La Muerte

  • La Muerte
  • And the Mystery Goes On EP (Bel. Soundwork) 1985 
  • Peep Show EP (Bel. Soundwork) 1986 
  • Every Soul by Sin Oppressed (UK Big Disk) 1987 
  • Scorpio Rising EP (Bel. Sex Wax) 1988 
  • Death Race 2000 (Play It Again Sam) 1989 
  • Experiment in Terror (Bel. Play It Again Sam) 1990 
  • Kustom Kar Kompetition (Play It Again Sam/Caroline) 1991 

In the wake of the Birthday Party came a worldwide wave of psychoswampabilly rockers who took that band’s manic-depressive bluesrock and turned it into a music genre. Belgium’s La Muerte was one of those bands. With growling, howling French and English vocals, stop/start frenzy and a guitar that at times does nothing more than squeal with feedback shavings, And the Mystery Goes On out-Parties the Birthday Party, delivering a four-song gothic dose of angst and aggression. The entire lyrics of the fierce “Massacre” are “whooaaah” and “suffering,” voiced in a deviled frenzy of a howl over a hard-crunched drum pound and feedback shivers of guitar; the outstanding “Blues, Heaven or Hell” veers from tense to burning through a dark, crawling labyrinth.

There’s not much difference between Mystery and the five-song Peep Show. The latter contains a swampbeat re-arrangement of Syd Barrett’s “Lucifer Sam” that squiggles with warped guitar, tweets off into space-rock territory and climaxes with a feedback crescendo; there’s also a phone sex tape, “Blues, Heaven or Hell” and two new BP-styled tracks.

Every Soul by Sin Oppressed finds La Muerte capable of far greater intricacy, incorporating harmonica, acoustic guitar and a more slowly woven web of tension in “The Rope’s Around Your Neck” and “Mannish Boy.” “So Bad” crosses into psychobilly, while “You’re Not an Angel” continues their parallel development with Nick Cave’s work, sounding like a companion piece to “From Her to Eternity.”

The four tracks on Scorpio Rising take four different directions. The title tune introduces sampling and dialogue cut-ups in a collage of air raid control room talk, newscasts, TV/movie bites and laugh boxes, all slathered over a slowly shifting base of feedback. The percussion in “Lost My Mind” sounds like a bullet doing a tap-dance; the monster growl screams could pass for demonic possession at your next exorcism. “Shoot in Your Back” (which also turns up on Death Race 2000) continues to reflect Cave’s influence, while “Hellfire” is a foray into a loud psychedelia.

La Muerte’s first American release, Death Race 2000, has harder and sparser percussion; guitar chords are grungier, even metallic at times. The faintly post-industrial production style occasionally obscures the Cave/BP influence, but the monster scream hasn’t changed a bit. Imagine away the beat on “Ecoute Cette Priere,” and you’ve got the same dark bluesy undulations as ever.

[Andrea 'Enthal]