There's logic in this meeting of Doom and Punk
Caveman Logic – The Limit (Svart Records)
Trust me on this if you haven’t heard the evidence first-hand: Sonny Vincent’s music punches harder than just about anyone else in the same space.
When those histories of New York punk are written, he and his late-’70s band Testors are never mentioned. Testors didn’t play well with others, in the “industry” sense, and never climbed off the lower rungs of the Max’s-CBGB ladder. History gets written by the few and it’s the way that Vincent has kept the torch of dirty, street-level, rock and roll burning since that really deserves credit.
For 40 years, Sonny’s been punk rock’s ultimate networker, working with members of The Damned, the Stooges, MC5, the Velvet Underground, The Replacements, Dead Boys and too many more to count, always with a vision that’s equal parts visceral power and lingering melody.
Sonny’s life was changed in 2016 by a family tragedy which makes his re-emergence as a member of uber-underground outfit The Limit all the more remarkable.
The Limit is vocalist Bobby Liebling (co-founder of American ‘70s doom rockers Pentagram), Sonny Vincent (guitar and production), onetime member of the Stooges and Ron Asheton’s New Order, Jimmy Recca, on bass, and guitarist Hugo Conim and drummer Joao Pedro Ventura, both from ultra heavy Portugese band Dawnrider.
At first blush, Doom Rock meets Punk Rock seems an incongruous proposition. The collision was not contrived and the three Americans had never met in person before boarding a flight to record in Portugal. The songs had been sketched out in isolation. The plan was to turn up at the studio, launch into recording and see what comes out at the other end.
By all accounts, the melding of ideas in the studio was a fraught process. At the end of a 34-hour flight for the US contingent, heads were butted till they were bloody and bruised, but nobody left to go home early. In the end, all that tension paid off.
The music for 10 of the 12 songs was by Vincent with Liebling contributing most of the lyrics, Conim was responsible for the balance. Sonny takes lead vocal on just one, the typically urgent “Human vs Nature”. The songs are all new with the exception of “Black Sea”, a Vincent cut from 2015’s “Psycho Serenades” album that’s reprised here in hard rock form.
“Caveman Logic” certainly sounds much different to all other Sonny Vincent records. For one, the production sounds huge, with a good degree of separation between the guitars and lots of attention has been paid to the bottom end. The record is heavy and hard with a touch of metal in both the mix and some of the guitar stylings.
Liebling’s withering vocal is the real deal and conveys the mad-eyed presence the man is said to exude live. Recca and Ventura make a fine engine room, with the former’s fluidity and full tone a joy to hear on something other than a demo or a muddy live tape. Conim’s soloing is in marked contrast to Vincent’s customary razor-riffing and, more often than not, it works.
The crunching riffing of the gloomy “Over Rover” kicks off the record in resounding style and it’s a diverse trip from then on. Liebling sounds like a redneck looking over his shoulder on “When Life Gets Scorched”. The indignant “Sir Lancelot” takles aim at musical equipment heads and has an earthy, garage feel laced with metallic trilling. There’s the feeling of walls closing in on the proggy “Death Of My Soul”, and a real swing to “Enough’s Enough”.
The title track is a meeting of guitar flash and primitivism and Liebling's off-the-wall vocal provides the convincing icing on the cake.
“Kitty Gone” is a scorching high-point, with an inspired Liebling vocal and guest guitarists Paul Simmons (Bevis Frond) and Fabian Dee Dammers (The Treatment, UIDO) contributing rhythm and numerous fills and solos, respectively. It shudders with raw energy. "Human vs Nature" is on equal footing, an aural billy club propelled by jagged guitars that'll leave you dazed.
It's available on LP and CD but don't die waitring for it to land in your local record store - if you're lucky enough to still have one. You can grab a download at the label's Bandcamp or physical copies here.