To create this album Valerie, Danny, and Donnie of Sojii traveled to Chicago to record with Steve Albini of Big Black. What emerged was the soundtrack of the apocalypse.
Most people are preparing for the fast approaching apocalypse by collecting ammunition, burying gold bars and
collecting MRE rations, but not me. I am preparing for the inevitable end of times by building a playlist. Well, at least I WAS building a playlist until I realized there’s no better album to wander the wasted ruins of civilization with than Sojii’s self-titled debut.
Sojii, the Grand Rapids based power trio, makes music appropriate for a deathmatch in the Thunderdome. Their debut is nuclear, and West Michigan is likely to feel the fallout embedded in its DNA linger longer than ionized radiation. Expect to see generations of twisted mutants rise from the dust, shambling toward the next show, clutching this album long after society has collapsed.
“Henderson” opens like a concussion grenade. Then builds tension with smooth rhythms which roll through a twisted lyrical landscape of murderous intent. The lyrics revel in grisly imagery, laughing in the face of its most visceral details. All this drives toward Valerie’s haunting death rattles which curdle the blood and linger like nightmares.
“Pigpen” is a dirty fight, as messy as the title. A chaotic bullying composition which jabs and punches and pushes you down as it taunts and teases. The breakdown is cathartic and the outro is well earned.
“Adagio” is a dark prayer to a malicious god. It chants with ritual precision to its climax, and is genuinely frightening to experience live. The recording might be cursed, I can’t ever get through a play of the song without my lights flickering. Don’t listen to it in the dark by yourself.
“Schmuck” spins around a tribal bonfire in a whirling dance, out of control, always on the edge of disaster. It teeters close to the flame. It smells like ash and tastes like soot. It burns like hot coals at your feet. It concludes with a smokey breakdown, somber as a funeral pyre, building to a final suicidal leap into the flames.
“Dowry Death” is confrontational and complex. Sliding smoothly between furiously in-your-face and hazily, dissociated. The eyes roll back as the noise fades into one of my favorite instrumental sections on the album. Here Sojii really flexes their technical proficiency and shows they could create harmonious sounds, they just don’t feel like it.
“Milksop” is my favorite on the record, second maybe to Adagio. Certainly the least experimental, on what is quite a noisy, ambitious record. But it is exactly the clean simple structure of this song that resonates with me. If Sojii were just another punk act, this is what their whole record would sound like, and while I would still like that, I’m glad it doesn’t.
“Fromme” leaves with a strong impression of what Sojii’s favorite songwriting elements are: driving, violent rhythms, varied sections, strange song structure, and repeated elements all building toward a cathartic breakdown or outtro. Sojii’s songwriting captures a typhoon of chaotic emotion, taking you from manic to depressive in a single verse. Sojii wants to give its listeners an adrenaline rush stronger than a near death experience. Sojii wants listeners who after that rush come looking for the next thrill.
Sojii isn’t post-punk, because post-punk clings to regurgitated convention. Post punk is a rehashing of old ideas, applying aging aesthetics to current conventions. Sojii is post-apocalyptic. Think less music for angry teens, more sonic beatdown initiation into a band of tribal raiders. Grab your copy of their debut online before the bombs drop, you’ll need it.