"Tell me which album I need to buy!" I barked drunkenly at a bemused 16 Bitch Pile-Up after having spent the last couple of hours wondering whether Sarah Cathers's large knife was going to clip the top layer of skin from Sarah Burnat's arm as all three of them lurched steadily forward in the pursuit of submerged noise and drone. There wasn't a great deal of hesitation before a copy of "Bury Me Deep" was thrust into my cash-filled hands followed by the immortal words "Horror concept album". I'm not a hard sell, I know that - the consummate music buyer, the hoarder of 'catalogue', but when something is touted as being anything at all to do with horror movies or even prog-rock-style concepts, I'm hooked. Probing the three-piece further I actually discovered that this wasn't so much a dedication to horror movies (the obvious choice, I suppose) but to horror literature, specifically one author, one book in fact.
If when you were a kid you were dying (sorry) to scare yourself witless without having to resort to actually watching that bit when Luke Skywalker's aunt and uncle got burned to a crisp in Star Wars then you'd read teen horror. You know what I mean - those books that usually involved some kind of illicit (but wholesome) romance, kids solving a mystery, murder, vampires, skeletons, zombies, that sort of thing. The particular book in question, written by genre king Christopher Pike and also titled "Bury Me Deep" anchors on a boy, who died while the protagonist was on the way to a nice relaxing vacation, and of course the boy just won't go away. I don't remember reading it, but Sarah Cathers, Sarah Burnat and Shannon Walter have kindly arranged this album in such a way that it tells the story perfectly. Even down to the album's cover (which mirrors the original jacket) and the small touches in the wording we have a perfect homage to a story and genre that remains forgotten by most over the age of fourteen.
The music of "Bury Me Deep" however is less perfectly attuned to the life of a fourteen year old horror reader and more in line with the kind of cranky hobo-noise you'd expect to hear accompanying Hostel 3 or a long lost Lucio Fulci videocassette. All shadowed in murk and unshackled by any stylistic trappings associated with so much of the noise scene we have synthesized drones echoing around faint impressions of vocals, coffin scraping, dust digging and light flickering aplenty. Rather though than echo the almost expected horror-core of say Wolfmangler or Dead Machines there's something light hearted here that's almost impossible to put your finger on. That's not to say we don't get drawn deep into despair on the album's eighteen minute centrepiece "The Dead Boy Would Not Go Away" which compares to the very best Double Leopards have offered up over the years, but when we hit the motorcycle laced insanity of "The Earth Was Loose" it's obvious that the 16 Bitch agenda differs from that of the dark lords of northern despair. This hypothesis is confirmed when the album's penultimate track "Into the Air" transforms from screaming white-noise into, well, chipmunked soul-pop. It works too, and even comes with the expectant twist (a sure fire feature of most good horror stories) to finish the album off in the shape of the twenty-second "The Dead Boy Would Still Not Go Away."
The key to the record's success is this rich, joyful attention to the gory details that lets you know it is one of those rare beasts - an album with purpose and conviction. And while I, as all music critics do when confronted with a (gulp) female alternative act, feel almost duty-bound to write ten paragraphs on the evolution of girl-punk music, listening to the album again would be a lot more pleasurable for everyone involved. sometimes you've just gotta let the music speak for itself. 9/10 -- Dakota Block (22 January, 2008)