reviews of the moment
— Diabolik Sonik Malamondos drummer Jaysen Buterin, AKA Max
Diablo, noted in an interview last year prior to the release of their latest album Diabolik Sonik that the band had hit upon what was missing from their previous, self-produced album: a producer. One comes to expect that kind of camp to seethe from the pores of the Greensboro surfabilly quintet who draw their influence from late-night marathons of B-movies as much as they do the music of Dick Dale and Wanda Jackson. But with the recruitment of Speedball Baby and Heavy Trash drummer Matt Verta-Ray to steer the production ship, Diabolik Sonik is disciplined and rocking, with just enough menace to keep the camp in check. Finger snaps, a walking bassline and the Dirtbombs’ Mick Collins bookend Diabolik Sonik with vintage Russ Meyer fustian as the group channel a sort of Man or Astro-man? aesthetic with a mondo femme bent. At 17 tracks, there’s a lot of material to wade through and not all of it falls in line with that direction, but it’s all impetuous and rude to its core. Opener “Hellcat High School” is a play on the title of the 1958 film with just as much attitude, while “Right On Time” struts with the wanton coolness of Kowalski in Vanishing Point. Given Verta-Ray’s influence, it’s a given that instrumentals play a key role. Sinister harmonica by Col. JD Wilkes of the Legendary Shack Shakers turns the group’s cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” into a veiled threat rather than a woebegone plea, while Dexter Romweber gnashes his teeth on “Squabble.” Diabolik Sonik might have been better off as an album and an EP, but this is a band straight out of the Russ Meyer School. It’s better to go big or don’t go at all.
The Malamondos will support Southern Culture On the Skids at the Blind Tiger this Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day.
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