REVIEW: DAVIE ALLAN / JOEL GRIND SPLIT CD/10" (RELAPSE, 2016)
I became a fan of surf music long before I got into metal, after hearing "Wipe Out" by the Surfaris as a kid. And I have always thought that there's a bit of a connection - instrumental surf music is mostly guitar-centric, often speedy, with the "ripping" qualities that I found I later also prized in metal. Still, it was a surprise to see that instrumental guitar slinger Davie Allan, famed for doing soundtracks with his band the Arrows for B-grade biker exploitation flicks back in the sixties (like The Wild Angels), now has a release out on extreme metal label Relapse! Even stranger, it's a split EP with the prolific Joel Grind, of one-man retro thrash outfit Toxic Holocaust. WTF??
Joel Grind seems like a cool guy and all; I've wanted to like his stuff, but Toxic Holocaust aways fell short for me, even though it for sure always looked the part. I will confess, however, to loving some tracks, especially "It's Fucking Happy Time," from the D-beat Street Rock n Rollers album by Tiger Junkies, Joel Grind's not-terribly-PC collaboration with the guy from Japanese sleaze thrashers Abigail. But anyway, what's Joel Grind doing on a split with Davie Allan? Well, guess what, he's ALSO playing surf music, and his tracks (they each do two instrumentals) are remarkably rad.
First up are Davie's cuts, both the sort of fuzzed-out rippers you'd expect from this past master of cycle-delic rockin', his guitar having plenty of vroom-vroom to it, while the beats are gonna get the beach-blanket go-go girls dancing. One of 'em has kind of got a rhythm reminiscent of "Please Don't Touch" (the '50s tune later popularized and metalized by Headgirl aka Motorhead & Girlschool), and the other is a perhaps a bit of a "Peter Gunn" variant, nothing wrong with that.
Then Joel Grind offers up two tracks of his own, and damn if he doesn't hang just fine with Allan, despite his relative inexperience in the surf genre. With rapid pulse and sinister vibe, you can hear how they're really sort of metal songs (listen close, is that a guitar effect or a blackened vokill grunt?), done surf-style, which works great, as I would have expected.
All in all, a pretty cool, unexpected blast of, uh, surf-sludge music? The biker/horror imagery (nice art direction here, btw) also helps to explain why this makes sense on Relapse. So, points for presentation, points for being a wonderfully WTF? pairing - and heck, this is probably the best thing I've heard from Joel Grind yet, wouldn't mind a whole album of him doing these sort of surf/biker instrumentals. (-Allan)