Cherubs - Heroin Man (Cover Artwork)


Heroin Man (1994)

Trance Syndicate

If punk rock sounds like a fight, and if many noise rock bands sound like a barrage of gunfire, then Cherubs sound like a blitzkrieg bombing in the heart of downtown; either way it will make you so scared you may shit yourself. As Heroin Man is noise rock in its purest form of sludge. there is no differing between the guitar and bass -- they are simply meshed together in one turbulent orgy of thumping noise. The vocals by drummer/vocalist Kevin Whitney are screamed so loud, it seems as if the singer is about to burst some blood vessels in the manner of the film "Scanners," yet you won't be able to make out anything louder than syllables rising from this floodgate of storm-like dissonance.

This album, like their other few, was released on the Trance Syndicate label that Jeffrey Koffey ran. Koffey is better known as King Koffey, and is the drummer of the LSD-inspired noise rockers, the Butthole Surfers. While that band may sound like an acid-tripout, a listen to Cherubs is like an LSD-laced nightmare, going straight down to hell…and back! Like most noise rock acts it takes patience to get into, as at first it seems nothing more than a group of guys bashing the hell out of their instruments. Sometimes, a noise band may do this and the music may sound directionless, but other times the music has all the trappings of what may make an act mainstream. In other words, it has hooks and melody, but in a noise rock record, it is much harder to find.

Be warned, though -- this band is anything but "mainstream," and the hooks may be here, but aren‘t from the happy world of bunnies so-to-speak. As mentioned before, Cherubs play their instruments as if they are in the film "Speed" and cannot go slower than oh-so-fucking-fast. Songs like demonic opener "Stag Party" and the cryptic "Dave of the Moon" are held together with Whitney's voice that has both a vocal hook to it, much like the grunge rockers of the time period, yet at the same time, it also sounds slightly less nasal, and with a bigger helping of fury, spit and howl.

Heroin Man is about a friend who had OD'd, and the first half of the album is akin to acid being swigged around in your throat with songs like the snarling, frothy and venomous "Animator." Others, like "Coonass," are akin to your psyche circling around the drain when knowing it's time for the Grim Reaper to collect your bill. While "Coonass" is a sprawling inferno of infinite night terrors, "Mr. Goy" and "Black House" is the stuff of LSD-ridden fever dreams. Lastly, the different-sounding "Baby Huey" sounds so odd it can only be described as, "Kooky, much like Ted Bundy eating an Eskimo pie outside your window." Story of my life, by the way.

However, the second half of the album happens to sound like the most yawn-ridden of noise rock, when it does in fact sound like directionless and loud horseshit. "Cockpit -- Kiss the Shine" does not have much to offer, and the last two songs on the album, "Playdough" and "Example Maiden Japan / Devil's Food," are bad experiments, but since they come last, they can be easily skipped over.

Yet, you will not want to subvert the devil's urge to check out this album, as Heroin Man is a mind-altering, strange trip that's as eye-opening as an elevator ride down into the netherworld.