The Fall

Hex Enduction Hour

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The Fall already had a slew of brilliant records under their belt by the time Hex Enduction Hour emerged, but when it did, the result was a bona fide classic on all fronts. Honing the vicious edge of his lyrics to a new level of ability, Smith led his by-now seasoned band -- at this time sporting the double-drumming lineup of Paul Hanley and Karl Burns -- to create a literal hour's worth of entertaining bile. The Marc Riley/Craig Scanlon team had even more of a clattering, industrial edge than before, now inventing its own style of riff and melody that any number of later groups would borrow, with varying degrees of success. "Iceland" itself tips its hat toward where part of the album was recorded, and it's little surprise that the Sugarcubes and any number of contemporaneous bands from that country ended up with a deep Fall fetish. Of the many song highlights, perhaps the most notorious was the opening "The Classical," an art rock groove like no other, racketing around with heavy-duty beats and stabbing bass from Steve Hanley. Apparently, the band was on the verge of signing with Motown, at least until they heard Smith delivering the poisonous line, "Where are the obligatory niggers?/Hey there, f*ckface!" Politically correct or not, it set the tone for the misanthropic assault of the entire album, including the hilarious dressing down of "misunderstood" rock critics, "Hip Priest" ("He...is...not...ap-PRE-ciated!") and the targeting-everyone attack "Who Makes the Nazis?" Musically, all kinds of approaches are assayed and the results are a triumph throughout, from "Hip Priest" and its tense exchange between slow, dark mood and sudden guitar bursts to the motorik drone touch of "Fortress/Deer Park." As a concluding anti-anthem, "And This Day" ranks up with "The N.W.R.A.," ten minutes of ramalama genius.

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