From debut splatter platter, ‘Hotwaterburnbaby’, via the putrid poetry of follow-up, ‘Eeeeeeeeep!!!’, to the 2-4-5 Trioxin-addled new album, ‘The Dwellers Below’, the Saint Paul, Minnesota ghouls Mommy Sez No have traversed the gutters and gateways of the punk rock underground for so long that you’d probably be excused for thinking that this was a band destined to be stumbled across when lovingly fingering your wholly unfashionable physical media collection; the cobwebs blown from a disc or two decaying in the creepy corner labelled ‘Where Are They Now?’ But, no – this six-legged monstrosity (Jeff Arndt on guitar and vocals; Alex Smith on drums; Thomas White on bass) is back in the hunt; better, stronger, faster than it was before.
Okay, the enhancement might not be bionic, but it’s by some other ungodly advancement that finds the horror punk veterans kicking lumps out of the opposition with a thirteen-track (what else?!) long player that, actually, doesn’t play for that long given its frenetic pace, but oozes with a gooey, unexpected slap of, dare I say it, maturity.
Looking cooler-than-thou wearing its wraparound artwork skin courtesy of fellow Minnesota mayhem maker, artist Bill Hauser (creator of many a striking punk rock album cover), ‘The Dwellers Below’ takes the lowbrow splatter punk of Mommy Sez No out of the garage and into, well, at least the garage forecourt. With better production, better artwork, better just about everything to be honest, this is the band’s most accomplished work to date… but fear not horror punk purists, this record is still a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
From opening cut, ‘Take Me To The Hospital’, to the power ballad, ‘Maggots In Yer Guts’, via the chaos of ‘Hahahahahahaha’, Mommy Sez No is still as subtle as a killing spree and as manic as a final girl chase scene. The big difference is that the band doesn’t stumble at all throughout the entirety of this album.
Even when introducing more straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll strut to the tracklisting with the likes of ‘Lil Bit Of Voodoo’, ‘Rock And Roll Death Patrol’ and the alternate reality KISS riff-led ‘Uh Oh… I Think…’ the band still has that unnerving way of making the listener feel like they need a good wash after partaking in an auditory exercise; the songs to die for (possibly literally) rather than a diversion.
The aforementioned artwork may give off a sense of the post-apocalyptic (doesn’t everything these days?!) but the album still has a hoof or two in the band’s tried, tested, and tortured peculiar amalgam of straight-to-video horror and no-budget punk rock… except there is a budget these days, but that shouldn’t put you off; think the upgrade from The Evil Dead to Dead By Dawn – better everything, but with that same, fierce independent spirit. ‘The Dwellers Below’ is a crazed, ass-kicker of an album that will easily force its way into my Top Ten albums list of a crazy, asshole of a year. Recommended.
Buy the album Here