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Heathen Shame - Speed the Parting Guest

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Artist: Heathen Shame

Album: Speed the Parting Guest

Label: Twisted Village

Review date: Aug. 11, 2005

If you've been finding yourself searching desperately for some heroic guitarists to worship from the sanctity of your home stereo, I'd like to suggest Wayne Rogers and Kate Village. These two have been around for years now, first gaining acclaim as part of the band Magic Hour (which featured Damon & Naomi as their rhythm section). Recently, they've supplied listeners with a series of great records as the leaders of Major Stars (whose most recent effort, 4, is a scorching display of six-string pyrotechnics), and also find time to run the much loved Twisted Village record shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an outlet regarded highly among both record collectors and civilian music fans alike.

Heathen Shame is another project from Rogers and Village, a trio fleshed out by the addition of nmperign’s Greg Kelley on trumpet. At first glance, it may seem like a departure from the duo’s more overtly rock dynamics, but strip away the layers of blistering drone and feedback, and you got a batch of music that’s firmly rooted in the same scorching aesthetic. Live performances from these three more or less confirm this notion. Take, for example, their set at this year's No Fun Festival. While sonically they fit perfectly with the varied extremities of performance on display that weekend, watching Wayne flop and roll around on stage while assaulting his guitar as Greg kept yelling at the crowd basically confirmed the fact that no matter how it ends up sounding, these cats are rockers of the highest order. And that's not even remotely a bad thing.

If you were to strip away the rhythm sections in the Major Stars' work and detonate the solos so that the charred wreckage splattered all over the speakers, then you'd come close to the three tracks on Speed the Parting Guest. The title track kicks off the first half-hour of this record, all red-zone drone and white hot feedback that manages to be as propulsive as it is pounding, showcasing an attack that reduces rock music to its most basic primal element. In terms of volume and overall aesthetic, it's definitely not for everyone, but crank the volume as loud as it can go and you'll wish you could shred with such reckless abandon, or pulverize a trumpet with the same ferocity that Kelley seems to easily muster. Riffs occasionally emerge from the murk, only to disappear again and again under the swirling swaths of chaos. The record's other two tracks basically stomp the same ground, with "Iron Turtleneck" sounding maybe a bit like the Groundhogs' Tony McPhee on a particularly violent and abstract day battling with Kelley's siren calls. The closing "The So-Called 'Arts'" finds a rhythmic lurch with the addition of Rogers on drums as well, ultimately sounding like the long-lost rehearsal tapes of any number of great late ’60s/early ’70s guitar jammers.

By Michael Crumsho

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