In the run up to the release of this cassette, Bleeders had been steadily building a following on the live circuit on their home turf of Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. That sort of makes sense since they have a sound that would surely work much better live; on record, their no-frills, no-wave, distorted, zero budget approach is hellishly ugly. So much so, that it makes label mates The Meltaways seem like a manufactured, multi-million dollar, radio groomed pop rock trio by direct comparison. The recording of ‘Gash’ is so raw and unrelentingly grotesque, it borders on being unlistenable. Looking at it another way, it’s so hard going, that’s an achievement in itself.
After a very brief count in, ‘Predator’ grumbles away at a mid pace, mixing devastating garage rock with the harshest sounds of mid 70s proto punk. The angriness cuts through like a proverbial knife…or it would if any of the lyrics were decipherable beyond the odd F-bomb and the repeated refrain of “I’ll kill you”. Throughout the track, the vocals snarl and spit like an extreme version of the younger Lene Lovich; screams are on hand to offset an already disturbed arrangement and by the time the last bars slow to a crawl, this band have already pushed away many listeners, presumably somewhat gleefully. ‘Aunt Flo’ teases with slightly more melody, as a more mechanised style informs the main riff – carrying a fragment of tune that owes a huge amount to early Wire – while the off-kilter and unfussy vocal could be the garage rock equivalent of Justine Frischmann (in turn, borrowing heavily from the Wire chaps). The riff is joined by some hard and relatively simple rhythmic backdrops and the lack of production values really brings out the drums in an effective way. If the sounds of Wire played through a broken amp appeal to you, then this track shows promise…if not, it’s a challenging and somewhat disturbing lo-fi assault. Either way, it’s still the best tune in Bleeders’ arsenal by a country mile.
‘Kinkster’ reverts to something almost lacking melody but at least it seems very big on structure. Two heavily distorted bass chords collide with a heavy bass drum to deliver almost robotic garage rock sounds. The volume is devastatingly intense…and only ever becomes more so. As things progress, there are angular guitars added and yelping vocals. At the climax, the growls and screams are so furious, they almost become white noise. ‘Forced Vaginal Ultrasound’, meanwhile, sounds like the bastard child of Keith Morris era Black Flag jamming with Genovia Forever until everyone’s ears are ready to bleed. The verses are constructed from fairly bog-standard, heavily distorted garage rock noise, but the use of stops and screams on the chorus helps pique interest. This confronting and semi-jarring approach shows there’s thought within the defiant levels of Bleeders’ patented distorto-torture, but the resultant noise is still not recommended for the weak willed or the impatient.
Taking its name from a horrible media invented word, ‘Mansplainer’ attacks with a rhythmically heavy backline, over which extremely distorted bass is interspersed by noises that sound like electronic treatments; all the while, the lyric snarls, growls and spits, without ever being clear with its message, before ‘Stay Away’ completes this audio nightmare with a hybrid of noise that sounds as if a band from the Amphetamine Reptile label set about reworking the Minor Threat catalogue before adding selection of electronic noises and buzzes. There’s a pleasing descending scale that emerges from the chaos, but – as always – don’t expect this to be an easy ride. The Distillers, it ain’t.
Throughout these six tracks, the distortion comes at speaker busting levels, the vocals attack in an absolutely unforgiving manner and – looking at the whole package – Bleeders are certainly out to provoke an extreme reaction. They certainly do that: while lots of music can appeal when stripped down to its baser elements, these guys aren’t anywhere near as accessible as your average garage punks. ‘Gash’ is a release that’s likely to be a miss for everyone except the most lo-fi obsessed. Even in terms of feminist hardcore noise, it is a tough, tough listen.