The very instant that you press play on the new LaFaro album Easy Meat, you know exactly what you are going to get, as an unhinged clatter of drums tumble frantically out of your speakers. On Easy Meat, you will not find anything that you could describe as 'placid' or 'soothing'. This album is less a calm blue ocean, and more a flaming chasm in the deepest depths of hell. That is not a criticism by any stretch of the imagination: sometimes you need an album that is going to kick your ass mercilessly around the room.
The album is full of wrecking ball punk-metal assaults like Full Tilt, Sucking Diesel and Slide On. These songs are relentless blasts of fury taking cues from everything from Refused, to Black Flag and to Therapy? - another twisted punk-metal band from Ireland. These songs are truly punishing, and would probably start riots if you played them loud enough. There is no respite here.
Elsewhere on the album, there are more refined songs such as the excellent Settle Petal and Have a Word With Yourself. These songs see the pace drop a little, and in place of the endless, sheer, bloody fury, we see a darker, more twisted side of LaFaro. With thanks to the drop in tempo, these tracks - especially Settle Petal - become more identifiable than the blood and thunder punk songs, and actually have hooks in them. The albums final track - Maudlin - does exactly as it says on the tin. This song is a very subtle acoustic song, almost a ballad, and it is brilliant, if a little unnerving, to hear LaFaro tackling something like it. It seems that just when you have the measure of LaFaro, they gleefully flip your idea over on its head and kick seven bells out of it.
The only drawback with Easy Meat is the ridiculous amount of daft interludes between the songs. Sure, it probably is necessary to break up the hardcore assault occasionally, but just imagine how recklessly powerful the album would be if it was just tune after tune with no breaks in between!
In short, LaFaro are a terribly imaginative bunch, crafting twisted, dark, sludgy and heavy rock tunes like just about nobody else out there. You will probably either love them or hate them, but there is no question that Easy Meat shows that LaFaro really mean it. Ignore them at your peril.