Immaculada High

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Immaculada High Review

by Fred Thomas

Austin trio Cherubs had one of the more perfect legacies for an early-'90s noise rock band. Formed at the start of the decade, they made aggressive and churning sounds in line with peers like Butthole Surfers and the Jesus Lizard for an incredibly brief window. Before the release of their second album, 1994's caustic and red-lined Heroin Man, the band broke up when two of its members got into a fistfight after a gig. Heroin Man (a departure from their early style into far more tormented fuzz) would go on to be regarded as a masterpiece as the years passed, a document of the band's brightly burning short fuse. An unlikely new chapter in the Cherubs' legacy emerged when the band reunited in 2014, offering third album 2 Ynfynyty as if no time had passed to mellow their sonic demolition. Immaculada High continues the Cherubs' unrelenting path, blasting out 11 new songs coated in the distinctive overblown fuzz that helped give their mid-'90s output such impact. Along with the squelching production, Kevin Whitley's signature vocal wails are in top form, hitting an urgent high-pitched mania on "18 the Number" and settling into a more uneasy middle register on the slow-boiling sludge rocker "Sooey Pig." Between the guttural noise rock of the early-'90s Amphetamine Reptile roster and a more updated take on wall-of-distortion riffing in line with bands like Preoccupations or Metz, songs like "Tigers in the Sky" and "Full Regalia" slow down the tempo without losing any intensity. These moments are where Immaculada High simmers with tension, threatening to boil over at any second. The album closes with the extended feedback fest of "Nobodies," punctuating the wild-eyed energy that runs throughout the rest of the songs with swirling, melting vocal harmonies and outbursts of electronic noise. Firmly rooted in Cherubs' early-'90s bombastic noise rock pedigree, Immaculada High still manages to take huge steps forward in terms of style and a more detailed articulation of the band's sonic terror.

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