A Review of the album “Griffin and the Seventeen Mummies” by The Chomps

When Forkahalla, Montana’s The Chomps were still a two piece whirlwind of guitar distortion and drums they were frequently compared to the sonic thunder of My Best Death, the Providence, R.I. hardcore regulars. Now that they’ve expanded to a 3 piece, adding Robert Fargles Johnson on bass, they’ve shifted into more complex and lengthy time signatures, giving them an almost acid folk feel that’s surprisingly cogent.Before Fargles Johnson joined the group he was known mostly for playing in Back Beats Suck Your Mothers Teats, and was pegged as a sort of modern day Rip Van Winkle, sleeping his way through sets in the backrooms of Myatosa, Wisconsin. How he came to move out to Forkahalla is a sort of mystery, with a few details escaping, including that he briefly became a spiritual truck driver, preaching over the CB radio to legions of faithful almost pederasts while gaining several pants sizes. Whatever the journey, the outcome was his chance meeting with Melort Famine Darbender, the lead axe for The Chomps, in Forkahalla’s sole laundromat / library, the Clean Page. It’s not clear if Famine Darbender was as drunk as his usual self, or maybe just on a mushroom trip as he’d been rumored to have scored a couple days before. It is likely, however, given that the first interaction involved his screaming at the top of his lungs to watch out for the “Dragon Princess Sloth” apparently in reference to Fargles Johnson. Despite the aggressive first words, the two became fast friends over a liter of Mountain Dew and a load of laundry. Famine Darbender found that Fargles Johnson was in fact a serious metalhead, with the passion to back it up. They discussed ways to re-aggrandize the failing Forkahalla metal scene, first throwing out the possibility of wearing eyepatches on Tuesday mornings and refusing to eat with silverware, before settling on Fargles Johnson’s addition to The Chomps on bass.

The change was instantaneous, and shows here on their sophomore effort. Fargles Johnson embraces The Chomps destruction by desecration brand of metal, and adds his own furiously stilted bass ripples. At times you can picture him shoving Famine Darbender into the pool of fast and ever changing time signatures. Famine Darbender responds in kind by literally shredding his strings on this latest offering. To round out the effort Ballard Wormen furiously pounds on the drums with the kind of ferocious intensity usually reserved for bats escaping Arnold Palmer’s infamous napalm adventure into the salt caves of Georgia.

Given the current direction of the band, things look dark in a good way. The addition of Fargles Johnson clearly invigorated their bass, and if they can manage to keep the drug use under control there very well may be an intriguing third album on the way. 3.5 out of 5 Valhalla Death Metal Axes.

The pavement in your heart

“Rocksteady friend. The world is big, we are small, and this ship’s going down so be joyful.”A friend of mine posted a note on Facebook today. She wasn’t too specific (it is a public place after all) but she mentioned a few things that seem to be overwhelming her mind and heart. This got me to thinking that 2011 has been a strange year. Last year went out like a sack of dirt. So I was hoping this year was going to kick my face into happy smile land. But alas, no luck.

Anyway, the point is, to get ahead of all this nonsense: we are all screwed. The world is absolutely a mess. All of our hearts are going to be broken twice over, and maybe even covered in oil or nuclear particulate.

But so what? When has the human endeavor not been destined for terribleness? There’ve been good times, to be sure, but there have also been some tremendous mess ups.

In the last 3 years of my life, I have been out of a job, homeless (briefly), cheated on, messed over, married/now about to be divorced, my dad’s got Parkinson’s which is progressively sucking more every day, mom’s got cancer and after 4 years it’s winning, had to give up my dog, went through bankruptcy, had my car wheel stolen, and any number of other insults that I’m sure everyone has had to endure as well.

But, on the other side of the coin, I found a great job that lets me work at home, stopped driving and started biking everywhere, play in a great band with some badass dudes who are also good friends, met immeasurable numbers of people who’s hearts are so big I have no idea how they even fit in their chests,
stopped taking my life for granted, and started enjoying more moments than ever.

So, the thing I want to share is that we’re all screwed, to be sure. But we are all blessed as well. We can choose to pave our hearts over or we can choose to open them up to whatever may come. I’m no philosopher, that’s for sure. But if we cannot find joy in each moment how can we ever look at the world as anything other than a giant mess.