Everyone knows heavy metal is super-serious business. It’s all about the menacing look you give to no one in particular as you gaze out into the black-and-white grainy forest at dusk. It’s about the hours you spend in muso training to play Phrygian-mode arpeggios in 11/4 over a drumbeat in 7. It’s about the ills of society, about the hatred of religion, the myriad failures of mankind; it’s about life and death and living and dying, and it’s about all the darkness between.
And then along comes a band like King Parrot to fuck all that up.
These Australian ne’er-do-wells are now on their third record, and Ugly Produce is pretty much the same as the other two, which is to say that it’s a rollicking mash-up of thrash and grind and hardcore, seemingly held together with spit and duct tape, eternally just a half-step from total collapse, and all served up with a shit-eating grin. Vocalist Matt “Youngy, And Also Not Angus” Young chatters in the same high-pitched grating shriek he’s always used, that throat-scraping piercing tone likely the band’s most distinctive musical characteristic and its most off-putting. The remainder of the Parrots live and die by Young’s hand: Save for a few catchy riffs from Ari White and Squiz – most notably in album opener and early highlight “Entrapment” and in the thrashy bite of “Disgrace Yourself” – the majority of Ugly Produce has to fight against its own tendency to blur into a punk-metal wash between rough-and-tumble blastbeats and those ragged screams.
Label: Agonia / Housecore.
After that, the second half of the record isn’t quite as immediate as that winning stretch, but there are growers amongst its ranks. The thrash emerges again on “Numb Skull,” with a twisting second-half riff, a killer midtempo ending, and another catchy shout-along chorus. “Scattered” is a rapid-fire rager, with Young spitting words as fast as he can, and the backgrounds intertwining with his screams. The closing track “Spookin’ The Animals” makes the most of a half-time stuttering riff, before jumping right back into frantic thrashcore, one of the album’s weakest numbers that unfortunately lets the listener drift away before the end.
Even with some lesser numbers on the back half, Ugly Produce remains a solid album. There’s ultimately something eminently enjoyable in King Parrot’s blend of styles – when everything comes together, it’s a fun ride, and the band’s mischievous humor is endearing, if oftentimes it’s even more endearing than the actual music. These Aussies haven’t made a truly great record yet, but they’re getting pretty good at making good ones, and sometimes good is good enough. And no matter what, Ugly Produce certainly makes a nice break from forest-gazing and Phrygian frettery.