Blitzkid - Five Cellars Below (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Five Cellars Below (2006)

Fiend Force

While there's nothing inherently wrong with being a horror-themed punk band, the genre certainly has its limits. For starters, no matter what you do or how you do it, you will always be compared to the Misfits. Even though the Damned and the Cramps broke ground years before, it was Glenn Danzig and co. that inspired a legion of copycats that continue to this day. Then, there's always the matter of stage appearance. You want to reflect the inner demon in you, but how do you do it? Dye your hair black? Maybe some eyeliner? Well, our subject, Blitzkid, certainly take it to an extreme, but who's to say there's anything goofy about that? Well, probably most people, but then again it's not like us punx get a free pass in that area either (though Blitzkid do unbecomingly resort to stage gags including spewing fake blood and horror movie props -- something that the poor street punx would scoff at).

There's also the nagging problem of what this genre really stands for. The obsession with blood, guts, and misery has rendered most of the dedication to social and political change of traditional punk almost non-existent in horror punk. The scene has produced an apathetic and indifferent attitude at best, and at worst has become a haven for following the center-right godfather, or even the fanatical right stepfather. And at a time when even George W. Bush is finding fanfare in the Satanist crowd, the prospect of being a horror punk band could not look less appealing. Of course, some have pulled it off quite masterfully. Possible routes to success include possessing outstanding musicianship (Tiger Army), fun, quirky gimmicks (Groovie Ghoulies), radio-friendly rock (AFI), or posing as horror-punk, but mostly still singing about girls (Alkaline Trio). Or you could simply apply your own versions of the Misfits formulas for success. This is what Blitzkid has chosen.

The first 18 words of Five Cellars Below -- and spanning into two songs -- are all the same word. "Hey!" Oh hi. How's it going? Besides the incomprehensible holler dotting the album opener "Black Mountain Backstep," the song does say one thing: Blitzkid's style of punk is good...quite good. In fact, if it weren't for the niche-seeking lyrics/themes and frequent dips into Misfits rips and humdrum rock'n'roll, Blitzkid could have a sizeable following based on their melodic hardcore stylings.

However, that's not to say that they don't cover the Misfits schtick with grace, and at times, near perfection like in the rockin', saxophone-aided "Starlite Decay" where the voice of Elvis Presley via Glenn Danzig is channeled through the soulful "whoa"s and pop melodies of the past.

The only problem is that the album hits its peak at the scorching, yet tender "The Trunk," before descending into 16 minutes of dragging through "Bloodletting," "Carve Out a Heart" and "Vanishing Riders." The middle of the album is so good, with catchy, melodic punk in "Midnight Mile," "Genus Unknown" and to a lesser extent, "Demon Machine," but the slow songs clumped at the end give the album a very un-climactic conclusion (that is, before the wonderfully punked up "Hidden Song" at the end).

Five Cellars Below is an ambitious and formidable effort from Blitzkid. The band's intentionally eclectic abilities are put to the test, and for the most part, the challenge is met in stride. However, the drive to separate from the pack and offer up a variety of tempos allows the slower, weaker side of Blitzkid to protrude amongst the healthy dosage of uptempo punk rock. Take away the tedious five-minute rock songs and this album is exceptional; as is though, Blitzkid will have to settle for a "pretty good" album, that remains slightly marred with bland rock filler.