Venom P. Stinger

1986-1991

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Australia's Venom P. Stinger grew out of a small underground scene in Melbourne. Guitarist Mick Turner (Moodists, Fungus Brains, Sick Things) and vocalist Dugald McKenzie (Sick Things) joined bassist Alan Secher-Jensen and drummer Jim White (Feral Dinosaurs, People with Chairs Stuffed Up Their Noses), to form one of the most unique, punishing, and (unintentionally) innovative bands ever inspired by punk rock. Of course Turner and White would later form Dirty Three with Warren Ellis, but don’t look for that band's roots here. Drag City's two-disc 1986-1991 contains the original band's debut full-length, Meet My Friend Venom, and the "Walking About"/"26 Mg" single. Disc two presents singer Nick Palmer in McKenzie's role. This incarnation recorded the full-length, What's Yours Is Mine and the Waiting Room 12" EP. On "P.C.P. Crazy/Jaws," White's drumming, already fully formed, is frenetic; he double- and triple-times the bassist and Turner in militaristic fashion with explosive snares and pummeling kick drum, slipping the frame and moving on into improvisation. Back then, Turner was playing his own version of angular slash-and-burn rockabilly and sharp-fanged, twisted blues. On this cut he uses the two-note vamp from the Jaws theme as a jumping-off point to careen across the bassline's changes with shambolic riffs and razor-wire single lines. Secher-Jensen tries to ground it all, but McKenzie's drunken howl, growl, and wail push it into the red. "Walking About" commences with white heat martial snare and kick drum -- the tempo is staggering (metal blastbeat drummers have nothing on White) -- forcing McKenzie to enter at full-tilt jabber. Turner's attack combines single-line runs, riffs, and drone strings in a feedback wail. The startling stops and starts in the arrangement throw the listener off before Venom's off and racing again. The material on disc two is a bit less hyper; song structures seem more conventional but are more infused with post-punk's experimentalism to compensate, and never lose their sheer power. "The Quiet One" is anything but. Its droning, ringing guitars, played to an off-kilter time signature from White, speed up a droning riff inspired by the eastern modal tinges in the Velvets' "Venus in Furs," but are more intense, chaotic, and sinister. "Impressions" is so off the rails that if it weren't for White's rhythmic command, it would collapse. But then there is the barbed-wire attempt at country in "Lethargy" that's so overheated, it barely holds itself together. That said, the band push at the margins repeatedly, daring the sonic whirlwind to consume them. "What's Yours Is Mine" is off-minor, evil, mutant rockabilly, with White's skittering shuffle, and Turner's screaming slide guitar conjuring the maelstrom à la the Gun Club at its best, but charges far beyond that. Venom P. Stinger's 1986-1991 proves two things: that this band was unlike any other before or since, and that sometimes the term "too much of a good thing" is meaningless.

blue highlight denotes track pick