Live From the Poison Factory, the debut album from the noise punk band Anxious Wave, takes you on a frantic, thrashing, and often pained journey. Featuring Mikey Belcastro on guitar (formerly of Product of Waste and Violent Sons), Sam Okon on bass, Dylan Lagory on drums, and aggressively anguished vocals and lyrics from Brandon St. Pierre, this record often feels like a fever dream, or a nightmarish hallucination. They spent the majority of the 2020 lockdown writing and recording the album and the psychic stress of the pandemic (and life in general) is certainly percolating here, but with plenty of surreal fun and a sense of humor, too.
The opening track, “Complex Needs,” sets the tone of panic bordering on the grotesque with driving drums and bass, relentless guitar noise, and St. Pierre’s tortured lyrics: “Gotta lotta stuff going on…and I’d be better at it without my cognition on…Drowned to death, in my own shit, my own piss, my own kids…Complex needs. For a complex disease. / I’ve spent weeks, am I the cure or am I the weak?” The song has a fantastic video as well, created by Monster Makeup Productions, a Providence-based collective of horror filmmakers that focus on LGBTQ storytelling.
Beyond “Complex Needs,” standout tracks to me included “Mirror Bed,” a danceable, more light-hearted song about good old-fashioned relentless sex, with a great almost jangly guitar hook from Belcastro in the verses, that explodes into a more raw wall-of-sound chorus: “Put my foot on the floor,” St Pierre bellows. “To stay steady, move steady / She always wants more. I’m ready. She’s ready.” Other faves of mine include “Carnivore” and “Void Boyz,” both catchy punk anthems driven by Okon’s ever-undulating bass lines, Lagory’s steady prowess on the drums, and Belcastro’s wide range of guitar sounds. His guitar work reminded me of The Cure, Nirvana, and Helmet at different points on this album…that’s a lot of different guitar sounds…my head is spinning!
Of all the songs on Live From the Poison Factory, though, “Executive Dissector” will be the track I listen to on repeat the most. With additional vocals from Marina Phom of Panzerchocolate (who shared a split seven-inch with Anxious Wave back in 2019), I can’t help but scream along to the raucous repetition in the chorus: “Controlling, controlling, controlling, controlling me / Patrolling, patrolling, patrolling, patrolling me.” The final lyrics of “Executive Dissector” give the album its name: “From the poison factory, the boy is satisfactory.”
Live From the Poison Factory is loud, frightening fun, and far better than just satisfactory work from Anxious Wave.
Live From the Poison Factory is out now via Nefarious Industries and available from Bandcamp and on all major streaming platforms.