Being loud is an art. Strike that, being artfully loud is an art, being regular loud only requires some amperage. The key seems to be finding a way to harness the sound of collision, to ride on top of the train as it crashed. Few artists have really been able to do it. Iggy and the Stooges pulled it off with the in-the-red masterpiece Raw Power, and Butthole Surfers had more than their share of aggressive noise fests. Locally, Giant Princess churns out a good mob scene.
However, when it comes to sheer explosiveness done without chaos we're hard-pressed to think of a better act than Female Demand. Their latest release, Outside the Universe is a tight collection of experimental prog metal, if you can all anything done with just drums and a bass rig prog metal, that would be annoying if it didn't rock so damned much.
Bradley Muñoz and Jonathan Perez take a listener headfirst into songs that drown you like a psychotic customer drowns a snotty waiter in the lobster tank with their seemingly random noise and completely unintelligible vocals, but like a sudden act of remorse they'll pull you free into driving rhythms and melodic lines that release every inch of tension and demand that you move, move, MOVE!
"Eat Who I Eat" is as good an example as any of the what you can find on Outside the Universe, being also the song chosen for the band's first music video for the album. Somewhere under that high, affected wail of Muñoz must be a message. We can hear snatches of words, edges of phrases that weave in and out of his bass playing and over and under the frantic stick work of Perez, but exactly what the message is remains elusive. Not since Batman flipped the Joker's semi has something so violent been so expertly timed.
Not that the album spends every moment in fifth gear. Midway through you is "Military Industrial Complex in a Cup." On one hand no other song on the album is so metal in the original Black Sabbath meaning of the word. At any moment you expect Ozzy to bust in with some sobering thoughts on the devil. On the other hand, its precision movements are more ballet than thrash down. FrenetiCore has done interpretive dance to similar music, and here's to hoping that they discover Female Demand's potential as performance partners.
Though we haven't seen the band live, save through the window of the music video for "Eat," their music makes imagining the scene easy. Each song seems built for rage and rest, guiding a listener through adrenaline-powered spasms of pure mosh. We imagine that their sets end as Outside does, with the final cathartic darkness of "Vicious Cycle." The song is a slow number by Female Demand's standards, but full of a heaving, breathless hopelessness that transfers their physical energy into spiritual. All that's left when it's over is burnt fuses, both mechanical and biological.
Rocks Off: How on Earth is it possible to make that sound with just drums and a bass rig? Do you think you'll ever expand beyond that, or do you even want to?
Jonathan Perez: You know, being able to create a full sound with just our set up comes a lot easier then some may think. It's the way Bradley really considers his bass rig and set up, and than there's an ever lasting search for louder drums for myself. And since Bradley is already so loud, I have to be able to compensate for my lake of amplification. So the sound is kind of a coping mechanism for our set up I suppose.
RO: You're not really concerned with rather your lyrics are intelligible are you?
JP: Not necessarily. If people really want to know what we're saying then it's left up to their interpretation in the end. We write lyrics that coincide with how we're feeling but feel that it's another avenue for us to explore and manipulate.
RO: There's something not just loud, but inherently violent and destructive in your music, thinking specifically "Paint My Brains With Your House" and "Many Cancers." Is rage the driving creative force behind your compositions?
JP: Actually no, rage is not a driving force in the band. Although yeah, at points we're pissed off about stuff, but more often then not we're just really relaxed dudes. If anything it's life that inspires us. The shit that makes us human. Our insecurities and our imperfections. The things that society fears the most is where we get our inspiration from.
RO: What is the Female Demand version of a love song?
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JP: That's really funny you should ask that. Referring to our EP that we released a few years back, the song, "I Was Waiting," was actually our first attempt at a "love" song. Although the song was far from interpreted as a "love" song our audience still enjoyed it. But we're still working and growing as song writers so a "love" may or may not be on the way.
RO: Two songs seem very linked to us, "Military Industrial" and "Vicious Cycle." Both are somewhat softer and more melodic than the majority of the album, and both feel very global and hopeless. Where does that come from, and why the change-up.
JP: "Military Industrial Complex" is an older song that we wrote a long time ago. It's kind of our attempt at a stoner metal song like Sleep's "Holy Mountain." The hopelessness comes from the insecurities of the human society and personal fears. "Vicious Cycle" is a song that we wrote and is very open ended. We wanted something dark and something that steered away from our usual spaz out rock routine. The whole album dwells on fear and insecurity in mainstream culture and just picks at it insistently. I just felt we should write something that isn't just worth hearing, but it makes you think after a few times of listening to it. We're not just out for your ears, we're out for your minds.
Female Demand will be releasing Outside the Universe on Friday, February 10 at Fitzgerald's with B L A C K I E, Caddywhompus, and Zorch.