On paper, Teenage Time Killers sound like the most super of supergroups. The project was first conceived in February 2014 by My Ruin guitarist Mick Murphy and Corrosion Of Conformity drummer Read Mullin, drafting in Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Slipknot / Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor, Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe and whole shitload more, all while being named after an obscure EP track from ’80s anarcho-punk band Rudimentary Peni. Sounds good, right? Well, on paper it does. In reality the results are a bit different.
It’s certainly an apt album title, as it plays out just like a compilation album. The mammoth 20 tracks flit from punk to hardcore to metal depending on which of the huge ensemble cast takes up vocal duties for that song, meaning that, from front to back it all makes for a rather rocky listen. It doesn’t help that no song surpasses three minutes either, meaning it’s incredibly difficult to really get into many of the myriad of sounds, especially the shorter one-minute-and-change songs. That’s not the main problem sadly – what is, is that a lot of the songs just simply aren’t good. The main gripe is just how messy they are, presumably done to accurately emanate old recording styles, but it just doesn’t cut it in 2015. Time To Die (featuring Eyehategod’s Mike IX Williams) nails a lo-fi vibe but as a result sounds poorly recorded, while Hung Out To Dry (despite Randy Blythe’s impressively vicious vocal performance) feels terribly messy and doesn’t go very far at all. Meanwhile, Clutch’s Neil Fallon wades through layers of sludge on the plodding, dull-as-dishwater Crowned By The Light Of The Sun, and a rendition of John Cleese’s poem Ode To Sean Hannity by Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra is just an absolute shambles.
Amongst all this, there are moments on …Vol. 1 that do Teenage Time Killers’ pedigree justice. Barrio (featuring Matt Skiba) develops an enjoyable Ramones-y bounce, while Corey Taylor strikes gold (as per) on the delightfully playful Egobomb, and there’s an irresistible groove to Days Of Degradation, paired with an excellent vocal performance from Prong’s Tommy Victor. Despite this though, the quality moments are much less abundant than the weaker ones, and even with the best efforts, there are very few truly great moments. All this leaves …Vol. 1 massively unbalanced in the worst way, with only odd songs living up to almost unfeasibly high benchmark set by the pure-bloodedness of those involved.
Strangely though, despite the fact that …Vol. 1 isn’t great, it doesn’t actually feel that disappointing. At least, it shouldn’t if looked at from a realistic perspective – sure, many wanted it to be amazing, but how many people actually expected it to be? Such an ambitious project featuring such a huge number of legendary musicians would have had to have done something pretty special to have lived up to such a weighty expectation, but the fact that is doesn’t is really no surprise, and that’s really nothing to hold against them. Besides, there’s no collateral damage – while this album may not be a great introduction to the concept of Teenage Time Killers, it does no damage whatsoever to the reputations of any of the collaborators. At the end of the day, Teenage Time Killers does what it says on the tin – it’s a way of having some fun and doing something different between day jobs, and it’s rather naïve to expect anything more than that.
For fans of: Dead Kennedys, Poison Idea, Corrosion Of Conformity
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Greatest Hits: Vol. 1’ by Teenage Time Killers is released on 31st July on Rise Records.