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Teenage Time Killers – Greatest Hits Vol. 1

album by:
Teenage Time Killers

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On July 27, 2015
Last modified:July 27, 2015

Summary:

An all-star cast convenes as Teenage Time Killers to create some underground-styled hardcore punk on Greatest Hits Vol. 1, a 20 song ode to youthful angst and protest.

Teenage Time Killers - Greatest Hits Vol. 1 - album cover art

Corrosion of Conformity‘s Reed Mullin and My Ruin‘s Mick Murphy decided, along with Jon Lousteau as producer, to create a star-studded, ever-changing group of guests that would convene, as Teenage Time Killers, and create an album. Given the celebrity status for about half of the guests, at first glance this looks like it’s going to be a polished, knock-your-socks-off, hard rock affair. That is very far from the case. Greatest Hits Vol. 1 sounds more like a garage punk band mix tape, capturing raw energy, simpler song structures, a new or unsettled track sequence, and that nebulous thumb-in-your-eye attitude that only accompanies punk rock sung with conviction.

20 songs present a nice variety of fascinating subgenre sounds, from the richly melodic, almost pop-punk overtones in “Barrio” to the sludgy, doomy stoner rock feel in “Crowned by the Light of the Sun”.

What would punk in any flavor be without some sociopolitical critique? It’s not authentic without some lyrical bite. Everything from lyrics like “life is a commodity” to the entirety of “Barrio” and “Egobomb” remind listeners why this genre exists in the first place: to be a gigantic weeping thorn in the side of a contemporary, fashionable, affluent society which ignores the plight of the world’s downtrodden. Instrumentally, there’s not much to say in detail. Greatest Hits Vol. 1 is faster, uptempo music with lyrics, meant to be conceived, recorded, and played back simply. There are no jazz fills, complicated solos, or truly out-there tempos and arrangements. It’s not meant for an over-thinking listener: it’s immersive and experiential, meant to get you moving. It’s intense, gripping, and fun, like it’s long-lost cousin, earlier thrash metal.

The instrumental parts of Greatest Hits Vol. 1 were recorded at Studio 606 on an analog desk. The vocals were apparently added later. This shows quite obviously when played back on an average ambient listening system: some tracks have vocals much louder then both the instrumental part of the track, and the surrounding songs. Some of the guitar solos sound like overdubs or punch-ins, in that, like the vocal tracks, they are much louder then the surrounding music. Drums tend to sit back in the mix, and can be a little muffled at times. While the bass guitar is readily audible in most tracks, there are cases where the song still lacks a low end punch. None of those issues would be expected with this caliber of experienced guests or top tier recording equipment, so it must be deliberate. Teenage Time Killers and Lousteau seem to be aiming to re-create the listening experience a fan of against-the-grain underground punk had back when the genre was fairly new. It’s left unpolished, like the rough part of town. Listening to the album on average quality earbuds at a higher volume mitigates most of those issues, but that’s a rueful thought – to get the best effect, you have to use lowest common denominator equipment. Sequencing is pleasant but a little strange, which gives it more ‘mix tape’ appeal.

The per-track revolving door of musicians in Teenage Time Killers creates enough disunity to make the songs sound like they are almost by different bands. A vocal level issue present throughout the album furthers that effect, leading someone without the benefits of a tracklist and list of musicians to think this album is perhaps some underground four-way split. Because the songs sound like they are each created, and added to disc, separately, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 lacks the cohesion that many would expect from a group of people with several hundred years of music industry experience between them. It’s an album of showcase singles, each meant to stand on it’s own merit. Fans of certain guests are free to cherry pick the singles they’d like to hear, and for the most part, that won’t cause much of a ripple in their overall listening experience.

A version of John Cleese‘s poem “Ode to Hannity” is the most spoken-word of the songs on Greatest Hits Vol. 1, being composed of static-laced radio and television samples. Sounding like an old punk intro, it revives memories of that era and that lifestyle. Over half of the song is ‘sampled’; the remainder is a short nod to old-school hardcore punk. For those into thrash and the crossover between metal and punk, “The Dead Hand” is a neck-snapper; it’s a ferocious romp through metal’s staccato, rhythmic territory. “Clawhoof” offers more thrashy goodness. Modern metal with a heavy infusion from a speed / thrash hybrid makes an appearance during “Hung Out to Dry”. “Ignorant People” doles out a measured dose of hardcore punk styling. Heavy on bass guitar and distortion, the tune encapsulates a lot of what the band seems to be “about”. As Teenage Time Killers takes its name from a Rudimentary Peni song, it’s fitting that the album’s closing tune, “Teenage Time Killer”, is a cover of that song. A deliberately off-key, ribald rendition, using a bastardized melody permeates through what sounds like a sweaty dive bar with this band playing. Rough and anarchic, the tune captures some of the essence that many of these musicians lived through in decades past.

Greatest Hits Vol. 1 seems to have been created by Teenage Time Killers simply to show that not only is punk not dead, it’s coming back, and in a big way. The album’s humorous, mildly flippant title both critiques and alludes to that. Or, it might be an existential blip: it came into being ‘just because’. Punk was, and remains, good at that: creating music that the musicians and their hardcore fans want to hear, for no other reason then simply to create. And that is fantastic.

Official Band Facebook Page

Track and Guest List:

“Exploder”
Vocals: Reed Mullin
Featuring Pat Hoed (Bass), London May (Drums)

“Crowned by the Light of the Sun”
Vocals: Neil Fallon
Featuring Jim Rota (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Hung Out to Dry”
Vocals: Randy Blythe
Featuring Mike Schaefer (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Power Outage”
Vocals: Clifford Dinsmore
Featuring Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Ode to Hannity”
Vocals: Jello Biafra
Featuring Mike Dean (Bass)

“Barrio”
Vocals: Matt Skiba
Featuring Brian Baker (Guitar)

“The Dead Hand”
Vocals: Reed Mullin
Featuring Woody Weatherman (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Egobomb”
Vocals: Corey Taylor
Featuring Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Plank Walk”
Vocals: Pete Stahl
Featuring Greg Anderson (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Time to Die”
Vocals: Mike IX Williams
Featuring Greg Anderson (Guitar)

“Days of Degradation”
Vocals: Tommy Victor
Featuring Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Clawhoof”
Vocals: Tairrie B. Murphy
Featuring Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Big Money”
Vocals: Lee Ving
Featuring Pat Smear (Guitar & Bass), London May (Drums)

“Devil in this House”
Vocals: Karl Agell
Featuring Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Say Goodnight to the Acolyte”
Vocals: Phil Rind
Featuring Jason Browning (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Ignorant People”
Vocals: Tony Foresta
Featuring Greg Anderson (Guitar), Nick Oliveri (Bass)

“Son of an Immigrant”
Vocals: Johnny Weber
Featuring Brian Baker (Guitar)

“Your Empty Soul”
Vocals: Aaron Beam

“Bleeding to Death”
Vocals: Vic Bondi
Featuring Dave Grohl (Bass)

“Teenage Time Killer”
Vocals: Trenton Rogers
Featuring Greg Anderson (Guitar), Pat Hoed (Bass)

An all-star cast convenes as Teenage Time Killers to create some underground-styled hardcore punk on Greatest Hits Vol. 1, a 20 song ode to youthful angst and protest.

About Iris North

My formal position is: editor and music reviewer. I joined the PlanetMosh army in 2012. I enjoy extreme metal, 'shred' guitar, hard rock, prog rock, punk, and... silly pop music!
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