Spencer Moody is tattoogenic. Or so one of my friends says, as she was told the tale of a rabid Murder City Devils fan who had an image of the bespectacled singer inked onto his forearm, in a field of playing cards. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, considering Moody isn’t Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne or Axl Rose. But he may be on his way to becoming an official God of Thunder. The Devils, of course, sounded a lot like Danzig at times. And his new outfit, Smoke and Smoke, is even more loud and menacing. And as he shouts in the second track of their debut, Love Suffers Long, “Smoke and Smoke don’t give a fuck.”
Picking up right where Dead Low Tide, Moody’s previous, short-lived band, left off, Smoke and Smoke features the efforts of Godheadsilo’s Mike Kunka and Dan Haugh on bass and drums, respectively. Far less straightforward than the Devils, though not as spacey as Godheadsilo, Smoke and Smoke seems to meet somewhere in between, mixing the full-frontal bass madness with Moody’s erratic howling. In 19 minutes, Love Suffers Long blows by at a blistering pace, but each individual track reveals its own treats when given the proper attention.
“Into the Smoke and Smoke” is so heavy, it’s nearly death metal, as is “Abandon Ship,” with Melvins-like riffs played on a lone four-stringer. “Bathrobe Jacket” is more dynamic, beginning with slow, ambient riffs before divulging into hardcore. “Boys, Books, and Kitty Cats” sees Kunka experimenting with a strange, wah-wah like effect, turning the song into a more playful version of Smoke and Smoke thrash. And album closer “Smoke and Smoke Against the Machine” is the closest the band comes to a pop song, even resorting to a verse-chorus-verse structure, which is absent from most of the other tracks.
Moody shouts at about the same level throughout the entire course of the album. It’s a wonder his vocal chords don’t give out, but it does intensify the material greatly. His one-liners are pretty hard to beat, too: “The bar was already on fire when the lightning struck,” “love is a life boat with a hole in it.” Moody may sound absolutely insane, but there’s a method to his madness, and a damn good one at that.
Smoke and Smoke are so insane that 19 minutes is probably plenty for most people. It’s a fine length for being introduced to this band, though to really do them justice, they have to be seen live. It’s an experience so gut-wrenching, it might compel you to get a tattoo of the bearded vocalist. Well, maybe not. But you’ll be convinced of his Thunder God status when you witness him destroying Valhalla.
Lightning Bolt – Wonderful Rainbow
Godheadsilo – Elephantitus of the Night
Jesus Lizard – Goat
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.