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Left Hand Backwards - "Left Hand Backwards" (CD)

Left Hand Backwards - "Left Hand Backwards" CD cover image

"Left Hand Backwards" track listing:

1. LHB
2. Wheelz On Da Buss
3. Nothing
4. Pogo
5. Flukeworm
6. In Loving Memory
7. Broken
8. Tongue Ring
9. Heather
11. Grave Robbin'
12. Tragedy

Reviewed by on July 2, 2012

"It's loud, brash, ballsy, obnoxious, and raging in your face. It's rock and roll."

“It’s a little rough around the edges,” says vocalist Paul Spink of his debut album, “But that’s how we roll!” Indeed. Anyone wishing for Left Hand Backwards to clean up its sound, its lyrics, or its act is listening to the wrong band. Raw, unpolished, deliberately sloppy fun is the whole point. It’s the musical equivalent of that night-before, slap-dash science project you threw together in middle school that “tested” the effects of farting on a lit candle, to the delight of your friends and the chagrin of your teacher. If there’s one overriding message, it is this: “Take your serious attitude and shove it up your ass. This is rock and roll. Have we forgotten how silly the whole genre is? Good grief.”

First, the music. “Left Hand Backwards” offers a crack-addled, volatile, unstable cocktail of punk, groove metal, hardcore, and thrash, and gives it to you good and hard, on its own terms. Bad Religion, Cro-Mags, Hatebreed, NOFX, Pantera, Prong, Testament – the list goes on, and trying to file individual cuts neatly away in separate categories is a pointless exercise, for the band keeps you on your toes. You never know when a song will suddenly veer from smooth California punk to a machine-gunning double bass explosion or a crunching breakdown, and vice versa. Two songs deep, you’ll stop trying to predict… anything, really. This kind of disjointed, schizoid songwriting would spell major trouble for a traditionally staid and stoic metal band, as would the relatively lengthy tracklist (trust me, a whole dozen of these tunes is pushing it a little). However…

A noted Psychostick fan, Spink ladles enormous gobs of outrageous, offensive lyrical hilarity all over these songs. Whether he’s singing, hollering, growling, or even rapping, you can be sure the topic is something that’ll annoy the living shit out of your mom or land you in a sensitivity seminar. Among them: needing drugs (“Heather”), needing a job to make money to buy drugs (“Nothing”), dirty one-night stands involving booze, blood, and urine (“IDWBA”), butchering your lying ex-girlfriend with an ax (“Tongue Ring”), John Wayne Gacy (“Pogo”), and riding the “short bus” to school (“Wheelz On Da Buss”). “LHB” is a bouncy, Anthrax-esque chant that introduces the lineup and flaunts their respective skills with a vulgar charm. Despair, rage, and grief are given plainspoken nods on “Broken,” “Flukeworm,” and “In Loving Memory,” while the downright revolting (and awesome) “Grave Robbin’” speaks for itself.

Pulitzer-caliber stuff. It’s just the sort of ludicrous, tongue-in-cheek joyride we all need now and again to cut loose and blow off some steam, and “Left Hand Backwards” is the perfect soundtrack to such ranting black humor and primitive, unsubtle emotion. It’s loud, brash, ballsy, obnoxious, and raging in your face. It’s rock and roll.

Highs: Zero pretension or calculated pseudo-intellectual preening. What you hear is what you get: a raw crossover collision of hardcore punk and metal that's all too aware of its own ridiculousness.

Lows: Frequent changes of pace and attitude within certain tracks' running times can be a little too jarring and disrupt the vibe, making the otherwise standard-length tracklist feel more plodding than it should.

Bottom line: A punk metal battery of pulp, raunch, cheese, sleaze, humor, and horror that benefits from a purposeful lack of sophistication.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)