The "version" of Painkiller John Zorn assembled for this performance in his month-long 50th birthday celebration at Tonic included Bill Laswell from the original incarnation and drummer Hamid Drake as well as vocalist Mike Patton. While Patton is no Yamantaka Eye, Drake is far more compelling as a drummer than Mick Harris. The insert on the set correctly claims that this unit is something completely different. Not only does this band play a less free version of jazz, punk, and rock, it also plays free of many of the dub trappings it had engaged in an earlier incarnation. This is a deeply groove-oriented set of vanguard funk, jazz, and rock. There are three tracks here, and all of them are driven by the bedrock of Laswell's dirty funk playing and Drake's propulsive kit work. Zorn is out front playing snake-wise, melding everything from hard bop, free jazz, soul-oriented groove lines, and his own unclassifiable sonic palette. Patton's vocals are heavily treated yowls and screams combined with rhythmic breath work and moans. Tape delays are employed here as well, making the entire set a compelling, singular workout that is exciting, harsh, intense, and compelling.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek