The Witch Trials

Industrial Jello - Tasty Good!

The Witch Trials EP - Subterranean 1980
Rating = 8

This four-song EP gave the Dead Kennedys' singer and guitarist a chance to try something completely different from the hardcore punk with which they were generally associated. Mr. Jello Biafra (singer) and Mr. East Bay Ray (guitar) joined Mr. Christian Lunch (keyboard) and Mr. I Don't Know Who Else Played On This to create a handful (where one of the fingers has been lopped off) of creepy Throbbing Gristle-style industrial songs dealing with subjects like unusual punishment (the taser!), foul sex and atomic monsters. The mood is eerie and cold, with a dulled, echoey bass tone making it feel like you're lost in somebody's basement with a scratchy guitar mouse skittering around your feet.

Look, I know I've said this before elsewhere on the site but it bears repeating -- I have been diagnosed with obsessive/compulsive disorder. What this means is that, although I was at first able to stick to a carefree schedule of reviewing any band I wanted to, I quickly forced myself to begin reviewing all the bands in alphabetical order (ostensibly "so I won't forget anybody"). Furthermore, those bands that are blessed by my owning one or more of their releases on vinyl find themselves amongst the first bands of each letter to be reviewed (ostensibly because I want to take all the records down at the same time, and not risk waking up my dog to go upstairs and get an album, even though I never play music when he's in his cage anyway because it makes him cry).

And then of course there are the request reviews. If somebody sends me an email saying, for example, "Can I review Soundgarden?," I respond by saying, "Actually I was planning to review them!" and immediately move them above whatever bands are coming up in the letter I'm on. The same goes for anybody saying, for example, "Please review Soundgarden!" I figure, "Those bands are in demand, so I should satisfy that demand!"

What I'm trying to explain here is that about three years ago, somebody requested that I review all of Jello Biafra's solo records. At the time I was on hiatus from the site, but now that Iím back, I remembered the request and immediately added a Jello Biafra page to the site. However, I chose not to review two Biafra side projects (The Witch Trials and The No WTO Combo) because both feature other well-known musicians and thus were not, in my mind, "Jello Biafra" projects. This idea only lasted until a few nights ago, when my OCD convinced me that it was in my best interest to review both of them as separate pages because they are "in demand".

By one guy.

Three years ago.

The other night I had the scariest nightmare I have ever had in my life. Without going into too much detail, I had accidentally created an alternate reality in which half of the people are condemned to perform pre-programmed responses to the occurrences taking place around them, while the other half believes that they are free, but are actually only free to perform an action ONE TIME. After they have run out of actions, they are stuck performing one action over and over and over and over again until somehow somebody finds a way to free them from this personal prison. For example, at one point in the dream, I was being chased up a staircase by a person who was pre-programmed to chase anybody who stepped onto the first stair. But when I got halfway up, I couldn't go up anymore - because I had already performed that action. Then, before I could come up with an alternate move, the person caught up to me and, as demanded by his pre-programming, began slicing me up with a knife.

And that's just one example from a nightmare that went on for four terrifying hours until my puppy licked me in the face and woke me up. After discussing the dream with my girlfriend, I realized that it had a direct correlation to my OCD. I used to feel like I was condemned to follow a set of actions that were outlined for me by my brain in response to past experiences. For example, if I dropped a piece of paper on the ground, I HAD to pick it up or something bad would happen. When my girlfriend and I separated to go to work each morning, I HAD to say "Be careful!" or something bad would happen. However, I've been on medication for quite some time, convincing myself that I'm getting better. But I'm NOT. I'm not free from the obsessions. I've just convinced myself that I am, just like the people in the dream.

This EP is short, but really odd and intriguing. I wish I could give it a 7 and a half because 8 seems way too high, but then again 7 has a feeling of "low"-ness to it. If you find it cheap, buy it. If not, don't worry too much about it. Now if you'll excuse me, I must review The No WTO Combo, and then get started on Corrosion Of Conformity because some guy earlier tonight asked if he could review them.

Reader Comments

richbunnell@home.com
Mark, OCD-related or not, that has got to be one of the coolest dreams I've ever heard.

jfrankparnell@hotmail.com
OCD reminds me of the OCB, the Otter Creek Boys, a local gang who went to my Jr. High and use to spray paint their logo everywhere and throw things into the creek (strangely enough, they hung out at Wabacane Creek, not Otter Creek). Man they were gay.

andrew.moncrieff@virgin.net
Yeah, I've sent you a lot of comments....it's not because I'm stalking you, it's because I'm at university and I have no friends.

This album is really great, a total one off but without the long-winded wanking you expect from what is a basic jam session....you know the bits I mean, when you picture the musicians looking to each other to catch any sudden (or interesting) changes. Plus it's funny as hell to just hear Jello singing songs about blow jobs and frivolous crap (the song MEAT BEAT is available on the Alternative Testicles website which everyone should raid all of their mp3s from).

and about OCD, I used to have this thing when I was little where if I caught my arm or something on a doorway, I'd havre to stop and go back (to "even it out" I used to say, apparently) and on the way to school, if I passed a drain, I'd have to step on it. And if I stepped on one accidentally, I had to go back and do it EXACTLY the same..sometimes you wouldn't be able to replicate it, so people would just be watching me standing there stamping on this drain. Anyway, that was all before my dad beat it out of me with the love of God.

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