They cover such songs as Link Wray’s “Preacher Man” and Terry Jacks’ “Which Way You Goin’ Billy.” Every other word out of their mouths has to do with god in some shape or form. There are enough sermons embedded between the notes to stock a religious radio station. One song even begins with a sweet little girl singing a hymn. But make no mistake about it: gospel this ain’t. The God Bullies are everything Sister Mary Elizabeth warned you about.
Formed in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the God Bullies debuted in 1988 with the single “All I Want Is My Mamma” (a different recording of which appears on Mamawombwomb) and followed that with the cassette-only half-live/half-studio Plastic Eye Miracle (later vinylized in Germany). Hooking up with Amphetamine Reptile, the quartet has proceeded apace, recording songs like “Monster Jesus,” “Red Blood” and “Let’s Go to Hell” with and without the Jesus Goes to Hell Singers (Mary Kate Murray and Tabatha Predovich).
As the voice of the beast, Mike Hard has learned his lessons well from the Sisters of Mercy: a slow, deep growl interspersed with a glazed-eyed psycho laugh so gleeful and ghoulish that you wonder if it’s an act or just the Halidol wearing off. Guitarist (and electronic keyboardist, but fear not: no pseudo strings here) David B. Livingstone works in a harsh and nyarling style on Mamawombwomb and in a grungier and scuzzier vein with bassist Mike Corso for Dog Show. On the former’s “Sex Power Money,” the guitar twists like a slug in the garden. In “Follow the Leader,” a megaphoned tribute of sorts inspired by Jim Jones, the voice exhorts “All my children, my little sheep, let’s go to heaven in a tangled heap” while the guitar squirms in sinew-grunge. Like Foetus, this band revels in badness. Religion and death, murder and death, suicide and death, psychosis and death. It’s all locked within the music’s hard, guts-über-alles grooves.
The version of “Act of Desire” on Mamawombwomb (the song also appears in a live rendition on Plastic Eye Miracle) opens with a loop of “Art Linkletter, Art Linkletter” and a repeated “do it now,” then proceeds to introduce burbling synthesizers that tweet like the filaments of a 1950s Frankenstein lab, interlaid with soft sirens, followed by television sermonizer Jack Van Impe preaching the evils of rock’n’roll music.
After Dog Show, drummer Adam Berg was replaced by Tony Oliveri of the Cows, who made his debut on the double 7-inch Join Satan’s Army EP: three mutated covers (including Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing”) and the metal-parody title track.