ISS – “Too Punk For Heavy Metal”
by Jay Armstrong
There are maybe four bands giving me feels beyond pacified as of late. ISS are one of them. Working on the review for the new Spits album, this forty-five Total Punk Records put out in June is what I find myself playing on repeat while catching a break. Initially, this one seemed as though it ran the risk of losing its kick, as though it might get beaten into the background slightly with each play. Here we are months later and it keeps hitting better.
Somewhere lower on the list of reasons this one rides is how it can be listened through osmotically internalized without superficial awareness beyond face value while occassionally getting that in-on-it shit eating goodtime grin which comes from being hip to a truth you gotta be really IN to know (ie, read it in the description on the website but will probably pretend you figured it out on your own)—that “Too Punk For Heavy Metal” is a response to Heavy Metal’s “Too Sick For Total Punk” and the immediate familiarity comes from the bass line being a mimicked representation of the intro from the Dead Kennedys‘ “I Am the Owl;” Heavy Metal, a band who at times sound like your kid brother is having a couple of his annoying friends over while they record the vocals for some demo only they will ever hear—shit talk aside, a handful of Heavy Metal’s songs are rather damn good and since they seem to aspire directly towards the asthetic of being eternally adolescent buds fucking around in their basement, all criticism should be taken in jest. Speaking of the Dead Kennedys, y’all caught wind of Jello Biafra lately? His philosophical politics—ala Twilight of the Idles—are glorious as ever as he speaks out in hopes of getting a few more sleepy-eyed Johnny Rockers motivated enough to vote next month; witnessing Biafra remain unflinchingly poetic with a purpose after all these years is almost Homeric. Moral of the story, for “Too Punk For Heavy Metal” to rip on so many levels while my neighbors obviously fucking hate it deserves far more credit than it has gotten. Last year’s Alles 3rd Gut (Sorry State Records) album is equally lifting if you are new to ISS or just need a reminder that, despite our minimal awareness, they do in fact have great rock n roll bands in North Carolina.
The Total Punk catalog is phenomenal. Keep them in your peripherals for when you get some extra coin in your pocket.