Frenzal Rhomb – The Cup of Pestilence (Album Review)
Frenzal Rhomb – The Cup of Pestilence
Released: April 7th, 2023
Jason ‘Jay’ Whalley // Vocals
Michael Dallinger aka Dal Failure// Bass
Gordy Foreman// Drums
Lindsay McDougall // Guitar
Frenzal Rhomb online:
Forming in 1992, Frenzal Rhomb launched into the Australian music scene like Tesla into oncoming traffic. Since then they’ve been subject to rave reviews such as ‘not shit’ and ‘oh yeah, I’ve heard of them’. Their music, renowned for its juvenile lyrical content and attitude was a staple of what 40-somethings call ‘Triple J’s golden age’ and saw them get global recognition and a spot on indie punk label, Fat Wreck Chords. Flash forward 30 years and the odd brain worm later and they’re still the same hilarious degenerates (which I say with all the love in the world). You’re probably ready to ask ‘but Dave, surely after 30 years they have nothing left to write about?’ and 9/10 times you’d be right. But as anyone who’s ever been to a party with a homemade alcoholic fruit punch already knows, sometimes the best stuff is what you scrape off the bottom of the barrel.
Frenzal Rhomb’s tenth studio album, The Cup of Pestilence, covers everything from drug dealers to drug cooks, to actually taking drugs. Really diverse stuff. But is it any good? The answer is a hard no – because it’s better than good – it’s absolutely fucking awesome. This record slaps so hard that it got banned from the Oscars (#SorryNotSorry). Anyway, this album is 19 catchy, fun, and unrelentingly charming songs. The vocal hooks and guitar riffs are all peak Frenzal. I’m calling it early – this is the best album of 2023. The rest of you fucks may as well drop your records in 2024 because 2023 is the year of Frenzal Rhomb (sorry Periphery, I don’t make the rules).
The Cup of Pestilence was recorded at Colorado’s infamous Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson, Jason Livermore, and a bunch of other incredibly talented individuals. Stevenson is famous for producing some of the best punk records of the 21st century, playing drums in Descendents and, in Jay’s own words being ‘a tyrant’. So between presumably beating a good performance out of the band and the collective production talent at The Blasting Room it’s no great surprise that this record sounds as good as it does.
Lindsay McDougall is no slouch on guitar but it feels like his playing and writing improve with every record. Where a lot of guitarists would probably stick the same old four chords Lindsay throws in a few tweaks and tricks that keep things creative and interesting without ever feeling like he’s overdoing it. It’s the cornerstone of the melody that gives Jay’s vocals something to bounce off. This is great because Jay’s singing and his lyrics are all in top form. He’s as pointed and antagonistic as ever with just enough cheek to let you know that it’s all in good fun. Jay is that rare kind of frontman that can sing about instant coffee or horrifying bushfires and somehow have the same impact with either. I dunno, maybe the banality of existence is just as affecting as its horrors. Maybe it’s all absurd? Whatever it is, Jay has a take on it and you’re gonna hear about it. It’s classic Frenzal stuff really, but it’s better than ever.
Dal Failure, who you may already know from the very, very excellent Local Resident Failure, brings a lot of added depth to the tracks. It’s his first Frenzal album, having joined the band on bass duties in 2019 after long-time Frenzaler, Tom Crease left the band. Dal brings a lot of character to his playing that drives the band ever so slightly harder, and maybe even more ambitiously, than what was on previous records – see ‘How To Make Gravox’. It works in spades and proves that he is a great addition to the band. He, and drummer Gordy Foreman, work in unison to create a monstrous rhythm section that works like gangbusters throughout the album.
All the fun and jokes aside the real charm of Frenzal’s music is the celebration and camaraderie found in our journey through everyday life. This isn’t just surface-level fluff. It takes a look at the world and embraces it in all of its lunacy. It’s hard to pick a high point on an album like this but ‘Those People’, ‘Instant Coffee’, and ‘I Think My Neighbour Is Planning To Kill Me’ are all destined to become classics and hopefully staples of Frenzal’s live shows.
Frenzal Rhomb have been doing this for over 30 years and much like the edibles in my cupboard, they only get better with time. The Cup of Pestilence is a solid 10 out of 10 album and easily the best thing I’ve heard in a while. So kick back, crack your favourite drug of choice, and give this one a spin.
Frenzal Rhomb – The Cup of Pestilence tracklisting
1. Where Drug Dealers Take Their Kids
2. Gone To The Dogs
3. The Wreckage
4. Dead Man’s Underpants
5. Lil Dead$hit
6. Laneway Dave
7. Instant Coffee
8. Dog Tranquilliser
9. I Think My Neighbour Is Planning To Kill Me
10. Horse Meat
11. How To Make Gravox
12. Deathbed Darren
15. Hospitality and Violence
16. Those People
17. Old Mate Neck Tattoo
18. Finally I Can Get Arrested In This Town
19. Thought It Was Yoga But It Was Ketamine
The Cup of Pestilence is out April 7th, 2023 via Fat Wreck Chords/Virgin Music. Pre-Order here
Review By – Dave Mullins