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Guyana Punch Line


In/Humanity was a great band: hooky as hell, funny as fuck, and nearly as fast as light. Most important, the South Carolinian outfit proved that it’s possible to make late-to-the-party (we’re talkin’ 1992 to 1998) hardcore that doesn’t just re-create the wheel. For the folks in In/Humanity, punk meant not giving a crap about anyone else’s idea of punk. Rather than connecting the dots within some lame subgenre, the young Southerners spiked their metallic Molotov cocktails with tongue-in-cheek calls to commit suicide and worship Satan. Satiric and irreverent, In/Humanity was the ’90s rock band most like the Onion and most likely to offend Tipper Gore. On first listen, singer Chris Bickel’s new quartet, the well-monikered Guyana Punch Line, seemingly picks up where In/Humanity broke up: Bickel still screams like a kid who gave up Ritalin for Jolt Cola, and his Columbia-based band explodes at more beats per minute than Minor Threat. But Irritainment, the band’s second full-length, also finds Guyana Punch Line disappearing into punk’s bellybutton: Whereas In/Humanity flirted with extreme metal, Guyana Punch Line gazes deep into early ’90s emocore. “There’s nothing new/Underneath the sun/Everything I do/Is so done, done, done,” Bickel sings on “Better Off Dead (Two),” and it sounds as if the band is resigned to his pronouncement. Other tracks—”S.S.B.,” “Political P.I.G.”—replace In/Humanity’s hooks with melodramatic breaks that probably seemed really heavy at the time. But the biggest problem with this thing is that the band’s epic octave-chord sound and Bickel’s often goofy lyrics (“Skinz and punx, skinz and punx, skinz and punx, they’re the skinz and punx”) aren’t easily reconciled. It’s obvious from Bickel’s anti-emo lyrics that the slow, exaggeratedly evocative intro to “Tears on the Backpack” is meant to be ironic, but it still doesn’t make for good listening. It seems unimaginable that a record with a song called “Home Fucking Is Killing Prostitution” could be anything less than brilliant, but Irritainment proves it can. —Brent Burton