His Electro Blue Voice

Ruthless Sperm

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It's one of the blunter album titles around, but in its own way, Ruthless Sperm is a perfect description of the music (barely) contained on His Electro Blue Voice's debut album. The genre-defying Italian trio make songs that are propulsive and seeking contact, and go in lots of different directions, upping the intensity several notches from their singles and EPs, and tracks like the breathtaking squall of an album opener that is "Death Climb" leave chunks of punk, industrial, and shoegaze in their wake. His Electro Blue Voice love extremes, and on Ruthless Sperm they serve up either tantalizingly brief songs or vast ones. "Sea Bug" is one of their most explosively beautiful outbursts, with Francesco Mariani's fiery vocals pitted against an undertow of jangly guitars in a way that recalls …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's mix of rage and beauty. Meanwhile, the eight-minute "Spit Dirt" begins with solos so punishing that it's easy to imagine the band pushing their amps up against listeners' ears, then reboots as an interstellar lockgroove that feels like it ends up miles away from where it started. The band's fondness for weird synth sounds add another, occasionally surreal, dimension to their music, particularly on songs like "The Path," where glistening electronics overlay the rough-edged guitars and drums in a strange but effective clash that throws sparks. Not everything on Ruthless Sperm is so complicated: "Tumor" is one of the more successful grunge throwbacks of the early 2010s. While not everything connects, if it was all as ruthless as the most intense moments, it might be too much. Nevertheless, Ruthless Sperm is almost always intriguing; it delivers a portrait of an equally compounding and compelling band as well as one of one of the wilder rides any album offered in 2013.

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