Newton, Massachusetts-- a suburb of Boston-- has repeatedly ranked as one of the nation’s safest and wealthiest cities of its size. It also happens to be the spawning place of one of the most hilariously diabolical bands in the nation, or even the world, although that ranking may be harder to prove statistically. The village pride of West Newton, Anal Cunt was led by the late vocalist Seth Putnam from 1998 until 2011, with an ever-changing lineup and a hiatus or two along the way. In June, 2011, Putnam died of a heart attack at the age of 43, but toward the end of his life, he put together what would be Anal Cunt’s lattermost, fully authorized set of recordings.
The Old Testament is a collection of the noisy grindcore band’s most archaic material along with rare and live recordings, released by Relapse Records in November, 2011. Released as a two-disc set, the collection includes their very first demo, which was recorded in April of 1988 but went unreleased until now. Also included are the 47 Song Demo (1988), 88 Song EP (1989), 5,643 Song EP (1989), Another EP (1991), Unplugged EP (1991), and Live EP (1991). Live recordings include shows in Germany and Indiana, and there is also material from several of their 7” splits as well as from The Masters of Noise compilation album. The set also features original liner notes by Putnam.
Anal Cunt are not family friendly, and they’re in your face about being politically incorrect, but in a way that is equal parts metal, awesome, and chuckle-worthy. They grabbed attention with their offensive song titles and lyrics, but these traits mostly appeared in their works after what is included in The Old Testament. Songs included in their early EPs are untitled and lack lyrics entirely, but the band still fit the humor into: Sporadically throughout TOT recordings, Putnam will shriek “Eeenie meenie minie moe,” which also happens to be some of the only decipherable words uttered during a song. And at the beginning of their Schwäbisch Hall, Germany live set, Putnam calmly announces “We’re The Beatles,” before launching into the first noise orgy. Also, listen for an incredibly brief MC Hammer cover in their 7” split with Psycho.
The many albums featured in this set are filled with songs that come as very brief, assaulting blasts with little semblance of form or rhythm. Songs often begin with some heavy, slow chords, and soon after explode into hellish chaos accompanied by Putnam’s varied guttural noises. This may last for around thirty seconds, and then they’ll launch into another one that’s basically indistinguishable from the last. But that’s the point: to make songs that are anti-everything that would typically constitute a song. If there were ever a sudden-death match between a dinosaur and Satan himself, the 5,643 EP might be what that sounds like. Anal Cunt’s early-day material is the most turbulent and cacophonous of their already extreme catalog, whereas later on the band began to incorporate more structure, riffs, and lyrics into their songs. While it is definitely an acquired taste sort of band in general, The Old Testament provides an extensive display of the infamous band’ most deviant and raw works-- you know, before they got all soft in later years.--Sarah Ruggiero