Covered in Bees - Portland Death Punk Vol. 1 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Covered in Bees

Portland Death Punk Vol. 1 (2005)

The Entertainment Experiment

Taking their biggest cues from `80s hardcore and horror punk -- of course, we're talking Misfits fans here -- Covered in Bees' debut album is a bit confusing at first, with vocals jumping between an over-done Danzig impression to throaty screaming, and silly song titles about monsters ("Zombees," "Swampman" and "Spiderlady") and love ("Portland Is for Lovers" and "Revolutionary Theories on the Geometry of Heartbreak"). Are they serious?

"Swampman," with an almost Minutemen feel in the verse music, has vocalist Boo telling a story of being struck down by the monster's mighty sword in a comically ghost story-type voice. "Portland Is for Lovers," if you ignore the vocals, sounds like a muddier Hives, just rock and roll with frequent drum breaks under the group screams. The vocals alternate from gruff to more melodic.

To clarify, Covered in Bees are not from Oregon, this is Portland, Maine we're talking about, a city that appears to have quite an incestuous scene. From what I can tell, every member in this band is also in at least one other band, with names like Pigboat, Confusatron, the Pontiffs, Eggbot, and No!. But Covered in Bees appears to have come out on top, taking the awards for "Best Punk Band" and "Best Live Act" in their hometown alternative paper's (The Providence Phoenix) Best Music Poll 2006.

The best thing about Covered in Bees is that they really do seem to be having fun, and it's an entertaining listen. I don't think they take themselves or their "horror" element all that seriously, and just have a good time with it. For example, the secret track (probably called "Bride of Swampman"), is a ballad complete with acoustic guitar and later, a cock-rock solo, with rhymes like "Need a rock, he'll be a pillar / don't forget he's a cold-blooded killer."

For a style of music that can be very constricting, Covered in Bees vary things nicely while still maintaining their identity, from the typical hard-and-fast double-time in "Drop in the Bucket" to the near metalcore of "Leather Gypsy," the `80s style pop-metal of "Spiderlady" to the swing beat and dynamic variation in "Skull and Crossroads," and their tendency to just go gritty rock and roll. I was turned off at first, but with the realization of fun and silliness, along with a little time, Covered in Bees won me over.