That’s one attention catching album cover and although I recognised the photo I wasn’t entirely sure about the story behind it and had to go searching. At first I was convinced it was some sort of satanic crime being represented and as Formalist are from Italy went delving into the Beasts Of Satan, thinking myself clever and drawing blanks. Long story short, eventually found my answer in the form of Brenda Spencer from Cleveland USA who back in 1979 shot up her school killing 2 and injuring 8. Chances are even if you don’t remember the event you will know the song it inspired as when questioned on her motifs Brenda stated that she didn’t like Monday’s, cue lining Bob Geldof’s pocket very nicely. For the record, apparently she is still in prison today. Considering all this it comes as no surprise that Formalist want to make you very miserable with their music. I doubt they like Monday’s or any other day of the week but thankfully they are not here to make us suffer with any goddamn Boomtown Rats cover songs.
Lead singer Ferdinando Marchisio should need no introduction being the miserable misanthrope behind Forgotten Tomb and here he has joined up with members of other acts such as Malasangre and Viscera/// as well as his other group Tombstone Cowboy to deliver three tracks of harrowing discontent and distortion. Opening fire-starter ‘Arson’ could be their version of Big Black classic Kerosene, on the radar again due to a dire recent cover by Burn The Priest. The world burns with a thundering contusion of bruising sludge and an alienated roar as everything instantly snarls into hateful life. Obviously it isn’t pretty and the wolverine howls from the vocals say it all. There’s suddenly a gorgeous acoustic melody and a feeling of calm amidst the turmoil and one gets the feel of schizophrenia as matches are grasped in shaking hands and one is struck. “I wish you’re dropping dead now, loathe you and your kind” is the message and its noted loud and clear. Trembling doomy lurches and that underlying melody combine in a way one may find in early Today Is The Day and the effect is one of pure nihilism. It took one play and I was hooked, this is definitely my sort of musical torment but obviously it ain’t for everyone. There’s a similar vibe and hate here as in the likes of Iron Monkey as the band wring out their instruments and the vocalist howls. They would have been the perfect support band for the recent shows and if they ever get it together to play more…
‘Foul’ is the centrepiece here at a torturous near 17 minute length. There’s a trembling mesmerism about the music once it takes proper form and some ranting lower down the mix from the vocals which actually remind here a bit of Andi Sex Gang. There’s some sort of radio transmission chattering away, a humungous long tone and the howl of wind. You get the feeling that something major resulting in a lot of casualties is going down. Lyrics talk of shades of red, visions of death and nothing shining any more. We appear to have the soundtrack to a faces of death mondo movie here! The interludes are effective and add to the bleak atmosphere, they may come as a relief from the haranguing vocals but get completely under the skin and don’t actually offer much of a respite. With the album title being joyously hollered out the death king is totally residing over his kingdom, content with his lot and the suffering and misery going on around him. When everything turns to shit, society is a cancer and you are living on a shoestring you may as well give up and hang around waiting to be ‘Mainlined’ that’s the message on the last number and again it is both ugly and beautiful in musical representation. I get images of the film Combat Shock (1984) by Buddy Giovinazzo going round in my head listening to this and musically there is something cathartic about listening to this similar to watching that particular film. I guess if you want a fix akin to using a rusty coat-hanger to bore a hole in your diseased arms and pour your smack into this is going to appeal. If not move on to safer places; all that’s missing here is a certain Walker Brothers cover
(8/10 Pete Woods)