At times, Plague Soundscapes, the second full-length album from self-proclaimed “noise terrorists” the Locust and the band’s first since making a controversial move to independent giant Epitaph Records, sounds like a Buick being fed through a wood chipper; at others, more like ten thousand barnyard animals tumbling down a rocky mountainside. Or is a Colecovision being shoved into a garbage disposal more appropriate? Nevertheless, describing the Locust’s music is a hell of a lot more fun than actually listening to it.
Legions of pseudo-hipster indie kids swear by the Locust, perhaps because claiming to listen to the band’s music for recreation implies being musically evolved enough to “understand” something that all us stuffed-shirt fuddy-duddies just don’t get. I can appreciate spastic gobbledygook in the context in which it was created: “LA Blues,” the apocalyptic closing track on the Stooges’ Fun House, as the natural climax to an album of such unrelenting violence; or the short-lived no wave movement in early ’80s New York as a reaction against the corporate dilution of punk; or even Lou Reed’s hour-long feedback opus Metal Machine Music, widely considered the most unlistenable record ever issued by a major label.
My aversion to the Locust’s particular brand of gobbledygook doesn’t stem from the fact that it sounds like a tornado ripping through a slaughterhouse (that’s it!), but the sheer obviousness of it: the concept of mangling rock ‘n’ roll in the most perverse manner imaginable to save it from becoming trite and irrelevant is hardly original and has been put into practice with far more panache by bands less absorbed in their own self-righteousness.
Besides, it all becomes redundant rather quickly. After being pummeled with blast beats, barked vocals and Moog farts for two minutes (about four songs), Plague Soundscapes becomes just another background drone, as jarring as it is — sort of like how people living in war-ravaged countries eventually get used to the sound of bombs exploding around them. In the span of 21 minutes, the Locust make the same point 23 times; now it’s time to move on.