Ecstatic Punishment – The Startling Arrival of Ell V Gore

Ell V Gore
Static Sex EP
Bad Actors

Written by:

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.

ell v gore image

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