COURAGE RIOT – Konqistador (Arts Victoria)
Ever since a kid on my block named Joey Alesandrini made me do bong hits and listen to Alice Cooper’s “Pretties For You” back in junior high school, I’ve held a special place in my heart for not only the great man himself, but other musos unafraid to explore their feminine sides with a spot of rouge or frilly undergarment. Judging from the photos of Konqistador in the CD booklet that accompanies “Courage Riot,” they’re not adverse to the occasional dab of runny mascara and machine shop kabuki themselves, but forget about anything that’s not black and/or leather.

For a band which splits its time between Australia and Detroit, it should come as no surprise that “Courage Riot” is littered with big burning piles of evil chemical noises, but if you stutter trying to get the words “electronic,” “industrial,” or “synth” past your lips, you may do well to duck out for a beer and a cigarette. Now.

Lizzy Ray and Reggie Ray, here on a brief runner from Melbourne-based 72 Blues, have teamed with rustbucket, 313-area code resident D.A. Chow for a grinding, marauding, soot-smeared diamond in the rough, a relentless parade of doom riffs whose blood courses strongly through veins of metal, like a charmed Nine Inch Nails minus most of the angst, Killing Joke minus the vocal nodules, or mebbe a crankier Cult with a megaphone and a touch of avant weirdness.

There’s an Eastern overtone to much of “Courage Riot,” due in no small part to Lizzy’s multi-lingual vocals on “Toro Montenegro,” “Un Cercle Justifie,” and “Camelot,” conjuring up nightmares of Lene Lovich and Yoko Ono before being buried by a quiltwork of dense, Zeppelinesque racket which surprisingly drops most goth pretensions, surrenders to the vibe, and pays full homage to groove first.

“Black As Hell,” “Namaz 476,” and “Evil Gotten Evil Spent” all stomp and strut with a certain sinister menace, wrapped in fiberglass, seething and
surging into overdrive, Chow putting his head down and bringing an unforgiving and caustic six-string locust plague onto the heads of non-believers everywhere. And while any cover of “Ballad Of Dwight Frye” is doomed to pale when stood nose to nose with Cooper’s deranged original, Konqistador manage to bring enough dementia to it that you’ll be swatting away the spiders crawling out of those holes in your hands.
- Clark Paull