John Frum Tears the MilkBoy to Pieces, and Puts Everyone in a Psychedelic Nightmare Trance
by George Fenton
About a year ago, former and current members of The Dillinger Escape Plan (Liam Wilson), The Faceless (Dereky Rydquist), John Zorn/Cleric (Matt Hollenberg), and Knife the Glitter (Eli Litwin) released a record under the name of John Frum. The band has self-described their music as “psychedelic death metal” and there probably couldn’t be a more accurate description as their debut, A Stirring in the Noos, swirls together grind, slug, prog, and doom elements. The music brings the listener into some sort of schizophrenic nightmare caught in an episode of The Twilight Zone-- pretty great stuff if you ask me. The project itself has been in formation for over half a decade, and only just started playing shows in the past year. Last Wednesday I was fortunate enough to catch them headlining a show at The Milk Boy in center city. It’s been rather difficult to try and catch them live as this was only the fourth show the band has played in their whole existence, but holy shit was it worth the wait.
Adding to their already heavy psychedelic feel, the band took the stage decked out in white cloaks drenched covered in a sort of red/brown splatter. Light fog rolled across the floor of the stage as Hollenberg created this sort of creepy ethereal soundscape by strumming the strings around his headstock. The band then crashes into some of the most chaotic crushing death metal I’ve heard at a live show in some time, accompanied by a frantic strobe light show that felt akin to Dillinger show. On top of an incredible live setup, each member of the band played with absolute precision. Rydquist’s vocals were almost more crushing live than there were on the album and brought me back to the first time I heard him on The Faceless’ Planetary Duality. Hollenberg brought some of the most unique, and dissonant solos I’ve gotten to hear at a death metal show in a while, and Wilson kept the rhythm section together with an almost domineering bass tone.
It was a pleasure to hear some of his bass skills shine through with this group, as I always felt like they were a little too far in the background with Dillinger. But out of all them, Litwin easily stole the show for me. It’s safe to say that he had the whole room floored with the technical precision on his drum solo in the song “He Come.”
It was definitely a rare sight to see John Frum (let alone a metal show at The Milk Boy). Keep a close tab on these guys through their social media, the next time they play a show you won’t want to miss it. If you haven’t checked out their record yet it is available here courtesy of Relapse Records. Also if you want to recap their show last Wednesday, someone there film the whole show, check it out here!