I have a problem. It’s an ugly habit that is destroying my life. When everyone else hates an album I love, a syndrome kicks in- its severity proportionate my peers’ collective hatred for said album- and I find myself compulsively determined to convince everyone that they’re wrong, that they just need to give it a truly objective chance.
May the Lord forgive me for my shameful sins. I’ve been to rock bottom and back more than a few times. Why, I once tried to convince everyone that has-been 90s alt-rockers Silverchair deserved a closer look, and I damn near lost an arm. And oh, how I’ve been disciplined by the wrathful flames of the internet by harboring sympathy for pariahs such as Hanson and Biffy Clyro.
But I must sin again. Forgive me, but I am unable to stop loving The Distillers’ 2003 album Coral Fang. I know they’re supposed to suck. Everyone I know scoffs when they’re referred to as a “punk rock band.” I know better than to trust Wikipedia, which says that frontwoman Brody Dalle wrote all the songs, played all the guitar, and sang all the words- I know the truth, that she was nothing more than arm candy for true punk rocker Tim Armstrong, Courtney to his Kurt, spinning his genius scraps into bronze. I know that doesn’t make her a legitimate musician. I know that The Distillers just, like, ripped off Rancid, and her new band Spinnerette will just rip off her new boyfriend’s band. I’ve been reminded of this and scolded by every credible, passionate, experienced, fucking brain dead punker I’ve encountered in my travels.
But Coral Fang is a great album, and I need to try and convince you of this. In 2002, I was with you; I couldn’t get behind The Distillers’ kiddie punk thing. But then Coral Fang broke out and picked up where Joan Jett left off. I don’t know where the little something extra came from. I don’t care to know anything about Brody’s relationship with Tim Armstrong, or their breakup earlier that year. Maybe it was bad. All I know is that Coral Fang hits the ground running at full speed. It maintains an energetic punk rage with mature rock dynamics. Punk rock gang vocals and breakdowns are backed by harmonies and runaway vocal deliveries that prove Brody’s right to the stage.
Here’s the video for the opening track & single, Drain The Blood. Ignore the 2003 punk rock fashion, and just focus on the music… and/or Brody’s ass:
The first three tracks could rightfully be charged with assault. It’s a dense eight minute steamroll, climaxing at a minute twenty into the third track, Die On A Rope, when the guitars drop out, and Dalle wails a battle cry:
I want to draw the blood from your neck, spill the lies in your bed.
I will give you a holy white rose, cut the tongue from your head.
A minute or so later, this bridge is revisted, with different lyrics that are likely not what every single lyric site and Distillers fan site report them to be. I’m pretty sure she’s screaming something about resent (not ‘red scent’), and then there’s something about primal black eyes and a scarlet letter on her chest.
Sounds something like rebellion and martyrdom, and that brings us rather naturally into track four, The relatively gloomy The Gallow Is God, one of two tracks that prevent me from calling the album completely relentless. That one, and The Hunger (track six) both give you a little room to breathe, and maybe some time to find the shoe you lost in the pit. With that said, The Hunger is actually one of the more noteworthy tracks on the album, managing to be a bit of an acoustic ballad without being cliché or cheesy. Here’s a pretty hot live version I found somewhere:
When I need a kick in the ass, this is one of the albums I look for. Anything by Clutch, maybe Use Your Illusion I, anything by Electric Six, anything by The (International) Noise Conspiracy or Refused, or Coral Fang.
Anyone can play fast and loud, but the menu is short when you need some real nutrition, and some spice to get the energy levels up.
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.