CD Review: "Stalk & Slash Splatterama Pt. 2: Exploitation Extravaganza"

CD: Stalk & Slash Splatterama Pt. 2: Exploitation Extravaganza
ARTIST: The Renfields

There are a few local bands that we’ve got to cover, that, it wouldn’t matter if they never played another show or put out another CD, we would be rocking ‘em out years from now.

Maybe no other band falls better into this category than the Clarksburg-based “Transylvania pogo punk” outfit known as The Renfields. Having, over the course of the last three or four years, snagged copies of The Night THEY Came Home, Bastard Sons of Ed Wood, and what is now Stalk and Slash Splatterama Pt. 1, we’ve quite honestly fell head over heels in love with Team Transylvania’s version of fun, horror movie-themed punk rock influenced by bands like The Ramones, The Mummies and The Misfits.

Not unlike The Ramones, each undead or somehow re-incarnated member of The Renfields take the last name of Renfield, after its progenitor, founder, and singer-guitarist the Abominable Vincent Renfield, whose voice just might evoke an undead teenage Glenn Danzig for the most part, and who has brought The Renfields from a one-man project recording on a four-track with a drum machine, sampling horror movies onto songs about the horror movies.

Maybe no other band has seemed to have wrapped up their music into such a coherent package over the course of their CDs in this age of mp3 releases and singles, we actually want to listen to entire Renfields CDs precisely because they make it fun to do so.

And even though these kids love the grisliest of the most underground type horror and slasher flicks, you’ll never meet a nicer dude than Vincent. So many musicians, as some readers of this blog may know, take themselves waaay too seriously, on top of that somehow trying to maintain an air of elitism or whatever. If we never reviewed one Renfields CD, it would seem unfathomable that Vincent would have the temerity or hubris to, for one reason or another -- threaten us in any way.

All that said, the songs on this new Renfields EP are in some ways better, but still not as good as what is on their past releases. There is no “Prom Night,” “Dawn of the Dead,” or “Halloween Night,” as Team Transylvania has taken on more of a hardcore punk or even metal bent over the seven songs and maybe slightly more than half an hour’s worth of material on S&S Pt. 2, away from the more fun, pop-punk sound that we’ve loved for so long.

But -- they’ve taken steps forward in the production and arrangement departments. The hardcore, double-kick sounding drums will be the first thing that jumps out to longtime Renfield fans. There’s also upgrades and more ambitious layering and effects on the vocals, which lend to the eery, scary feel. The spooky organ seems, on the whole, to fit in well underneath the sound, and as far as the samples go (always such an important part) the band seems better able to, well slice and/or slash them up more acutely inside of the songs, where in the past, it was just like someone was sitting there with a DVD or whatever pressing “play” before and after the songs.

They seem to be not only getting away from the pop-punk sound, but may move past the (maybe out of necessity) use of “blood-curdling mono” recording style.

After the spooky, detuned intro, From Beyond is kind of a “Renfields GO!” type opener, introducing listeners to their exploitative version of terror and perversion. Sorry kids, no one under 17 admitted. Everything survives, and everything is ugly. But, it’s only a record. It’s only a record.

Night of the Creeps has more of a more traditional, fun, Renfields punk sound with machine gun lyric delivery. Danger: Diabolik is a good example of the increased use of distorted, lo-fi vocal parts.

New York Ripper is straight up hardcore mosh type stuff, with growl core lyrics in the verses (with some nicely placed “whoahs” in the choruses). If it sounds like a duck, it just might be someone getting to get killed off.

On Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS Vincent sounds as much like Glenn Danzig as he ever has, singing about “go-go Gestapo” girls with vocals added by Jaymee Lee overtop funky bass lines.

Deadbeat at Dawn has the spooky organ, sample, and hardcore punk sound w/lo-fi vocals not like much any Renfields sound we’ve heard.

If The Renfields are ever able to settle into a lineup, with this new Fiend’s body, it’d be great to see what they do. But the great thing is, we wouldn’t care if Vincent was making music on a four-track in his bedroom with a drum machine and a sampler, recording onto cassettes; we’d likely still gobble up the output like so many zombies do brains.

But don’t take our word for it; if you like punk rock and/or horror movies, go back and see if the band can hook you up with the past releases. As much as we do not like gory, scary slasher flicks, we love The Renfields. Renfields GO!

mp3: “Deadbeat at Dawn” by The Renfields

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Jake F. said...

I listened to it because you write about them a lot, and there were two articles about them on the front page. It wasn't really for me. I think I was expecting much more.

I was confused by the boost in production comment, because there are other songs on their MySpace that sounded better IMHO. Not only in quality but performance. I heard the double bass you were talking about, but the drums and the organ had timing issues. It all felt a little disjointed. Sort of harsh to listen to too, but maybe you were reviewing a cd and not myspace.

I dont' know. I just think music reviews, even local ones, should be fair.

The album art looked really cool. Do you know if they drew it themselves?

WVRockscene! said...

this is probably one of the best comments ever on the site. i think everything you're saying is true. the production comments referenced the vocals and the samples i think.

i hope the review could be considered fair, as your comment certainly is certainly well thought out and you make good points. but if you went back and listened to the older stuff then that's cool too.

i don't think they drew the art themselves, though.

Vincent Renfield said...

Bleedings! The album art was done by Jason "pappi" kisner from killer design. He is a Cleveland artist, mask, and prop maker. His stuff ranges from Ghostbusters proton pack replicas to Clockwork Orange masks! Check out his auctions on ebay under the seller name killerdesign or through his myspace... He is currently in the Renfields top friends.

Rot N Roll!