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Death Ride 69 [reviews]
Screaming Down The Gravity Well |Fifth Colvmn Records, 1996|

1. First Contact, 2. Needle, 3. Fucked Up Generation, 4. Penetrator, 5. MK Ultra, 6. Digital Submission, 7. Screaming Down The Gravity Well, 8. The Razor Girl Machine, 9. sinister Fetish, 10. Super Hot Sister, 11. I, Virus, 12. Elvis Christ: The Resurrection, 13. Long Dirty Needle, 69. Sisela Etahi

Death Ride 69 made their debut in 1988 publishing "The LP!" (reissued the next year on CD under the title "The C.D."), an eccentric Gothic-Blues Rock album or as described by them: "Industrial-Rock Shop", which barely leaves a mark despite the good ideas, sounding too flat.
The members of their pre-1990 line-up were Dave Haas, Don Diego (passed away in 1996), Ethan Port, Wrex Mock and Linda LeSabre (aka "Beat Mistress", best known for her involvement in the mid 90s with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult as a percussionist in the Hit & Run Holiday Tour).
To get an idea of their sound you just need to go to Ethan Port’s official website, where you can listen the EP “Red Sea”, one of their most inspired work of that period.

Shortly after this EP, they wrote the album "Penetrator", which is still unpublished. After this beginning they took different paths, and the only member that brought the band back to life was Linda LeSabre, this time paired with an excellent musician: Mark Blasquez.

The duo released "Screaming Down The Gravity Weel" for Fifth Colvmn Records in 1996 and seeing that the tracklist includes a song called "Penetrator" (co-written with Buck McGibbony) I believe this album could include some songs from the previous unreleased album, but this is only my guess without foundation. The promotional sticker on the jewel case says: "Thrill Kill Kult side project" but I believe that Fifth Colvmn has used this advertisement only to exploit the TKK fame.

The style of the previous sound continues to echo in the new songs, but the contribution of Blasquez significantly raises the quality of composition and the production skill of Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy (TKK) puts the warranty seal.

The sound reflects in a big way what was offered by Fifth Colvmn in the mid 90s by bands such as Acumen, Chemlab and Insight 23; The first 5 tracks are dynamic and full of energy, the tracklist has a crescendo of harsh guitars, distortions and hammering drums directed by the high and charismatic voice of Linda, exploding in the best track of the album "MK Ultra" (acronym for a project developed by the CIA in the 50’s implemented to mind control, and never so popular like in the recent years, seen as they are frying our brain).

As in the good tradition of American Coldwave, there’s a prominent use of electronics which gives an eclectic vibe, ranging in different music styles, never boring, except for some sudden lessening in adrenalin. This is evident after the 5th track where we have a fairly abrupt change, from "Digital Submission" onwards the album takes another turn, the beat slows down (with the exception of the title track) so much so that in "Super Hot Sister 69" we hear a good Industrial-Funk song (similar to Die Warzau and TKK). This does not mean that the quality is lower, just a change of pace in the rhythm.

At the end of the album "I, Virus" brings the attention back to the Blasquez driven guitars, with the intensity of hymns like "Rivet Head" by Chemlab while "Elvis Christ: Resurrection" is a tribute/reinterpretation of an old song released in their previous album "The C.D.", however, this version is more successful and shows affinity with the TKK fellows; "Long Dirty Needle", as obviously foreshadows the title, is an extended version of "Needle".
There is also a hidden track, clearly the n° 69 ;) "Sisela Etah", a sophisticated Avant-Garde interpretation.

"Screaming Down The Gravity Well" was also reissued by Invisible Records in 1999 with these unimportant extra tracks called The Interstellar Mixes: "Big Penetrator (Forced Entry Mix)", the only satisfactory remix of the lot, "Fucked Out Generation (Save The Robots Mix)", which isn’t anything special, since it is almost identical to the original; But to say the least, this isn't a new remix! It was already published on the Fifth Colvmn compilation "Fascist Communist Revolutionaries" with a different name: "Fucked Up Generation (Fuck-N-Suck-Gen)".

The other two bonus tracks are "Anomaly", very similar to the noisy ending section of "Born To Breathe" by Front 242 (one of their heavier songs, available on "Angels Versus Animals"), and the hidden track, always at n° 69, "Financially Catastrophic Results", & two brief interludes, written by Beat Mistress and DJ Hothead, that were placed at the end of the album but have little effect. These songs would probably have been better suited if distributed more correctly between other songs, giving more assertion and possibly a different meaning.
After this, the appearances of Death Ride 69 can be counted on the fingers of one hand: a couple of questionable covers of Skinny Puppy and Ministry, as well as a couple of remixes and nothing more.

I've lost track of Beat Mistress in the last few years, and I hope to see her again in the music business because she’s a truly original musician. Mark Blasquez has begun since the end of the 90’s a fruitful collaboration with Chris Vrenna (on Tweaker and in the excellent American McGee Alice Soundtrack), with Lore and has recently published a valuable album under the pseudonym of Crush.

"Screaming Down The Gravity Well" is a very good album by an underrated and forgotten band, taking little effort to capture the attention of listeners willingly.

(Marco Gariboldi, 03/14/10. Proofreading: Scott M. Owens)

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