Album Reviews

KASMs – Spayed

(Trouble) UK release date: 11 May 2009


KASMs are a frightening listen. And as they doff their witches hat to the current tradition of coining new genres (or, if you’re more cynical, renaming something that’s already been done) in a desperate bid to be unique, KASMs have christened their demonic output “shriekbeat”.

Not that KASMs have a problem sounding unique – their razor sharp gothic punk is tangibly disturbing in its feral fierceness, and broils like some vampiric soundtrack to the undead. Their music is imbued with a blisteringly dark energy that is both a little bit scary and unrivalled by any contemporary band. Think Siouxsie And The Banshees‘ evil daughter slaying The Horrors circa 2007. In an eerie graveyard. At night. In a thunderstorm.

Counting ex-Test Icicles man Rory Bratwell among their ranks, KASMs are a four-piece from London. 2009 has seen music hacks frothing at the mouth with words of their live performances which see the band’s maniacal concoctions sordidly portrayed by their writhing, possessed, audience-attacking pocket-sized frontwoman, Rachel Mary Callaghan. Such histrionics have given KASMs notoriety and doubtless bolstered anticipation for this, their debut album.

Album opener, Male Bonding, sees KASMs introduce the cold-blooded and haunting veneer with which they smear their indie art-rock and is one of several highlights which also include the brutish rhythm of KRIH; the chilling guitar and funk-noir of Don’t Hit The Bottom; and the zombified swagger of Siren Sister. But the ace of Spayed’s hand is undoubtedly Taxidermy – where a blood curdling guitar riff and inventive rhythms perfect the harrowing backdrop for Callaghan to spew her brain-mangled vitriol.

But while their live show is mind-alteringly brilliant and infectious, their scything guitar lines and brutal delivery, not to mention the edgy atmosphere they impart, do not translate so well to record. At times it seems as if KASMs are concentrating too hard on the demonic mantra they’ve lain out for themselves, and end up losing focus on things like hooks. The subsequent atonal and discordant frenzy is hard to latch onto, and Spayed at times suffers from sounding too abstract.

In that sense, Spayed is a very proggy, conceptual album that is more about showcasing their stoically individual songwriting ideologies than making a load of FM-friendly hits. It won’t be a mainstream success, but neither does it try to be. KASMs’ creativity is admirable and refreshing, their talent inspiring. And while it might scare the shit out of you, KASMs deserve your attention, and command your respect.


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