The JonBenét

Okay. I get it now. It’s taken me a while, admittedly — I first had these guys pegged as just another spazzcore band with a weird, kinda morbid name and who wasn’t good for much beyond giving me a headache. I’ve got a low, low, low tolerance for stuff like Dillinger Escape Plan or Converge, and these guys hail from the same dark, violent corner of the musical forest, so my expectations were pretty much set. I mean, seriously, I’ve got enough during my day to make my head hurt, right?

Over the past year or so (and with much prodding from other folks), though, and after repeated listenings, I’ve come to my senses and gotten past the initial misgivings to realize, “holy shit, these guys are really freakin’ good.” Sure, The JonBenét is pretty headache-inducing, but fuck that; they’re also brilliantly complex, raw, and ferocious, combining sneering/yelping vocals (for the most part) with scraping, grinding guitars and a rhythm section that’s absolutely fearless and unrelenting. The guitars saw back and forth, the drums hammer, the bass churns, and vocalist Michael Murland howls like a man being torn apart (tastefully) by wild boars.

Best of all, each time the chaos threatens to explode out of control — as it does pretty much throughout The JonBenét’s two albums so far, 2005’s The Plot Thickens and 2006’s Ugly/Heartless (nope, can’t say they’re misrepresenting themselves, at least…) — the band reins it all in and sends it in a new direction. And they do it without sounding like they’re just patching different styles together willy-nilly; it all flows beautifully, like all crushing, sludgy metalcore breaks are obviously meant to segue neatly to quieter bits with almost-pretty vocals. (Don’t believe the allmusic writeup, by the way — “[noisy] indie rock/grunge revivalists”? On what fucking planet? If these guys are “reviving” grunge, they’re apparently doing it using an electric chair and a lot of voodoo.)

And as for the name and the attendant controversy/righteous outrage, hey, so what? This is Houston, home of the dirty, nasty, and hypocritically depraved; we’ve got megachurches and gigantic strip clubs, sometimes in the same square mile. We have a long and glorious history of bands who mine the sicker side of our cultural swamp, and honestly, I could give a crap what these guys called themselves, so long as they keep making music this good.

Post by . This entry was posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2007. Filed under Past Bands.

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