Bringing the Meat Backby Dorothy Mhone / Images by BJ Engelbrecht / 06.11.2012
When I first heard this band, I wasn’t planning to. It was almost by mistake because before they played some pussy electronic pop band was on stage trying to get me to commit suicide. I was at the bar, the annoying techno squirrel sounds stopped, then I heard some mean guitar and a while later I thought I heard the line: “Jesus raped the slaves!” I didn’t need to hear much else, it was a ‘SOLD! To the woman on the left’ kind of situation. Problem was, I had no fucking idea who they were, I just knew what they looked like, sticking out like sore thumbs, gangrene infected legs or sunburnt lips.
Most other bands force us to listen to their whiney songs about their Zooey Deschanel-lookalike-ex-girlfriends. And, invariably, they look like the group of awkward guys that sat in the back row in college trying to be hardcore. But Juggernaught look like the people you find on a road trips; ploughing, mining, chopping wood or fixing a truck (the 1979 Ford F250 kind) while gulping some brown liquid from a bottle in a brown paper packet and coughing like a goat.
Juggernaught! They are hairy, they eat roadkill and live in a dark far away town. Comments under their Youtube videos say things like: “Sounds like he swallowed a jar of wasps with a side of lemon juice”. “Actually, he sounds like he has an extra pair of balls instead of vocal cords! His voice is that much manly!”
Slowly you start to understand why they define their music as ‘man rock’.
When it comes to ‘man rock’ or anything that you can’t dance to because headbanging is in order, then I like to be shouted at. Say it and spray it; leading the crowd to violently headbang and not give a fuck who they spill their drinks on. Basically, the kind of behaviour you don’t appreciate from people in everyday life, you want from a band like this. That obnoxious, loud, loose, chaotic and rude attitude is what some people come out at night for and pay to see. These guys said they are bringing the meat back and we’re here to eat it. What I misheard as “Jesus raped the slaves” is actually “The children have gone hungry, Jesus left this land… And in our darkest hour, we took the devil’s hand!” Obviously it’s an acquired taste. This man singing sounds like he’s pissed off as fuck and is being possessed by four different demons, well that was the last time, I experienced Juggernaught.
This time around, at their album launch at the Bohemian last week, I see they can be smooth. When I walk in, the lead vocalist is standing at the entrance, maybe subconsciously scanning who he’ll be singing for tonight, and then later checking out the on stage butchery and bobbing his head just ever so slightly in partial agreement, in a sort of ‘well done kids’ way, while the opening act, Permission To Speak are playing. With the lyrics: “Good God, sweet lord, hallowed be thy name! Mighty God!” and a voice that could bring Kurt Cobain back from the dead, they surely bitch slapped the rowdy crowd into buying drinks and having deep, meaningful conversations. They were granted ‘permission to speak’ about living on a student loan and having long hair and dirty beards that ladies don’t enjoy. I personally thought they should have been more angry than sad about their subject matter, this young man blues can get a little embarrassing but they have a strange gypsy sound at times that’s enjoyable. The guitarist seems to have spent some time listening to Clapton and the vocalist’s grungy voice fits slap-bam in the 90s. Their set was an ambient prelude, maybe even an ironic intro to what was played later in the night.
It was Highway Casino that had something going for them. Their biggest fan, Ivan, with a disturbingly pretty face, a dangerous slogo on his T-shirt and a Matrix coat actually expressed his love for them enough to bring us to the stage and indulge. Earlier he was watering an old tree with a free beer he thought was watered down as part of a Black Label promotion rip off. Either way Ivan stood there in some sort of hyper-admiration. The pure mind-fuckery of support, some people actually get off on their music, whether they display it politely by taking it all in, or by having a viciously active eargasm; jamming, downing beers in front of the band, headbanging with their eyes closed and trying to trash the stage. I really did get the Highway Casino vibe. They were very fast, alive, hating musical traffic, very rough kind of like the daunting sound of a muscle car engine revving right behind you. They bring it all together in that noisy way that makes you all of a sudden go hysterically mad with ecstatic anxiety. Shrieking “You’re not the only one” with the passion of a bull, to the point where it starts to sound like some really messed up love song.
Juggernaught gets on stage in a room filled with smoke and the smell of beer. Herman checks the mic and says something along the lines of: “Fuck it, let’s play”, immediately followed by Jovan and Angilo in a monstrous guitar duo, some heavy energetic hits from drummer, Alexis and the wasps start flying out the jar of Herman’s voice. After the initial shock, the crowd becomes a wave of movement, getting tricked by unpredictable riffs just as they get into it. No one really knows what to think, except that what they’re listening to is good music. The sometimes bluesy bass and guitar gets caught up in a twist as soon as Herman opens his mouth and Alexis beats his drum, quickly changing the rhythm. It’s somewhere between a sermon and an attack. Attack, especially when Jovan pulls a face and also gets on the mic, possessing the whole band into becoming that unstoppable force. The whole place is like a train derailing at high speed. The band gets into a vicious headbanging frenzy, the crowd does the same. The refreshing mix of personalities is evident as the drummer manages to switch from a serious FBI face to a friendly smile, the bass guitarist is having a little party in the corner being hypnotised by his instrument, the guitarist seems pissed of half the time but it translates into a fierce sound and the vocalist never seems to take a breath, strumming his guitar, stomping his feet and headbanging in appreciation of what the band is doing instrumentally. It suddenly pops into my head that this thing is really rolling down a hill and can’t be stopped.
Stay tuned for our interview with Juggernaught.
*All images © BJ Engelbrecht.