Review by Jessi Roti – @JessiTaylorRO
Artist: The Joy Kills
Album: Noise + Cigarettes
What does "punk" sound like in 2015? Some argue it isn't so much a specific sound as it is a state of mind or an attitude towards the wasteland that is mainstream music. A snot-nosed, I-don't-give-a-fuck-persona aside, the rush of the thrash has been sorely missed. But real punk, the no-holds-barred few who still don't mind a punch in the circle-pit, is always bubbling up from the underground.
Case in point, Atlanta-based band, The Joy Kills, and their latest EP, Noise + Cigarettes. Where there's smoke doesn't always mean there's fire, but there's fuel being heaped on to the flames here. Opening track "Might as Well" is a furious race to the finish line between slaying guitar thrash and stick-breaking drumming. The muffled drone of the vocals has a Misfits-esque creep factor to it, but packs a heavier punch.
Each track flows seamlessly into the next, like an elongated temper-tantrum. "Customs" unfolds like the most melodic, temper-tantrum at that. What's interesting about The Joy Kills is the perversion of punk at its purest form and nu-metal. The songs, "QLA" in particular, are enticing if not a bit scary. It's as if Tool was chosen to soundtrack an S&M mistress's dungeon.
That dance between a slightly more doom-and-gloom Danzig or TSOL and a largely fist-pumping, foot-stomping Black Flag show promise that The Joy Kills know what they're doing and have enough knowledge of punk history to be truly authentic. The blend of the anthemic (a memorable "no means no" chant erupts on "Johnny Straightedge") and the aggressive is familiar without coming-off contrived.
Noise + Cigarettes' live closer, "Wedding Bells" (originally featured on the band's Everybody EP) is the only attempt at universal likability. It's disguised as a love song, drenched in cynicism, then lightly dipped in doo-wop. But who said punks can't be charming?