If you wondered whether a decade since their last release and the pandemic had defused or drawn the volcanic energy from Australian-bred and NYC-based punks The Death Set fear not. The band returns from a ten year absence with new album How To Tune A Parrot, a ferocious insurgence of sound and the band’s warped mischief which suggests they are hungrier and more manic than ever.
As fans know, punk rock barely covers the aggressive furore of The Death Set as their new incitement once more proves. At times the band gets under the skin as only the best old school punk rock does but simultaneously they can come over like the mutant sons of the Silicon Teens and Mad Capsule Markets over dosing on Red Bull or The Dickies turned psycho and chewing of the insanity of the Mindless Self Indulgence and the dispute of Black Flag. What you find though is a unique and insatiable onrush of sound and devilment which insists and proves How To Tune A Parrot one of the year’s classics as it makes you go crazy.
Formed by Johnny Siera and Beau Velasco, The Death Set evolving partly out of the latter’s previous band Black Panda, the band’s journey has been a litter of acclaimed voracious releases and a reckless live show which left venues and fans a shadow of their former selves. Tragedy with the death of Velasco from an overdose in 2009 overshadowed their success but could not derail the band though a hiatus would follow after their 2014 King Babies EP. Now with a line-up of Siera, guitarist Dan Walker who was first part of the band in its Gold Coast days and drummer Will Broussard, The Death Set is ready to take on the world once again and take it on a mercilessly riotous adventure.
How To Tune A Parrot instantly entangles the senses with opener Overload Damage, its electronic taunt swiftly a clamour of sonic and rhythmic uproar fuelled by Siera’s equally crazed vocals. It is a bedlam which only gets more rowdy and infectious, being simultaneously hypnotic in its throbbing hum and invasive in its virulence and cunning discord.
Slightly kinder in its entrance but soon proving even more vicious for the senses in its cacophonous ferociousness, Fall Down continues the explosively outstanding start to the release, the song an unforgiving tempest sharing the most rousingly infectious trespass before Bad Decisions turns its own devious antics upon the listener. With a Caped Crusader-esque groove from within the confines of Arkham Asylum, the track attacks and attacks, its feral catchiness as vicious as its punk bred dissonance and debilitating sonic clamour. Again vocals ride the tempest with a matching disorder in cajoling persuasion and lyrical provocation; that too bred in madness and insight.
Lead single Elephant is next and though maybe it is less intensive in ear blistering it still makes for one wild incursion of punk pop within a wakeup call for body and spirit. It is as poppy as you can get and as aberrant in that contagion while I’m Sick With It is a stinging that makes you want to cover your ears yet sees you only devouring more and more of its viral discord. In their off kilter way, every Death Set track is an anthemic incitement and maybe none as forceful and euphoric as here though success Oh My God is as adamant with in its own untamed catchiness, unbridled irritability, and antagonistic babel.
The dance-floor blazing Set For Death is a glorious disorder for movement and vocal chords, its electronics sinister and catchiness devious in a contagion you know is not good for you but oh so addictive while Best Kept Mess simply preys on the senses with punk belligerence and sonic tumult in another infection loaded incursion. The band’s catchiness as all aspects of their sound takes no prisoners, indeed here lays seeds of corrosion which subsequently eats at the brain leaving it and the senses fresh for Nowhere Is Here and its own noise pop driven by greedily welcomed contamination, gang vocal calls and mischievous theatre all part of its glory.
Through the sonic psychosis and intensity of Closed Eyes and the equally ruthless Mad World, a track featuring HO99O9, band and album continued their ravenous assault with Remind Me Who’s Suffering giving it a whole new guise and tempting with its calm yet ominous stroll. Melodically beguiling yet carrying a sonic edge of threat, the track makes for a riveting twist and compelling moment in the album’s imagination, its surf hued swing extra treat.
This Enemy Is My Best Friend completes the pleasure, it too maybe kinder in its involvement but no less rousing and ensnaring in its presence and character than the tempests of sound and intent before it, ensuring that How To Tune A Parrot left being as irresistible as it had been second by second since its first incursion.
Admittedly we still do not know how to adjust the bird but do know the best way to stomp around the world and it is with The Death Set in our ears.
How To Tune A Parrot is out now through Cobraside/Behemoth (US) and This Charming Man Records (EU) on vinyl, CD and digitally; available now @ https://thischarmingmanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/tcm-123-the-death-set-how-to-tune-a-parrot
Pete RingMaster 02/09/2021
Copyright RingMaster Review