no doctors: hunting season CD

"Voltaire once said, "One must have the devil in him to succeed in the arts." If the good Frenchman was right, No Doctors are the living incarnations of Satan.

Hunting Season is the kind of frighteningly brilliant album that tickles you with all the pleasures of hell while scaring the living bejeezus out of you. It's a thunderously, cacophonously intimidating record. The band gleefully straddles and violates the line dividing insanity and genius, urging their flaming steed of Hades through the filthiest, sleaziest fire-and-brimstone territories of rock and roll. In short, No Doctors forge the kind of bluesy garage-rock maelstrom that would make Iggy Pop piss his pants.

The earth-pounding apocalypse of "Campaign Special" immediately sends timid listeners packing, while titillating the more adventurous folks cowering at the base of the speakers. Throwing a bloodthirsty set of wicked blues riffs over nasty percussion and searing the mix with static and fuzz, No Doctors power through their first outrageous mission statement with demonic intent, melody lines ablaze under firebombing electrics and spats of saxophone. They eat Exile on Main Street alive, and shove it into a meat-grinder with Funhouse, churning out a blistering purée of wicked hooks and melody on "Icicle of Love Song". However, while they sound like a runaway train, No Doctors are in control; they deftly and unexpectedly shift their song dynamic to repetitive, addictive blues patterns that proceed with sure deliberation under air-scorching guitar solos.

Discerning exactly who's playing what instruments in this ungodly, sublime unity of blues-rock and noise can be a bit confusing, but it's never impossible. Usually Chauncey Chumpers's guitar figures burst to the fore; his axe and Patrick Fogarty's smart bass work only semi-successfully anchor Elvis DeMorrow's careening, soul-shredding electric. DeMorrow's ruthless perversion of the songs' central riffs and ideas forms an ingenious counterpoint to Chaumper and Fogarty's more grounding musical phrases. And while I doubt that the drummer's name is actually "Mister Muthafuckin B", his solid rhythms are the single unifying force in a cataclysmic mix -- to which, believe it or not, Cansafis Foote contributes a sax and...a viola? As for vocals, they're indecipherable because, well, Chauncy and Foote are usually howling their heads off. One phrase stood out: "Step up to the mic / Would you rather ride a bike / hell no!" What were you expecting, Frost?

It would be a grave error to confuse this unbelievably tight collection of songs (ten tracks under 40 minutes) with directionless pan-beating; there is an underlying logic behind Hunting Season's eviscerating aggression. "Sharkskin Blues"'s cacophony and dissonance may seem purely chaotic, but Muthafuckin B's rhythm slides the song into ravaging, startling riffs through several variations, leaving a noiseless breath of space to prep the fantastic drive into fucked hooks and noisy oblivion. Looking for those seedy patterns isn't a walk in the park, but neither is it a trudge through the river Styx. For all their surface anarchy, No Doctors make it patently clear that they're pounding out these hell-hound tracks with a method, incorporating recognizable variation in time signatures, keys and pace. The assault never lets up, but it steers clear of monotonous abrasion. Sometimes it's utterly cathartic in the true sense of the word, embodying suffering and release at the same time.

In that way, Hunting Season accomplishes a surprising and improbable feat: it dives to the bottom of the rock cosmos and flips the universe upside down to enter Heaven's back door for joyous invasion. It's uncompromising, willful, destructive and raucously daring. In other words, it's easily one of the most incendiary rock albums you'll hear this year."