donderdag 27 april 2023

Ruff Majik – Elektrik Ram



Ruff Majik – Elektrik Ram
Mongrel Records – 2023
Rock, Stoner, Garage, Punk
Rated: *****

The Devil is in the details. And of course, in whatever your regular poison might be. Combine the two for a lengthy period of time and the world will spin away from under you and at the bottom of the bottom of the bottomless pit, you will have to pay your dues. But you will, if you remember any of it, have those details. And those, when you are guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday from the Ruff Majik foursome, can become pure gold and the way out of that dark and dirty ditch…

It might speak volumes about my mental health, or how I liked to dance on that tightrope high above the insanity abyss for quite some time. And yes from time to time, and not as often as it used to, it might still happen. But I got things under control, for the most part. Almost entirely. And we think Mr. Holiday has as well. But there are certain albums that immediately feel part of my every fiber due to a certain manic edge it might have. There aren’t that many though that strike that chord immediately and from the very first instance you hear it. The last few albums that really sparked that hyper craziness inside of me, were Blood & Fire by Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and yesteryears Black Space Riders album We Have Been Here Before. Well, the new Elektrik Ram album by South African quartet Ruff Majik has it in spades, hearts, clubs, diamonds and more. And you will feel that psychotic energy, and ADHD poetry from those first moments when opening track Hillbilly Fight Song starts. Restless and like an absolute battering ram it bursts through the door and knocks it clean of its hinges. And Hillbilly Fight Song makes it feel even more like they made this album especially for me because of the simple fact that they did not use this brilliant opening track as a single. Cause yeah, I bothered you all before with my thoughts about this, but I always feel the opening track should be a total surprise. That opening sample, that guitar revving up, and then the smash ‘n grab blast off, so hungry, so thirsty… And fearless! Hillbilly Fight Song takes no prisoners and gives absolutely no fuck about the mess it leaves behind as it barrels through your life… 


And then they top it off with single, and second track She’s Still A Goth. Simple in delivery and even in lyrics, but you don’t mind, because they fit so perfectly, and you will be in love with the imagery before you know it. That apparent simplicity is probably its brilliance, ‘You got a Bella Lugosi shirt, you don’t mind a little dirt…’  and ‘Your favorite poet is Edgar Allan, You drink red wine by the gallon…’ Are pure adoration for rhymes and the woman it is meant for. The same thing happens with the following Mourning Wood, a road song, off to get your rocks off, sauntering down the streets looking for the next party to wreck. Fire in the nuts! Rave To The Grave, is that rave and punk inspired rock song, which turns blatantly poppy and catchy, in part thanks to the handclaps, and you really did not see it coming. That such a rough, dance punk song could turn out to be that addictive, attractive and appealing. You are four songs in, the manic, hyper energy only let up during Mourning Wood, to be replaced by some lurid swagger. But everywhere else it’s been this amazing speeding and bouncing force...

Delirium Tremors stops the energizing bunny dead in its tracks for forty seconds with a humorous skit before it gets wild and all over the place again. Which fits perfectly with the subject of the song. Which hits hard. Home. So much of this record, or all of this record, hits a homerun, yes, it really hits home. Not necessarily a fun homecoming. Those manic episodes, going off the rails entirely, where the great lady that bears witness and worries and finds you on the floor, where she, steaming with anger, asks if you had enough and then you go and answer her slurring and sly, I’ll have one more. It’s all coming back. Those weeks of no sleep, only drinks and wild times, and then crashing, having those deliriums, thinking some of it might have actually happened during those weeks, that yes, that girl you knew got molested by a Poodle and you were doing shots in an extremely filthy pool at 5 in the morning with a buddy that seemed to be floating above all that muck with a bunch of balloons. Strange memories on this sunny afternoon, while finishing a review about a wild and wonderful album. And none of those weird and twisted nights might have actually happened. Indeed, they never really happened anyway…

Cement Brain takes the tempo down and the delirious sounds further up; and we get to accelerate again once title track Elektrik Ram hits. Brilliance in its pure and fast paced delivery. Queen Of The Gorgons continues this velocity, but with a bigger groove and less delirium. A Song About Drugs (With A Clever Title) and Shangrilah Inc, give you the feeling you are working up to a different kind of ending. Both songs have this breaking tempo, this pause and action kind of tension. Keeping you on the edge of your seat or worn-down couch, where the lukewarm beer never tasted finer. And then that real ending of the album comes on with Chemically Humanized, a beautiful cry, a howl towards an endless horizon with some impressive lyrics. “I tried to steal the Devil’s note, I even borrowed David’s chord, but all the poetry I wrote, never seemed to please the Lord.” Fuck man, I wish I were dead now, because I did not write those four lines. But seriously, will this album, Elektrik Ram, hit everyone as hard as it did me. Perhaps not. It definitely deserves to. But I’m sure that was never the goal to begin with. This feels like the outpouring of a lost soul. Of a life reclaimed, of inspiration reclaimed and fulfilled with minute details. None of them out of place. And all of them really happened…

(Written by JK)





Mongrel Records

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