Written by: Dave Cantrell
There’s something going on in Toronto. Sex Static, the new, debut EP from Ell V Gore is roaring testimony to the existence of a monstrous force tearing through the clubs up there, storming Canada’s largest city like the bastard child of a ménage à trois between the Swans, Wire and Iceage born in a tornado. The thundering brainchild of a certain Ell V, at twenty-four already a seasoned veteran of Toronto’s punk and no wave scenes (when he’s not compering at strip clubs for some extra dosh), the band Ell V Gore is poised to pour forth over the border in a wave of punishing ecstasy.
Legendary for their intense, incendiary live performances, that atom-smashing energy is, for once, faithfully captured on every one of the four tracks on this EP. Exciting to the point of jaw-dropping, this is genuine paint-peeling late night industrialized post-punk extraordinaire, beholden to no particular forebear while slinging influences about as if in reckless tantrums. Opening track “Her Vicious” could be Birthday Party if they were trying to win a Suicide sound-alike competition, it’s lurid and pulse-quickening and suggests what Campag Velocet could have sounded like had they come within a mile of their potential. “Lobotomy,” with those early synthesizer sirens giving way to the unrelenting, almost Valhallan pound of drums and a bass digging unmentionable things from under the floor of the garage, is Wired-up Cramps operating on a seemingly unsustainable turbo-drive, Ell V even getting in some deranged psychobilly yelps towards the end as the air swells with chaos descending on every side. “Smack Me Up,” after a rather perversely fuzz-poppy guitar intro, spirals rapidly outward into a driving DK-styled riff (“Ottawa Über Alles?”) that, if punk, is punk as a kind of demented nocturne, Ell V’s sinister vocals shadowed in reverb, a crashing eeriness falling all around him. Though wandering about for a bit in mournful Bauhausian territory, “Death Strings (Los Angeles)” eventually erupts into a more mountainous soundscape, climbing up the sheer rock face and giving some some substance to the notion of Tchaikovsky covering Killing Joke.
Frenetic, commandingly impolite about the edges while not in any way sloppy, with pitch-perfect production that allows the band to maintain a most menacing blend of exuberant urban dread mixed with a hounding, dangerous beauty, this EP has the breathless air of arrival about it, signalling in Ell V Gore that wonderfully agitated sense of promise that makes us all 23-years-old and immortal, exactly the sort of thing we’re always looking for in rock ‘n’ roll. In Sex Static, it’s been found.
– Dave Cantrell