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Milligram : This is Class War

There's been a huge buzz in the past few months about the Traktor7 issue of Milligram's 'This is Class War'. Limited to an edition of 300, the lucky owners of this deluxe CD have been throwing around terms like "album of the year" and "classic" and "sought over 20 years from now." Well, that's enough to pique anyone's interest, and yet you have to wonder if this is one of those "instant classics" that end up gathering dust in a couple of years.

My familiarity with Boston's Milligram has been limited to only a couple of tunes, so I was glad to see Small Stone step up to reissue this bad boy for the rest of us, complete with bonus tracks adding up to over 30 extra minutes of music. And let me tell ya, all the praise for this record is well deserved!! Its brutal, sick, and punishing as hell, combining diverse influences such as Japanese noise, punk, doom, psychedelia, stoner, and even underground pop. The production is startling, with a distorted drum sound that virtually takes over the disc. I doubt if you've ever heard anything like it. And lets not forget that delicious tube tone, beloved by all who take sound quality seriously. Yep, 'This is Class War' (originally entitled 'Death to America') is indeed a classic.

The first half of the record - with a track list highlighted in black on the back of the CD - replicates the Traktor7 issue. 'Let's Kill' starts things off with a damaging early Helmet feel, giving you a taste of those mondo-distorted drums. The following songs are short, punky, and furious, gradually introducing an artier strain; Jonah Jenkins' remarkable vocals recall David Yow's work with Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid. 'I Know, I'm Sorry' sounds like it could have been written by 'Funhouse'-era Iggy', while '+2 Charisma' makes you grind your teeth like the best early 80s west coast punk can do. Gradually, the song lengths increase as the songs themselves become more psychedelic. 'Summer of Lies' is spacier, stonier, more melodic, and even introduces a piano! 'Nice Problem' sounds like a nastier version of something by Boston stoners Roadsaw; not surprising, considering that guitarist Darryl Sheppard was in that band. By the end things get downright doomy, best exemplified by the instro 'The Resentinel', with its slow tempo and plunging power chords.

The last half of the disc is far more than a collection of second-rate outtakes. 'Baikal Depths' and 'Baikal Shallows' are ambient and experimental, totally different than anything that's come so far. Some of the following tunes, with titles like 'A Mess on Strom Thurmond's Dress', are weird, psychedelic, swirling pieces that recall the Melvins' more unstructured ramblings. The disc ends with one of their best songs, 'My Own Private Altamont,' which trails off into a studio snippet of Milligram screwing around with Pink Floyd's 'Money.'

If you want safe and predictable, then you'd better shop elsewhere. This music is like a Cro-Magnon chief blasted out of his head on mushrooms, sucking the marrow out of a femur from the chief of a neighbouring clan: brutal, intense, and vision inducing. Sadly, Milligram is no more. Get their swansong and get buzzed.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Let's Kill
2. Jeff's Flag
3. Let's Pretend We Don't Know Each Other
4. +2 Charisma
5. Thousands and Thousands and Thousands and Thousands
6. Get Fucked Again
7. I Know, I'm Sorry
8. Summer of Lies
9. Nice Problem
10. Winner Versus Loser
11. Saturation Emission
12. She's a Prostitute
13. The Resentinel
14. This is Class War
15. Baikal Depths
16. Baikal Shallows
17. A Mess on Strom Thurmond's Dress
18. Let's Kill (Drums/Vocals Only)
19. Constant Sucking Sensation
20. Emblematic Sac
21. Sadegh Hedayat
22. I Know, I'm Sorry (Drums Only)
23. A Thousand Cuts
24. Urdu is an Amalgam
25. Death to America
26. My Own Private Altamont

Duration : Approx. 70 minutes

Visit the Milligram bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
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