"Rip Your Head Off" by Massasauga

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"Rip Your Head Off" by Massasauga


Just when you thought it was safe… back come Massasauga with another of their tales of the predatory. This time round, they don't mess around even with the title:  "Rip Your Head Off" (due out on 8th December) hardly is ambiguous in terms of its message.

To be honest, given their explicit tribute to Steven Spielberg's "Duel" with "Motorbeast" back in March (and "explicit" pretty much sums up the Massasauga approach), I expected a similar nod to "Jaws" here. But I was wrong. Conrad Lummus informs me that though indeed there is plenty of shark imagery going on (amplified by the cover art), the starting point wasn't the 1975 film success as such: though in practice it certainly has the effect of a homage.

Although Birmingham is a pretty long way from anywhere sharks live (apart of course for the Sea Life Centre), were Black Sabbath to have turned their attention to the subject around the time of the film, you might have got something along the lines you get here. The fact that Massasauga only field half the size of lineup merely adds to the impressive response to their managing to sound just as loud & just as nasty. Given that their most recent release was a cover of "Paranoid", you might conceive of the influence rubbing off somewhat too.

Massasauga live for the Riff (as did Sabbath) and if that's what rocks your boat, you'll love "Rip Your Head Off".

Oddly enough, despite the mayhem going down and their reputation as the finest fuzz rock duo round our way, the guitar is about the least distorted I've heard from Conrad: perhaps in order to match with his icily dispassionate vocals  as he calmly outlines the fate awaiting the listener: again in wholly explicit terms. I don't think we are talking deep metaphors here, (though of course the song is about more varieties of predator than just sharks) but there is a hint of victim complicity/S&M action ("is this the thrill you're looking for?") in there as well. As others have found out before, this sort of detachment can be even more frightening than an all out gorefest.

If Conrad is using his instrument in the stiletto manner of the shark's tooth (there are definite parallels with "Mack The Knife" is this song) then Adam Stewart provides a contrasting approach on drums, which are battered without mercy throughout: I doubt many of his cymbals survived intact.

Massasauga singles are not for the faint hearted but if you like your medicine strong, they don't half get the pulse racing: which might be quite handy if you need an extra turn of speed to evade one of these predators of which they sing…

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