Icons Of Filth

Their singer recently passed away, so remember what the Bible says about worshipping filthy icons
*special introductory paragraph!
*Used, Abused, Unamused EP
*Onward Christian Soldiers
*Braindeath EP
*The Filth And The Fury EP
*The Mortarhate Projects

As the self-proclaimed "Dave Barry of professional rock critique," it can be difficult sometimes to step off my humorous horse of hilarity (which I ride into town on a saddle of laughter) and address a serious topic like deadness. But what happened on Saturday, October 23rd, 2004 was such a horrific affront to life, punk rock and the idea of free will that I must somehow find the urge to do so. Vocalist Andrew "Stiggy Smeg" Sewell died of a heart attack following a performance by his long-running (and legendary in some circles) punk rock band Icons Of Filth. He wasn't on heroin or pot; he wasn't even doing methamphetamine like most of us. His heart simply gave out from kicking too much ass. How old could the guy have been? Maybe early 40's at most? Where's the fairness in THAT, biology? At any rate, Icons of Filth may not have been the most innovative punk rock band in the world, but they held their own. Their riffs were mean, their lyrics were sincere and their scratchy, disturbing album artwork was cool as hell. At their worst, they played simple cliched chord sequences at a medium pace over and over for minutes on end (just to fit all the lyrics in). But at their best, they played fast as hell, strange, sick, angry, anguished riffs, occasionally utilizing some really inspired bass/guitar interplay. The buzzsaw guitar tone rang and shone like vintage GBH as Stiggy amelodically railed himself hoarse against politicians, conformity, authority figures, apathy, hate, war, vivisection and religion. And even their midtempo, less aggressive songs never approached the world of happy 'pop-punk' - this was true British anarcho-crust! But now what have you done? You've gone and given the singer a fatal heart attack. Thanks for nothing, stress, genetics or poor diet!!!! Get the hell off my web site! All THREE of you!!!

Used, Abused, Unamused EP - Corpus Christi 1983
Rating = 7

Three superfast songs, one midtempo. Two with creative mad-sounding chord sequences, two with fairly commonplace ones. Do they know how to play their instruments? Probably not very well. Has the vocalist been to Voice School? If so, they fed him a nail sandwich and crapped in his diaphragm. Does the drummer go by the name "Hunky Punky"? Apparently so, yes.

The thing about punk rock as it was back then and still is to some degree though not nearly as much as it was back then which was more than it is now although it still is now to certain people but not others and even back then I guess it wasn't to certain people but the majority found it important or at least more important than most today do though definitely there are some today who find it as pressing as even the strongest supporters back then is that the genre kinda demanded some sort of social or political commentary. As the majority of the bands were comprised of young liberals who all pretty much believed in the same thing (with minor deviations here and there, probably resultant of a guy in one band reading a book that the guys in the other bands hadn't read), punk lyrical content across the board could get a little samey. Important, definitely, in the sense that nobody is more likely to change a teenager's core beliefs than his favorite rock band. (Jello Biafra changed mine. It's true!) But still a little bit repetitive.

As such, it's always a wonderful treat when a lyricist actually puts some effort into his work. It's okay to promote the same message that everybody else is conveying, but at least try to present it in an artistically different way. And this guy did just that! I'm assuming Stiggy wrote the lyrics. If I'm wrong, let me know. But take for example "Asking Too Much." In SIX verses and choruses, Stiggy explains one-by-one in chronological order how every authority figure in his life - his parents, his teachers, his church, his political leaders, etc - have unwittingly worked together to create an ideology and atmosphere whose ultimate conclusion can only be nuclear annihilation. Sure, you get sick of hearing that riff after three and a half goddamned minutes, but Christ what a great song!

"Virus" is also noteworthy in its jarring twist of expectation (or whoever a good writer would phrase that). The opening verse discusses how unfair, lamentable and avoidable it is when a human is killed in a natural disaster. As a listener, you can only agree. Why did the mountain climber have to die in the avalanche? What if he'd just stayed in the cabin that day? Etc. You know. So you think it's a sad song about the finality of death. NOPE! Before you can turn your nose to see, Stiggy presents you with his real message: If it's so sad and unnatural for a person to die in an avoidable accident that "should never have happened," why are military conflicts so easily accepted as the "natural" state of things as they must be in the world? War IS avoidable, deaths in battle ARE unnatural, unfair, lamentable and every other word I could find in a thesaurus if I wasn't typing this in Outlook Express. How can one bemoan the meaningless of death by misadventure while supporting the continous sacrifice of a nation's youth by its cowardly, ineffective leaders? Patriotism, that's how! God bless America!

And get this -- the title track is about how politicians are LIARS!

I know! It blew my mind as well! I had to read the lyrics four or five times before I realized that it was just a fictional account of a non-existent world in which politicians COULD theoretically be dishonest. Thank God for reality! God bless America!

I like this record. None of the songs are bad, most are headbangingly speedy, and the title track features a particularly degenerate and awkward chord sequence for your appreciation. And dig that wild over-phased guitar in "Asking Too Much"! Hear that late-60s staple of lysergic overindulgent psych rock? That's PUNK! Also, the last song has like one chord.

Hey, I wonder if it's the one The Moody Blues lost! Should I ask Graeme Edge?

Nah fuck that, he'd just make up some shitty poem.

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Onward Christian Soldiers - Mortarhate 1984
Rating = 7

I was at the newsstand the other day enjoying all the latest magazines when it suddenly occurred to me exactly how many rock bands name themselves after magazines. You don't think about it, but it's true. Bands are constantly naming themselves in tribute to, or out of respect for, their favorite magazines. So I decided to make a list of bands that have named themselves after magazines. Won't you help me add to it? Here is my list so far:

morris day and the TIME
LIFE of agony
SPINal tap
GEORGE benson
loudon wainWright

You see? The list is almost endless! I only brought this up because I was wondering if anybody ever made a magazine called "Icons Of Filth." Because if so, a band will probably try to name themselves after it and then there will be TWO Icons Of Filth!!! Can you imagine!?!?

This is a full-length album by our friends in Icons Of Fifth. When Icons of Firth dec

The raw high-pitched fuzz guitar is still pumpin' through a chorusy sheen -- hopefully it's not MARTIN Sheen!!!! Take that out.

The drums are crisp and good to go, the bass guitar is light on its feet and wonderfully audible, and Stiggy sounds like a regular class working joe blue collar - gruff, rough, tough and a man. These songs however, aren't as speedy as the majority of those on the debut EP. Most of them are actually fairly midtempo as far as punk goes -- as fast as early Ramones, say. But don't coat your tongue in urine -- this is bitter British punk in the finest Subhumans/UK Subs tradition. No, not the "Miami Subs" tradition! Ha ha! That's funny that you should say that, because I just ate some food a few hours ago!

Sixteen songs long, this album might as well be called "Sociopathic Strangler," because it's "all c(h)ords"!!!! That was my tribute to the late Jack Parr.

Ficons If Olth had the ability to write some wonderfully memorable "sickened by life and confused by the world" three-chord chargers, but not necessarily a full LP of them. Some of these songs will positively jiggle your brainstem out of joint with their rolling torrents of lyrical and musical anguish (check out "Sod The Children" and the title track, for example), but a good half of them probably won't make you feel a thing. Not sadness, not your dick, not even boredom! And that's harsh, because when you're dealing with a singer who doesn't SING, the guitars are completely responsible for providing the song's hook. If the hook is just a guy going up and down on his guitar neck with no apparent goal in mind ("Dividing Line," "Show Us You Care," "One Second To Midnight") or the song is too slow to kick up any manic punk energy ("Fucked Up State," "Midnight, "Death Is The Only Release"), well mister that's not so much a punk rock song as a guy shouting in front of a suppurating wall of crap.

However, it's impossible to HATE a band like this. Their sound is tight, instantly likable and addictive, their style is vintage British anarcho-punk, and if you don't much care for one song, there's always a catchier one right around the corner. Even if it's not the most intense hardcore experience since pornography, half of it rules ass-ass, and you should feel comfortable knowing that you're going to get a good punk rock album that will teach you about the dangers of government, authority figures, vivisection, apathy, conformity and nuclear war. And where else are you going to find a punk rock album like that? Most of them are about tits and tractors!

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Braindeath EP - Mortarhate 1984
Rating = 8

So I'm reading this book about Italian cannibal and zombie movies and I can't believe how many of them have the word "Holocaust" in their titles! There's Cannibal Holocaust, Zombie Holocaust, Jungle Holocaust -- there's even a Porno Holocaust, if you can believe your ears! So I thought I'd help out our endlessly needful Italian friends of the Caribbean with a few titles of my own. I hope these all get used because they're GOOD!

-Car Holocaust
-Steve Holocaust
-Male Pattern Holocaust

Whew! I for one am tired after this hard day of brainstorming! Let's take a nap in this barrel of tea, shall we? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzbubblbblblllblblblbllblbbbbbb.................

But I'm okay! It was simply my mind playing tricks on you. UNDERSTAND!?

This 3-song EP, the band she advance, she grow! Immediate impression what worth first song she boomp boomp boomp and slow tremeloed cleany intro and song that just keeps changing she keeps changing she fast and she keep changing! And her lyrics, she j'accuse America of running England, which we do, of course, but how could we possibly leave the chore of self-government to a people who can't even figure out that you're supposed to use rising intonation when asking a question? Christ, why not just hand over Buckingham Palace to a bunch of smelly gorillas shoving bananas up their asses?

Track B celebrates the fucked-uppedness of the bassist, who drags you upward into Sick Wrongville as the finest IOF songs do. The always-orange guitar clings, frangs and frashes manically about the murder of animals for food. If I were still a vegetarian, I would totally agree with this sentiment. As it is, I totally agree with this sentiment with one caveat: Vegetables taste like a pile of shit wrapped in a sweaty gym sock dipped in urine. America's top dieticians agree!

Track three is a minute long with four hundred thousand parts. I can't figure it out, but it's about how you're taught to support "the system" your whole life. In concussion, this is a great goddarned punkity rock EP! If they could have come up with a full album of this type of cerebral-yet-asskicking material, they'd be worldwide legends like The Fall. Instead, there is no Legends of Icons Of Filth starring Brad Pitt, as there is ahhh f

Did you get it. It wasn't very good. But this record was. Did you get it. It was very good.

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The Filth And The Fury EP - Mortarhate 1985
Rating = 8

3 songs? THREE SONGS!?!? Since when am I supposed to have time to revie THRE SONG? See that? I'm so busy, I can't even complete all my words! Three songs? I mean, holy CRAP! I've got a child to rear; I don't have time for -- I mean, three songs? I've got a child's rear being squeezed by my roving hands; I don't have time to - I mean Christ, who the -- oh sure, ONE song, I can see where that could but THREE? Why not just drop a piano on my dick and tell me to play "Ode To Joy"? I mean, that's not

Look, to be blunt, the whole single is completely drenched in reverb. Guitars, drums, bass, vocals - everything sounds like it was recorded inside a gymnasium! Was it? Had the band by this point set up headquarters in a giant Anarchy Gym? Where they could create their leftist tracts and propaganda pamphlets while keeping in shape with a number of pull-ups and barbell weights? Well it worked, because now they sound as messy as MDC!

Track descriptions for the hard-of-hearing:

"Sunk Rock" - fast! great! cool dark chord sequnece! punk rock died because everyone was faking it and now they just want to be rock stars! if you could hear this, man!

"Evil Speak" - fast! great! all the fear that the media and authority force onto us leads to hate. we need to try love. if god hadn't given you shitty ears just so he could laugh at you, you'd be all OVER this one!

"Vivisector" - starts with dog and cat noises. Notes! Dark arpeggios! Very (early) TSOLy! Then turns into fast, basic, angry punk rock that's not so interesting. "murdering a cat/the torture of a jew again/it doesn't matter who feels it/the pain is still the same" you're probably just as well off not hearing this one. but man, if you could? ah HELL! think of the anecdotes we could all share! instead i guess we'll just talk about some dumbass "visual" phenomenon again (whoopeegoddamneddo)

The ski's the limit for this band of merry mirthmen! Wherever they go from here, it's up up up, because after two great but tiny 7" EPs, they're poised to hit their absolute creative peak with the equivalent of Sgt. Peppers II and Let It Bleed Again: The Revenge! Here they go! Look down below!!!!

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The Mortarhate Projects - Go-Kart 1995
Rating = 8

ALL OF THE ABOVE! Yes, it's true. Our friends at Goat-Cart have released a 30-song CD featuring all four of those previous releases plus four rare tracks from an early IOF cassette -- three of which are fast, mean and killer! They literally KILL you when you listen to them! Then you come back as a zombie that eats brains, writes record reviews and can only be killed by a shot to the head. To go along with my previous negativity, I should tell you that if you try to listen to this whole CD in one sitting, it will probably feel more like a "7" album than an "8" album, for reasons we've already discussed over the telephone. However, it's got EVERYTHING on it! Their entire (pre-reunion) discography on one CD!!! Just skip the boring ones and agree with my 8! It's "value for your dollar," Five O'Clock Scholar!

Why are you still at school at 5 PM anyway?

Wait a minute! You're nailing the janitor, aren't you!?!??!?! I KNEW I smelled menstruation on that mop!

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Nostradamnedus - Go-Kart 2002
Rating = 8

Hi! I'm an aborted baby! You know, when I'm not writing in my diary or asking my mother why she killed me, I like to listen to punk rock CDs. The friendly words of folks like Jonathan Rotten make me feel less like an animal and more like an abortion. Which is what I am, by golly!

The men of Go Kart Records have but one thing on their minds, and that is keeping an aborted baby on the dance floor. And here I am, doing the three-fisted tango with America's Skinhead Youth Population! Icons of Filth are, according to the always-trustworthy All-Music Guide For Murdered Babies, a British band who were recording as far back as 1984, but it looks like this reunion CD was recorded in Wales, so maybe they're Welsh. Whatever they are, their singer has one of those hoarse yelly voices like a guy who's been yelling for 18 years. Sort of like the MDC guy. He's not from DC though. INDK aren't either. MDC's non-DC CDs are A-OK! And I know this to be the case, because a doctor stuck a big pair of scissors into my mommy's vagina and hacked me into little bleeding pieces!

My point is that the music goes from midtempo to speedy, and the politics go from leftist to liberal. Having said that, some of their lyrics are as entertaining as a Lite-Brite - check these out: "Proud to be black? Proud to be white? Fucking why? The corridors of power are packed with puppets voted in by fuckwits." He's talking about you and me! Except I didn't vote, or be born.

How's about this one: "My tenth's a commandment to go fuck yourself!" Or "Copulate, populate, any fool can procreate, then dull its young to mutant state." !!!! Now see, that's personality. Like I have! I've had one since the very second I was conceived (I still remember how much my daddy's sperm tickled when it met my mommy's egg!)!

For some reason, I had heard from the other dead babies here in Hell where aborted babies spend eternity that this band really wasn't that great. Whoever told me that was DEAF as a BAT!

My little unloved dead offspring friend is right! Icons Of Filth were a terrific band and nowhere is this more obvious than on their comebac -- oh, sorry, this is Mark Prindle again -- k album, Nostradamnedus.

Unlike the black-and-white, grey, militaristic, emotionless anarcho-tones of early IOF, each song on this CD features as much color as the shiniest rainbow and as much spirit as Randy California's smegma bucket. It gets two thumbs up from me - and I've only GOT two thumbs! (*hides third thumb behind the sofa*)

First you gotcher two stereo tracks of high-pitched orange guitar fuzz -- louder, heavier, thicker and at times slightly more metallic than the old days. Might I add that the guitarist has gotten a lot better over the past decade, but unfortunately likes to add a dumb high Johnny Thunders lead guitar note over the tops of some of the chords (the way Johnny Ramone ruins "Chinese Rock" every time he plays it live). Add to this mystical broth a batch of cymbal-heavy drums, an adequate bass player, and a Stiggy who actually shouts NOTES every once in a while! (!!!)! ! (!) !!! (!!!!), and you've got yourself an all-new, star-fangled half-original-lineup Ipods Of Durst!

I unreservedly without hesitation recommend this CD. They've had several years to learn the difference between a punchy guitar line and one that sits on top of the aquarium, and it all shows through on Nostratavarius. Oh sure, there are a few weak bridges and choruses here and there, but you can't beat great, pounding, interesting, aggressive songs like "Riddled With Guilt," "Just Won't Go," "Treadmill," "Henry Ford," "Shake Your Foundations," "I Don't Need Society," "Holiday In Cambodia" or "I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement." And that's why I like rock music. Thank you for stopping by.

What the??? No! I was talking about something in specific before you made me start shouting out my favorite songs! In a nutshell, the Icons of Filth CD entitled "Pbblll." The entire mix is loud and distorted as HELL, the chord sequences are as anxious, weird and instantly loveable as the finest of their early material, and it even has two very pretty melodic pop-punk songs, all you Green Day fans out there! (go fuck yourselves)!

As an added bonus, the lyrics come from an older, wiser place than any we've heard from Stiggy McLegsalot before. In "Riddled With Guilt," he details all the aspects of his life that he feels guilty about (including his happiness). In "Ghetto Of Disillusion," he makes the obvious but so often forgotten point that all the "gangstas" killing each other for "respect" and "props" in their "hood" are actually powerless specks of "shit" in a world dictated by corporate heads and politicians. In "Treadmill," he paints a disturbing portrait of a stressed office bee driven by impotence and failure to "Beat his wife, beat her now. Don't beat a chicken, don't beat a cow. Don't beat a turkey, don't beat machines. Just beat that wife - she's filled with beans! (*tap dance solo*)"

Theoretically speaking, I wrote those lyrics, and not Stiggy at all. But in a spiritual sense, didn't we ALL write them in our hearts? I think so, and my friend at the copyright office agrees. Therefore, I'm now getting royalties from "Stairway To Heaven."

So if you're a fan of early Icons of Filth and were afraid to pick this one up, you need to get off your high horse and Give Old People A Chance. Don't worry! They won't bite!

Though when Stiggy returns from the grave as one of the Undead, I can't guarantee that....(etc)

And when Bobby Steele realizes that he's hired a zombie, I can't guarantee that....(etc)

And when Colin Blumstone realizes that he's joined a punk band led by an ex-Misfit, I can't guarantee that....(etc)

But one thing I CAN guarantee is that you'll never find a better deal on a Pontiac than you'll find down here at Chemically Dependent Eddie's! That's right - Chemically Dependent Eddie's! I slash prices because I'm addicted to crack cocaine!

This review has been a joint presentation of the unborn child you murdered, much-beloved online record reviewer Mark Prindle(TM), and fallen heavy metal superstar Edward Van Halen.

Reader Comments

Hi there,

Just a couple of things. Yes they are Welsh. And Nostradamnedus was done with all original members. I was their roadie, and sang in the benefit show for Stig. Just in case you were wondering. Thanks!!

"Hi! I'm an aborted baby! You know, when I'm not writing in my diary or asking my mother why she killed me..."

Did anyone get that reference? Just wondering, because I remember hearing a sample of an old record that fits that description perfectly. "WHYYYY DID YOU KIIIILL MEEEE, MOOOOMMY?" (*shudders*)

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