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(Thirsty Ear)

Anyone who has ever heard music touched by the hand of one J.G. Thirwell already knows this, but he pretty much destroys any band who thinks they have angst today and has been doing so for the past 20 years. Screw Nu Metal and all of these Limp Bisquick clones hitting the markets today, because Thirwell could take them out with one sonic blast and lyrics spit out with a true vitrol. He's literally a one man wrecking crew, and he's not only been creating brutal music as Foetus, but has done remixes for the likes of everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Front 242.

Granted, the musical vision of Foetus really hasn't changed a whole lot in that time, but he has gotten much more refined, and the years taken off between his last effort (the so-so Gash) and Flow have definitely paid off. He's expanded his musical palette even more (even if it is only slightly) and there are at least a couple tracks on the release that stand among the best things that he's ever done. If he's changed a slight bit musically, lyrically he has the same caustic bite as ever. Thirwell slings together word cliche's like they're going out of style, but somehow works them into tracks in his own demented stew of sex, drugs and rock and fucking roll.

Of course, saying that Foetus is rock and roll is also a bit of a misnomer. It's more like industrial music that rocks and rolls and is injected at times with the swagger of a psychotic big band. "Quick Fix" opens things up just as you might expect, with rumbling looped drums that progressively build louder and guitars that absolutely explode after the first verse. It's grinding and loud and just in case you were wondering if anyone still made gritty industrial music anymore, it answers your question rather quickly. Of course, Thirwell is also about confounding, and the second track "Cirrhosis Of The Heart" does just that. With parts that sound like cheesy lounge, and goofy big-band outbursts that sound like they came from an over-the-top Looney Tunes cartoon, it's a bit of a changeup (although there's enough of an edge in the guitars included to still remind you who put the track together).

"Mandelay" is the first dirge of the album (clocking in at over 8 minutes), and it may test your patience, but nice additions like middle-eastern samples help it out a bit. "Grace Of God" is another wack big-band sounding track while "The Need Machine" roars so quickly that it sounds like it's going to go flying off the tracks at several points and he creates the industrial-strength spy theme with "Suspect." One of the best tracks on the entire album, though, is the completely crazy "Heuldoch 7B." Mixing horns and loud percussion into a blasting, catchy mess, it's a hard swing track that instead burns cheap zoot suits to a crisp, fills the dancefloor with blood, and makes you blush when you realize the lyrics you're singing along with.

The album closes out in industrial mode, with three crashing tracks, including the final, 13-minute "Kreibabe." The track takes it's time in getting there, but eventually turns in bowel-churning crescendos offset with quiet, twisted funhouse breaks. Like a couple other tracks, it rambles on a bit too long, but the sonic payouts are big if you can stand being dragged through the sludge. Basically, if you haven't liked Foetus before, you're probably not going to start now. It's some noisy stuff, but damned if some catchy little melodies don't seep in through the cracks. It's a solid return to form after an almost 6 year break between albums.

Rating: 7