Formed to supplant the final incarnation of harsh-edged Philadelphia techno-oriented dance-rockers Executive Slacks, Tubalcain brought back departed co-founder John Young (keyboards/programming) to join Slacks singer Athanasios Demetrios Maroulis (by then also the singer in the more durable industrial electronics duo Spahn Ranch) and drummer Harry Lewis; guitarist Robb Jordan and bassist Stephen Lentz round out the new crew. Incorporating occasional thrashy rhythms rather than making a point of them, resigning electronics to an accent not a compelling force, Tubalcain takes a forthright rock course on 25 Assorted Needles — Jordan’s angry guitar energy slobbers all over the lumbering, goth-inflected songs — and sounds much less distinctive as a result. Athan was never the previous band’s strongest feature; expecting his sturdy roar (and ludicrous cave-wall lyrics: “The painted eyes of snakes are born a serpents womb/And baring the swords of teeth see the flowers flame”) to carry a plainer load just doesn’t make sense. For all its exertions, Tubalcain’s ominous temperament is scarcely unsettling; the chaotic heavy-gravity cover of the Rolling Stones’ “2000 Light Years From Home” (or, as Athan sings it, “hoa-umm”) is tragic. Also worth a complaint to the authorities: several tracks end in hasty fades that suggest sloppy mastering.
Repressed is a posthumous anthology of Executive Slacks, which ended its proto-industrial decade in 1991. Among the thirteen tracks making their way to CD for the first time are “Nausea” (a song used in an episode of Miami Vice), “The Bus” and the group’s entertaining cover of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll.