ARTS

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July 12, 2002

F#$%ing predictable

The Fucking Champs

V

Drag City Records

If you're reading this, you probably have some idea who the Fucking Champs are, so I'll skip the boring Record Review 101 crap and get started right away. Just in case: Fucking Champs are a instrumental heavy metal band who cater to an indie rock audience. There may or may not be a wink. I cannot find the wink, but that does not mean the wink is not there.

V begins with the two-part "Never Enough Neck" suite, which sounds an awful lot like the first two tracks on the Champs' IV, which sound an awful lot like old Metallica, which sounds a lot like, uh, heavy metal music. All the same, if you're just rewriting the same instrumental metal song over and over, Ride the Lightning is probably a pretty good place to do your cribbing.

Of course, the Fucking Champs have a soft spot for art metal at least as large as their soft spot for post-Mustaine, pre-Newsted Metallica—as evidenced on the album's second song, "Children Perceive the Hoax Cluster," a dreamy, shrill excursion into the world of what video game music will sound like in the year 3000. "I am the Album Cover" shifts the band back into thrash territory with some very nice double axe warfare. Be careful with this puppy. Sick solo at the end, though.

Everything starts to fall apart at or around this point in the album—"The Virtues of Cruising" features lots of strings covering up quiescent geetar work. Pretty, but uh, kind of useless. Almost everything from this point on is pretty useless.

Take "Aliens of Gold" for instance. This song does not make any sense. Starts with a triangle (a triangle!), which gives way to government-issue Fucking Champs double guitar onslaught, with a particularly brutal drum track driving things along, which gives way to a quiet bit. Ah, then it's loud again. Frenetic even. Same tempo as before From 2:25 to 2:42, there are two separate drum fills, one lasting six seconds, the second lasting nine seconds. That's a whole lot of drum fill. And I like drum fills. A lot, actually. Then more riffs. These dudes can play, but this is really masturbatory. Fake coda, riffs, Springsteen live set-esque chaos at the end…and all stop. Onan the Barbarian has been here. The fingerprints of Onan the Barbarian are all over this song.

"Air on the G-string" follows. It is in fact a Bach cover. Respectful, I guess. I did not know that the word "restraint" was in the vocabulary of the Fucking Champs.

Along comes "Hats Off to Music," which sounds a lot like vintage VH, only crunchier. Not that cool really. This album is getting kind of tedious at this point.

The back third of V doesn't really do anything for me. There's "Policenauts 2000"—it's a bit cheeky to reference your own work (see IV, "Policenauts")—at least they picked one of their best songs for this—there's a chirpy little riff, irresistible video game hovercraft race synth line, and is that keyboard or guitar? It's not really that important that I know the answer to that question.

"Part three" seems like the third, quiet part of the "Never Enough Neck" suite. "Happy Segovia" features more faux-Metroid music, and the good title/bad song monster rears his ugly head on the closer "Chorale Motherfucker"—more tossoff art metal shite. It's a disappointing ending, given that IV's best song was the last one on the album. ("Extra Man").

I don't know what else to say about the Fucking Champs. If you own IV, don't bother with V. A couple minutes of transcendent metal is hardly worth rooting through the other 35 minutes of V. But who am I to judge?