Noisy Milquetoast salt wounds, unleash unkempt metallic punk with rowdy puncher ‘Caterwaul’

Photo by Rich Barker (richbarker.com)

I feel like we run a pretty vast shop here, traveling outside metal’s realms whenever we feel like it and covering as much of the metal spectrum possible, as long as there are no pig squeal vocals. I get people like that shit, but I can’t do it. Sorry. Anyway, we don’t get to punk and hardcore records all that often for reasons, but when we dig into something we really like, we will roll in it with enthusiasm.

That day is here with the arrival of “Caterwaul,” the new one from Indiana punk crushers Milquetoast, and fuck if this isn’t a great time. The fact they align with my politics in a much funnier way than I ever have is a big plus, and their music is rowdy, metallic, and a good time in that way where you know you’d had too much and you’re wobbling dangerously, but you work hard. Who are we really hurting anyway? Anyway, over 10 blistering tracks, the band—guitarist/vocalist Ty Winslow, bassist/vocalist Andy Bowerman, drummer Nick James—threatens you with a stoning death, makes fun of Trump’s stupid wall, gets excited about space, and even embraces the dummies who are fooled by actual fake news. These boys warm my heart, and this record provides violent fun while I’m encased in ice.

“Intro” is here to get things stirring, preparing you for what’s ahead, and that’s headlong into “Dead Inside” that immediately delivers a heavy punk vibe. The track is fast and punchy with shouts of, “You’re dead inside!” over the chorus, flattering you with its mangling end, and then it’s on to “Recognize” that opens with psyche-washed guitars. Riffs jar as the wail of, “Recognition goes a long way,” registers, and noisy, yet catchy playing melts you and deposits you into mud and fuzz. The drums rip alone for a stretch, and then speed ignites as the track punches its way out. “Matapacos” has a dingy basement charm to it as it lights up fast and catchy with a fun chorus. The leads are dirty, a strange edge chills your flesh, and the final blows knock you out. “Stoner Safari” is a fun one that’s plying you with two messages. Thick bass and thrashy playing take center stage as you’re taunted with, “So you want to get stoned? Today’s your lucky day!” They’re not plying you with marijuanas. You’re literally going to die as they keep piling on the threats, giving off a scathing, powerful final gust.

“Step Off” enters with an unexpected bluesy riff and then things tangle, adding attitude and some scorching guitar work to boot. The bass drives as the intensity increases, ending in unruly screams and overall chaos. “Space Force” is a good time and reminds me of something the Coke Dares would have attempted. They build this thing on surf guitars and repeated shouts of, “Space force!” melting into cosmic hell and some good-natured nonsense. One of them howls, “I don’t want to go to Mars!” as the track comes to a rousing finish. “Fake News Blues” won’t make your stupid COVID-denying uncle happy, and good because he’s probably an asshole. “Everything I disagree with is fake news!” is wailed as the band revels in making fun of this lot, jamming their punk-powered assault that reeks of Black Flag as they vow to “form their own bias” from the shitty information clogging people’s brains. “Wall” has more pointed jabs at the Trump crowd that are both hilarious and pissed off, though a late shout of, “I don’t want to eat no motherfucking Applebee’s quesadilla,” sure turns things in a wacky direction. Fuck, dude. Same. “Forgotten Death” ends the record with warbling and wrecking, adding slurry riffs and powerful leads. Noisy fury erupts as the energy buckles, and the final moments ring out in your ears, putting you down after the ample bruising you sustained.

Milquetoast come off as a band that takes their music seriously but not necessarily themselves, which is one of the things that makes “Caterwaul” so refreshing. Even when they’re jabbing at people’s beliefs, you’d have to be a humorless asshole not to at least smirk at it. Otherwise, this album is a blast to hear, likely will be even more alluring if you’re drunk, and has cover art that assuredly will clash will all the other heavy releases, which is another benefit for the band and this turbulent and catchy record.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/milquetoastpunk

To buy the album, go here: https://milquetoastpunk.bandcamp.com/album/caterwaul

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wisebloodrecs

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