreager, who claims he was the executioner; on warhead bass, darenBurns, who claims to have been in Shropshire at the time; on whiplash drums, yashaFilisov, who witnessed the execution as a small girl holding a duck.

Unlike many of their contemporaries in the modern heavy rock field, there are no guitars here gated to the point of strangulation; Creager bodily throws varied playing styles into every tune, like a desperate artist defining each piece with its own lusty signature. Burns at every bend in the road, complementing the energy, subtlety or brutality required. In this age of invidious consumerism, you’d be hard pressed to come across any band that doesn’t sport outboard gear that looks like it could land the Space Shuttle without NASA’s permission; muzzleLoader are no exception, Creager and Burns sporting pedal arrays which would make any Shuttle Commander tremble. Unlike most other bands, though, these guys have coaxed aural miracles from their tangled esoteric gadgetry, making it work for them rather than the other way ‘round. Stacking height on the drama, Burns also strokes an upright electric bass on Estrogen, a liquid daze that perfectly suits the fretless idiom. muzzleLoader’s live ‘sound’ is a dragon of heavy-duty beauty, as yet uncaptured on CD or elsewhere.

Though their debut CD, The Not So Secret Lies Of Bobby Scorpio, is far from insipid, compared to their onstage onslaught, it pales slightly – chalk it up to the disparity between ‘hearing’ complex passages and actually ‘seeing’ them expertly performed; chalk it up to your home stereo not being as brainsplitting as a rock venue’s PA; chalk it up to Rosie O’Donnell being a big fat ugly boiler – whatever the case, muzzleLoader, like The Who, Kiss, Led Zeppelin and other bands whose presence adds mountains to the music, only truly stalk the nightmare and cry havoc when In The Flesh.

And speaking of the bane of rock music: the double-kick pedal; rarely have I seen a drummer wield this superfluous piece of machinery as deftly as yashaFilisov. After being assaulted for eons with boof-haired upstarts who think they possess enough coordination to manipulate TWO bass-drum pedals let alone KEEP A GODDAM GROOVE fer chrissakes, this monster of technique once and for all shows those spastics how it oughta be done. My hat is tipped. My raisinets are melted. Singing, This is how we do it. Yo. Yo. Yo.

And the lyrics? Yeh – they’re about sex. Unashamedly so. Unabridged for popular consumption. merkusAlkus is a cucumber-cool proponent of the “stream-of-consciousness” spoken word. Shoeless, flannel-shirted, leather-panted god of bile and cunnilingus, his onstage presence is unlike the all-too-familiar sleeve-tattooed, muntoid lead singer groping for acceptance in a cold world – he just…doesn’t…care. No wailing in anguish at his girl leaving him or how fame is really shit-on-a-stick – give him beer and a stage and he’ll tell you all about the wild, wet fantasies you’re too scared to talk about for fear of imprisonment; and maybe he’ll make you think a little as well, about the paranoia and hypocrisy of a society who would imprison you for such natural desires…

Song titles: 15 And Levitating, Eaten At The Y, Go Fix Yourself, Sweet Spot, muzzleLoader, Semper Fi. The Marine catch-cry: semper fidelis – Always Faithful; in the mouth of merkusAlkus, a cynical spin to the inculcation. Though muzzleLoader may not even guess at it (though I think that merkus knows full well the implications) relating this dictum to the band itself evokes an image of staying true to their rebellious roots, their self-indulgent musings, their devotion to delivering the goods...

muzzleLoader’s musical prowess reeks of old-school delirium - riffs within riffs, cross-grooves and layers of meated onion – definitively illustrating they are not angst-ridden, four-chord pasty-boys spitting their barre-chorded crap into the moshpit for the Doc Martened morons. Ironically, that demographic is muzzleLoader’s mainstay of screamers; the same fans who made rockstars of Spacehog, Matchbox 20 and Green Day need not delve too deeply to experience muzzleLoader’s ferocious power – it is the superposition of this power over their intrinsic musicality that will drive muzzleLoader into more discerning audience realms and ensure their longevity as a creative force, remaining always challenging, always driving, semper fidelis.


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Edited: 2004, May 29