OBSCENE GESTURE / VARANT MAJARIAN: In: Clubbing Seals for Fun and Profit: Split CD

It’s funny what little, seemingly inconsequential things can tip the scales in a reviewer’s mind when assessing the virtues of a new recording. When I first saw the band logos – both of that “scary” lettering ilk, like they were doodled on a notebook cover by some death metal miscreant in detention one day – along with the cover illustration of some smiling little punks beating harp seals over the heads with baseball bats, the alarms went off in my head. But then I noticed that the little drawings all over this thing are kind of cute in a “Maddy-esque” way and that they even included a funny little board game called the “Punk Point Game” and that sort of reminded of something Crucial Youth would’ve done back in the day. There’s obviously a sense of humor at work here and that almost always makes me less prone to attacking a band with a bag full of dull, rusty adjectives. Obscene Gesture come across like a poor man’s Chain of Strength with quasi-religious lyrics, plus they thank “God” in the credits, so I don’t think the sense of humor is theirs. It seems to be an outgrowth of the good times vitriol of Varant Majarian. Sure, it’s humor that would probably appeal to that miscreant kid doodling in detention, but hell, it’s a sense of humor nonetheless. Plus their singer sounds like a cross between Darby Crash and Jello Biafra, and you gotta like that. Two hardcore bands that don’t sound like they’re trying to sound like each other. Not bad stuff. Give yourselves a few extra punk points, boys.

–aphid (Chicken Head)