Direct Hit!, a punk band from Milwaukee, released Brainless God in September of 2013. Why would anyone in his or her right mind review a CD thee plus years later? My answer: because I suck. I broke the 40 year old barrier, I have a wife and two kids, and I now have about 1/50th of the time to spend on music that I used to have back in my heyday. Unfortunately for me, Direct Hit! did not get onto my music radar until recently but since the band entered my awareness, I can’t get enough of them, especially this CD.
Brainless God is a concept album released on Red Scare Industries. In an interview with Dan Ozzi for Noisey, guitarist and vocalist Nick Woods summed up the record succinctly. He said, “It’s about how love, the apocalypse, a serial killer, and a suicide cult help this battered woman find herself.” Clearly, this story line is not typical lyrical fodder and that alone should be enough to catch your attention. However, for those of you visually inclined, the band also created a mini-movie and additional chapter by chapter videos to accompany each song on this CD. The gory action of the film ties together the story line and brings the listener/viewer face to face with the Stephen King-esque horror as it unfolds.
The 12 songs on Brainless God are all extremely well written. Although each track has its own unique modus operandi, there is an over-arching sound and style that ties this package of tracks into a unified presentation. The opener, On & On, begins as a piano driven dirge which quickly morphs into a street punk sing along. This is followed by The World Is Ending (No One Cares) which contains a melodic hook that is as good as anything Green Day has ever crafted. Track three (Buried Alive) is the most pop-punk sounding track on Brainless God. However, unlike most pop punk which deals with love, girls, or a broken heart, Buried Alive focuses on a male serial killer who is in the process of abducting a female to replace the rotting carcass that currently resides in his basement. This eclectic approach continues throughout the entirety of the album and never lets up. Although the entire album has no filler, there are two tracks that I can’t get my fill of no matter how many times I play them; White Robes and Bank of Elevators. White Robes has a funky synth running through the background of the verse, unique drum work, and an extremely catchy chorus. Bank of Elevators has a chorus reminiscent of Rocky Horror’s ‘Time Warp’ but veers into much darker territory than the campy dance routine of “It’s just a step to the left.”
As far as concept records go, Brainless God is on par with Green Day’s American Idiot and NOFX’s The Decline. Unlike Green Day and NOFX, whose rock operas focused on slice of life issues and political discord, Direct Hit! creates an apocalyptic nightmare that follows a story line and characters that are anything but slice of life. Direct Hit! have fashioned a masterpiece by crafting a unique story and backing it up with some of the best punk rock songwriting and musical execution in recent memory. Brainless God needs to be a part of any punk rock fan’s music collection.
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