If every band has its cliché, Spiderbait's says "they must be seen to be appreciated." Indeed, the band's early notoriety stemmed largely from its live shows, which were renowned for their manic energy and cyclonic rhythms that could whip the audience into a dizzying frenzy. Or so we're told. For those who missed out, there is ShaShaVaGlava. This LP, Spiderbait's first, attempts to re-create the intensity of a concert by cranking the noise up to 11 and keeping it there. But this doesn't work. While a live show succeeds more often through bluntness than nuance, listening to the same thing at home is just -- agitating. It sounds loud even on mute. The drums hammer fast and monotonously like a powwow on speed. The overly distorted guitars irritate with a thudding static that is rhythmic but barely musical. Even the album's lighter and brassier songs, such as "Bergerac" and "Ol' Man Sam," sound jarring, insinuating, and half-baked. Granted, a few exceptions stand forth from the din. "7 Zark 7," "Word I Said," and "Boys at the Beak" have tight and compelling but brief instrumental sequences that break the monotony, and "Footy" astounds because it has everything the other songs lack: a tune, sensible lyrics, and Janet English on vocals. But a few good riffs and one or two listenable songs are not enough. ShaShaVaGlava's thrashing and pounding may be meant to energize, but in the end, only enervates. If you want intensity, forget this album and remember the cliché. And see Spiderbait live.
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AllMusic Review by David Colon