PAINKILLER — Guts of a Virgin (review)

PAINKILLER — Guts of a Virgin album cover EP · 1991 · Grindcore Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
PAINKILLER was one of the many projects of the prolific avant-garde jazz performer John Zorn and perhaps one of his most metal adventures. This band was quite unique at the time and took the listener where no one wanted to go which would be by mixing the unlikely disparate musical forces of avant-garde jazz with grindcore metal. GUTS OF A VIRGIN was the first of three studio albums but four live albums would also be released. The band consisted of John Zorn on sax, Bill Laswell (countless acts including Praxis, The Golden Palominos, Massacre, Buckethead, Iggy Pop, Herbie Hancock, Public Image Ltd etc) on bass and Mick Harris on drums who was most notably in Napalm Death. Although this is considered just as metal as jazz, there is no guitar to be heard.

GUTS OF A VIRGIN is extreme music to the max. This is guaranteed to alienate most jazz lovers for being too extreme metal and vice versa too jazzy for most metalheads. What we basically get on this cacophonous raucous is a highly distorted bass and drum attack accompanied by Zorn’s alto sax assault that really, i swear sounds like a tortured pig most of the time! It squeals like it’s being slaughtered live and the driving high pitched notes sound like a knife is being driven deep into its heart and twisted while pliers are ripping its snout from the skull. It’s truly tortuous stuff with dark resonating bass lines, pummeling drum abuse and saxophone nightmares. A soundtrack for horror films to be assured.

This is the same type of sax sound that appears on the first Mr Bungle album that was released the same year. It’s no wonder Mike Patton was so enthralled with his playing because Zorn delivers the most metal sound of any sax player i’ve ever heard. GUTS OF A VIRGIN is as filthy and dirty as the title implies. The muddy bass mixed with pig squeal sax create a free jazz / metal cacophony that also shows a bit of humor with song titles such as “Purgatory Of Fiery Vulvas.” The tracks are generally mid-tempo with some flair ups that add some intensity for contrast’s sake. While most tracks are instrumental, a few have some grindcore type of vocals screamed by Mick Harris. While the music is described as free jazz, it generally is so in the frenetic saxophone solos while the bass and drums have a recognizable groove firmly planted in the metal universe. This is a true assault to the senses! The compositions aren’t brilliant but it’s not bad for such an experimental album. Obviously only one for the hardcores!
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