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Review: Teenage Strange, Male Bondage split cassette

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Teenage Strange/Male Bondage Split Cassette
GloryHole Records, Drink or Die Records, Perpetual Bullshit

Hope you like it heavy, Indy.

This February, Jared Birden and his doom-ridden rock and roll outfit Teenage Strange will be hitting the road with Indy sludge rock buds Male Bondage for several shows throughout the Midwest and Northeast. Over the past year, it seems the two groups have embraced their mutual love for dark and dingy rock music, often playing shows together at venues that cater to a similar vibe. No exception for Wednesday's tour kick-off at The Melody Inn, where they will be joined by The Icks (Fountain Square) and No Coast (Kokomo) for what should be a fantastic night of Indiana rock 'n' roll goodness.

Along with the tour, Teenage Strange and Male Bondage are releasing a split cassette through GloryHole Records/Drink or Die Records/Perpetual Bullshit, showcasing their mastery of thick, hazed-out songwriting.

With very few releases to date, the two songs on this release live up to the Sabbath-esque doom rock that the band had showcased time and time again at their live shows. In fact, having seen the band many times in the past year, I immediately recognized the two songs featured on this cassette.

"Green Funeral" gets the release off to an appropriately badass start, with Birden (formerly of Fountain Square garage rock trio The Kemps) crunching away on a thick guitar riff that reeks of weed. Paying homage to Black Sabbath with the song title (referencing "Electric Funeral" from Black Sabbath's 1971 Paranoid release), the tune's simple, head-bang-inducing rhythm and patterns would surely make Tony Iommi smile. The group's second song on the cassette, "Space Venture," opens with a droning rhythm, dragging the listener along until Birden again begins to rip away around the 1:50 mark. This pattern repeats twice more, with the final ascendency turning out to be the highlight of Side A, as Birden once again channels his inner Iommi with one more fantastic piece of heavy riffage.

Despite the release of 2013's Love Moon on the same trio of labels as the cassette release, I was still very much anticipating the latest release from Male Bondage. Of course, I wasn't disappointed.

Side B serves up another fresh batch of "post-toke adventure sludge," in the form of three very solid tunes. Formerly of Kokomo's The Sorely Trying Days, Male Bondage lead vocalist Adam Jones is no stranger to living up to high expectations. On "Raunch Slab," the Bondage boys get Side B off to a droney, dragging start (similar to Birden's antics on "Space Ventura"). However, the band quickly picks up the pace, ripping into series of thrashing up-tempo snippets and gnarly sludge breakdowns. The final breakdown on "Raunch Slab" turns into "Stress Cavity," which features more sludgy goodness, with a slightly more melancholy tone than the previous song, along with a shred-packed conclusion. Like Side A, Side B closes with best song of the bunch. After a series of driving scuzz attacks, the song concludes in a gnarly ascent to Shredtown USA, putting a great cap on this very solid Indianapolis release.

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