Ten Benson

Benson Burner

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One of the pioneers of the U.K.'s sudden trend of embracing and exalting low-brow rock and metal, Ten Benson's stateside debut, Benson Burner, offers newly recorded versions of highlights from their previous albums, Hiss and Satan Kidney Pie. Much like the Darkness and to a lesser extent Andrew W.K., Ten Benson resurrects the seedier side of hard rock and heavy metal with so much fervor that whether or not they're doing so ironically becomes a moot point. However, Ten Benson rocks a little harder and heavier than those other artists, soldering together lumbering metal and Southern rock with warped lyrics about robots, sex, and Christmas. Their more straightforward songs, like "Dark Forces" and "One Way Ticket," are authentically sludgy and sleazy, but not as interesting as when they veer from the well-worn paths of their influences into the backwoods of their sound. On "Tits," they caricature metal's horndog tendencies by not just giving the song that name, but also by making its chorus a shouted refrain -- with an echo for extra emphasis -- that might as well be in all capital letters. Elephantine songs like "The Loozin' Line" and "Rock Cottage" prove that Ten Benson have a kind of genius for writing idiotically catchy songs, while two of the band's older singles, "I Don't Buy It" and "Black Christmas," provide some of Benson Burner's best moments. "I Don't Buy It" is both the band's poppiest song and one of its most political, with singer Chris Teckkam sneering about the false promises of consumer products over chugging guitars. On "Black Christmas," Teckkam crows about a Yuletide apocalypse with glee: "There were no church bells ringing/There were no children singing/Just a creepy snowman all alone." Ten Benson's stranger songs showcase Teckkam's one-of-a-kind voice -- which sounds kind of like a goat that has learned to speak English with a drunken Southern accent -- and his stance as a cranky eccentric. "At least I'm nobody's wife," he snarls on the song of the same name, while "Oh General" casts him as the footsoldier of a ratings-hungry military man and "Robot Tourist"'s dual, distorted vocals recall the cough-syrup haze of early Ween. As both the band's first assault on America and their best-of album, Benson Burner gives a good overview of Ten Benson's sound. It's undeniably silly, but it's also likely to win over anyone with an affection for metal's showier extremes or generally quirky music.

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