Masks Phantoms, …and All the Rest into a Sulphurous Horror

Masks Phantoms, ...and All the Rest into a Sulphurous Horror

It’s almost impossible these days to classify bands — what’s the difference between hardcore and post-punk? The difference between emocore and plain old emo? Between grindcore and shit? I’m kind of worried that music is slowly becoming a naming game with nothing to separate the differences. And the worst part is that all these bands exist under that pesky moniker “indie” — the word that has made homogeneity popular again. Every once in a while, though, a record comes along that brings with it a sigh of relief, like, “finally, here’s something I can grab onto and not let go.”

That’s exactly how it feels from the first second of the first song on Masks Phantoms’ …and All the Rest Into a Sulphurous Horror (available now on Paradeco Records). It’s a punk album, all the way punk. And not the punk that Spin calls “punk.” This is 1979-1981 all over again, the I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude that made The Slits and The Clash and The Sex Pistols more important than the Beatles.

There’s not even a hint of pretense on the entire record, which is something necessary to the ethos of punk music; and at just under thirty-one minutes, Sulphurous Horror is a joy to listen to from start to finish (Masks Phantoms sound a bit like a less-severe Dropkick Murphys — kind of like how the Murphys would sound if they had a music baby with They Might be Giants). The band arrived on the scene organically, forming sort of by accident in the underbelly of Seattle’s anti-grunge movement.

They built their own studio to record this record (with stolen materials — so rock star) and seem to be unaware, or at least unconcerned about, the wonders of modern technology (I think they might not have cellphones, but I can’t be sure). Masks Phantoms is a real punk band that makes real punk songs that are really short. Almost every song (all but one, if I’m not mistaken, and the one that’s not is almost entirely instrumental) is under three minutes, but they seem to be much longer than that because each and every one of them works together seamlessly, like it’s a thirty-minute record comprised of one song. And that’s what makes it sound right.

Some of the standout songs on Sulphurous Horror are “Plans for Champions,” “Sand Magic Kill Donkey,” “Form to Further,” and “Walking Amputees.” I would tell you what these songs are about (if I knew), but on this type of punk record, it’s not really what they’re about, is it? It’s more about how they sound, how they move you. And move you they will. Somewhere fun, I imagine.

(Paradeco Records --; Masks Phantoms --

Review by . Review posted Saturday, January 3rd, 2009. Filed under Reviews.

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