Transistor Transistor is one of those bands that can bring all the fury without all the noise. They don’t need death metal distortion or the deepest growls you have ever heard in order to unleash their brand of rock-fueled, raging hardcore. Their guitars carry that “I just play whatever I have” type of sound that revolves around fuzzy, overdriven, and jagged tones, while their drums and bass rely more on sheer power than overproduction, and their vocals are genuine shouts and screams, not deep rehearsed grunts or effects-laden shrieks.
From start to finish this is an intense and energetic album that fuses filthy drunken rock with hardcore to create an incredible piece of music. Thanks to the production of Kurt Ballou, the whole thing is raw yet clear, chaotic, yet detailed, and simply a pleasure to listen to.
Erase All Name And Likeness plays like one giant chase scene from a horror movie. There are moments of absolute terror where the screams pour out and the music waltzes through tense and noisy dissonance, but then there are those moments when the killer has been averted for a short time and a false sense of calm sets in. Here the band is all heavy breathing, and darting eyes in search of an escape. The tempos may slow and the riffs become soothing, but you know the killer never stays down.
The album opens with “Kill The Head,” a screamy bombast that clocks in at under a minute and may take the award for the most raw and frenzied track on Erase. This leads directly into “And The Body Will Die,” a song that exhibits how Transistor Transistor can mesh together three seemingly simple riffs on the guitars and bass to form a complex new sound. The song moves back and forth between choppy notes with half-spoken rants and powerful chords overlaid with defiant screams. The song culminates in sliding guitars, cymbal crashes, and cries of “I was a ghost!”
From there, the band moves into their more garage rock-fueled side with “Black Cat” and “Power Chord Academy.” Again, the band knows how to mix melodic progressions and toned down vocal deliveries with explosive guitar assaults, thrashing drums, and feral screams. “Black Cat” recalls Hot Snakes’ more up-tempo songs during its verses, while “Power Chord Academy” features a Blood Brothers-like lyrical taunt of “Who lives past 30? I’ll tell you who: fools, scoundrels, hypocrites, and hip kids.”
The album finally gives the listener a chance to breathe with “Songsanstitle,” a plodding, guitar-whining track with haunting low vocals and minor key rock moments. But the moment of rest doesn’t last long as the end of the song brings back the screams.
On the second half of the album, Transistor Transistor continues to plow through song after song with a voracious need to rock. Songs like “Curse You All Kids” and “Straight To Hell” show off their hardcore side, while “Sweet William” and “Empathy” bring more of the dirty rock swagger. The album closes out with “A Sinking Ship Full Of Optimists,” a long and building track that starts with thumping, heavy rock before dropping into an echoing riff and reemerging as an all out crashing storm of noisy guitars, exploding cymbals, sludgy bass, and frantic shrieks. The song and album end with nothing more than a drumbeat, whose final thud is a simple declaration that the relentless assault is over and you can now safely exhale.