Review of Bullet Machine – Knuckle Supper –
Moxie Punx, Moxie Punx, Moxie punx… goof off!
By: Forrest Cook
It’s impossible to know the band, Bullet Machine, without first knowing the people behind the band. Ironically, the quiet one in the group is Matt. He’s the guy in the back, banging on stuff. Then there’s Tyson, the celebrated voice actor known for bringing life to Itaru “Daru” Hashida in the anime, Stein’s Gate, and had a role in the English-language-dubbed version of Attack on Titan. Phipps is the resident space wizard who manifests transitory hypno-electric bursts in oscillating measure – a monument to human engineering. Then there’s Rob, who’s pretty much going to tell you exactly what he thinks, at exactly the time he thinks it, and won’t hesitate to call you out on a terrifying Tokyo future involving, perhaps one or two too many Godzillas. They’re all scene veterans, and all of them should probably know better – but don’t.
Bullet Machine is known for their peculiar rendition of Grindhouse Punk Rock, (if you don’t know what that is then I suspect you’ve also never rewound a VHS tape) and Knuckle Supper is no exception. Sadly, there’s just not much to complain about… granted I’m not Rob Michaud (bass, vocals) who I’m sure could find a finger or two to point at somebody. (One in particular.)
Persevering in their “moxieful” praxis – established in earlier releases (two full-lengths and a Star Trek concept EP) – of writing songs about movies, or “movies I wish existed,” Rob elaborates, the songs on Knuckle Supper are all about “weird conspiracy stories. Tyson’s songs are movie based, with the exception of ‘End of the World, Dude’ – and if you haven’t seen five element ninjas, do yourself a favor, because it is awesome!”
“‘In My Lair’ is Blofeld bragging to James Bond about how awesome his evil lair is, and maybe flirting a little bit. ‘Teenage CHUD’ is about a patriotic underground cannibal working for the government to pay off his debt to society. ‘Too Many Godzillas’ is about…too many Godzillas. ‘This Hollow Earth’ is about a conspiracy that the Germans believed Aryan angels lived in the center of the Earth, that there was a temporal portal in the South Pole, and that we sent 45k American troops to fight them for control of the portal, and then covered it up. ‘Head in a Jar’ is about an egotistical head in a jar taunting the person guarding it. ‘Humanzee’ is about a human/chimp hybrid created by the Russians, and looking down on the earth as he’s fired in a rocket into space. ‘End of the World, Dude’ is a dude-bro relaying all of the disasters going on around him as the world ends. ‘Five Element Ninjas’ is a revenge tale of a kung-fu tournament gone wrong, and a ninja’s struggle to become the ultimate fighter. ‘Night of the Comet’ is about fighting back after a comet-based zombie attack.” – It’s the complete package.
Goofballs!! These guys are some serious goofball rockers identifying as pop punk, but who in actuality have much more of a punk-n-roll feel. While the lyrics may be silly in nature, the music itself, and the method of delivery is anything but.
Kudos for the Ramones-esque retrofit simplicity which defines the core of the band, but the elaborations of Phipps Stewart on guitar, who knows how to work the dropper, and laces each track with raunchy lead stamps conjure the Raw Power of James Williamson more so than Johnny Ramone – and he’s got a wah pedal, which is cool.
Knuckle Supper is a great, fun album for fans of The Dwarves, Gwar, and Teenage Bottlerocket. It’s chock-full of laughter, ninjas, radioactive lizards, and dead pedestrians, and you might even stumble upon some pretty solid pop punk (rock and roll).
The album is well-produced and easy on the ear drums – recorded and mixed at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, CO of Descendents/ALL fame. It features interesting artwork by Miggy Toons, which includes an ominous behemoth’s (Bullet Machine) tetrad-decapitation, evidenced in the quadruplicate bloody stumps, and the 4-piece band members’ heads allocated and shelved in preserving jars.
It asks more questions than it answers. Will Bullet Machine meet their doom at the hands of the creepy, brainy, torture-rack, doctor bone-saw guy? Does Bullet Machine survive the “Tokyo situation”? If the hefty, fast breakdown in “Too Many Godzillas” and the psychotic, catchy lyrics of “Death Race 2000” are any indication, then I think they’ll be alright. Stream the album on Spotify and Bandcamp.com. Pick up a copy and let me know what you think! Released: 2/22/19.