Gladiators Eat Fire
For their new self-titled release, local hardcore band Gladiators Eat Fire took a turn for the creepy—injecting the straight-ahead, blistering rock heard on their previous EP with a heavy dose of psychedelic guitars and eerie, echoing vocals that ring through songs like lost souls. “Kid, I’m Johnny Fucking Appleseed” intros with low and slow buzzing bass. Nervous drumming kicks in, adding speed, and after the guitar weaves a maze of ethereal feedback, it starts to thump like a panicked heartbeat until the song stops for one second, and everyone starts screaming and the whole thing implodes. “Wasabi, You Handsome Devil,” doesn’t end well, either. After some sonic freak-outs of These Arms Are Snakes proportions, the nearly-seven-minute-long song ends with more than a minute of crashing cymbals and distanced howling. Such structural experimentation isn’t that surprising coming from the band that last year randomly hung spray-painted VHS tapes in trees all over Capitol Hill. Anyone brave enough to untie the twine and take a tape home got an eyeful of ghostly figures passing through the shadows while pieces of the band’s songs supplied a perfectly haunting soundtrack. Even without the images, the goose bumps come organically from this full-length’s walls of wiry guitars and repetitive, hollowed, distant vocals that sound like they’re sung by a person who’s been locked alone in the room at the end of a long hall for years. Pretty much all you can do after hearing this shit is pray that a little dead girl doesn’t come through the speakers to drag you to the bottom of a goddamn well.