The Thermals 

the body, the blood, the machine

The Ramones represented the punk-rock royalty of their time, but it was their third album, 1977 shredder Rocket to Russia, that signaled their graduation from stoopid to stupid fresh. By adding some sonic fidelity and a couple of tricksy chords, the boys elevated their game and blew the lid off the genre. The same holds true for Portland, Oregon, punks the Thermals on their third LP. Reduced to a core duo of Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster after the departure of original drummer Jordan Hudson last year, the band knuckles down, digs deep, and pulls out the album of its career. The body, the blood, the machine is the sound of a band getting better ("St. Rosa and the Swallows"), growing bolder (the religious-right-baiting "A Pillar of Salt"), and busting bollocks (every other track) simultaneously. Taking to heart the Clash's old mantra, "Anger can be power," the group spits out a pseudo-concept album about the disastrous consequences of Religion meets Politics, harnessing its inner Dee Dee in service of ten three-chord therapy sessions that wash over you like a cleansing gasoline bath. Strike match. Add flame. Surrender to the inferno.


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