The grindcore gameplan is to typically be as pissed off, ugly, and disgusting as possible — you know, the furthest thing from sugar, spice, and everything nice. Virginian duo Adam Young and his seven year old daughter Joanie however have turned this idea upon its head, creating a (relatively) kid-friendly atmosphere with modern grind aesthetic with their band Sockweb. Instead of references to over-the-top violence, drug abuse, religion, and politics, we’re treated to an endearing concept album wherein Joanie befriends a Werewolf that lives under her bed. This may be the first and only time you’ll hear a grindcore record and leave with an “awwww!”
Sockweb acts on a frontier between serious artistic innovation in the genre and satire. Werewolf plays with nearly every grind trope imaginable; ‘Flower‘ ridiculously builds up to an explosive ‘You Suffer’ sort of quick-burning grind while samples from Blues Clues, Scooby Doo!, Spongebob Squarepants and more run amok. Genre-bending is also a theme, with a bluesy Southern rock section opening up at the end of the title track and symphonic blackened death metal comes out of nowhere during ‘Spoon.’ It’s not like grindcore is deprived of self-parody, but Werewolf holds a funhouse mirror to the face of grind, and allows us all to laugh at how ridiculous the genre is in a way that has never been done before.
There may or may not be a grand statement behind Sockweb (there actually isn’t), but the record is impressive in its own right. Multi-instrumentalist Adam Young weaves riffs snatched out of the Scott Hull playbook and uses them to craft incredibly memorable songs, all approved by Joanie. The performance from Joanie throughout much of the record is remarkable as well, drawing early comparisons to Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s Katherine Katz. It’s clear which tracks were recorded before she found her voice — ‘I Like Pancakes’ is yelled instead of screamed — but much of the record is a testament to Adam’s coaching and Joanie’s natural talent. Her tiny voice is more vicious than many grown men out there, so it’s no wonder why it didn’t take much convincing to land Katz a guest spot on Werewolf’s final track, ‘Salamander Karate,’ wherein they both trade lines about how Joanie’s new friend and defender Wolfie will beat us all up.
The only anomaly that strikes Werewolf negatively is its inconsistent production. Scott Hull’s mastering job definitely carries his signature, but somewhere down the line an oversight or two was made. ‘Spoon‘ clips to distortion once the black metal rears its ugly head, and Joanie’s vocals are distorted and muffled in the brilliantly titled ‘Broken Glass Swandive.’ These glaring faults make the record appear amateurish in overall quality. Some minor missteps in an otherwise fun record.
Werewolf is silly for sure, and there’s an inherent heart to the project, with a new level in family bonding which we may have never seen before. It’s easy to write Sockweb off as a gimmick, but keeping an adolescent interested in a project is certainly hard enough, which is evidence that Joanie’s interest in extreme music is genuine — at least for the time being. Hopefully Sockweb is a project that grows with Joanie, as she and her father Adam have captured a unique spirit in Werewolf that needs to be heard again.
[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=3271625006 size=large bgcol=333333 linkcol=4ec5ec tracklist=false artwork=small]
Sockweb – Werewolf gets…