Killers Like Us by BuñuelRelease date: February 18, 2022
Label: Profound Lore
“We Came. We Saw. We Strangled.”
So say the words of warning emblazoned across Buñuel’s Instagram page. This confession sums up, in more ways than one, the raucous cross continental crew made up of three Italian noise-niks with previous in such boisterous outfits as Snare Drum Exorcism (drummer Francesco Valente), Afterhours (guitarist Xabier Iriondo), Em4ncipation (bassist Andrea Lombardini), and rounded off by renaissance man and Oxbow vocalist, Eugene Robinson.
With such a looming character at the front, comparisons with Oxbow seem inevitable. However, the sonics wrought by Valente, Iriondo, and Lombardini veer wildly away from the forked art rock of the San Francisco quartet and venture into more heavily distorted waters. ‘When God Used A Rope’ sounds like a drunken drag race through the desert. Drums and guitars wheel-spinning over burnt-out bass. It’s got the measure of a Stooges strut as Robinson’s vocals spill into the guitar squall. And then, on ‘Roll Call’, they gallop in, dishing out excesses akin to Motorhead if they were raised on New Orleans swamp water.
On other occasions Buñuel’s sonic tapestry leans towards Sleep-esque slow motion doom riffing (‘Hornets’) and then they dip into the sort of angular clang that you’d expect from the Jesus Lizard or Gnod. Guitars that sound as if they’re being strummed with shovels. Thunderous drums regularly square up against sizzling guitar lines trilling like hands shaking with adrenaline but, even when plying these discordant shards, there’s an oof kicked out from their fused solar plexuses. It is rock ’n’ roll as an aphrodisiac, as a vector of sexuality. Slithering in sleaze-greased with designs to corrupt your sons and daughters.
This rumbling eroticism throbs through the core of each track. From the heavy swinging rhythm of ‘Stocklock’ to ‘It’s All Mine’ with its bass line dragged groin-first through a ditch. Each track on Killers Likes Us is the soundtrack to another debauched night out. It’s the dry slap of dirt-fucking in the dunes after two days on a diet of moonshine and raw meat. It’s the feeling of succumbing to deep, guttural urges despite better intentions.
These are urges that Eugene Robinson has never shied from. Oxbow shows famously feature the formidable frontman gradually stripping down to his underwear, gripping himself, and handling confrontational audience members with a measure of violence. Something which has since become an increasingly tedious focus of interviews. At the heart of this record lies a longing for a simpler time. Robinson’s language seemingly boils things down to instinctual physical processes. Fighting. Fucking. Drinking. Vomiting. Firing guns. Sometimes all in the same breath. Sometimes distant and passive. Always accompanied by a lurching growl that’s equal parts sound and threat.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a band named after the master filmmaker and renowned provocateur, Luis Buñuel, their work flies like a fist into the face of religious doctrine. God, Jesus, and the Devil dance an off-kilter fandango through the lurid landscapes of Robinson’s written howls. In his world the Devil is “in the details” and “never takes his time”, whilst Jesus has “problems with the machina and the deus”. Similarly on ‘When We Talk’ he spits out, like sucked venom, the phrase “You have offended the Gods”, repeating it over and over and over again until his language has descended into scrabbling evangelical tongues.
Whether it is God-fearing or Devil-baiting, remains to be seen. What’s for certain is that this is a visceral journey into the dark heart of the self. A taste of the underworld’s underbelly. A trip into the shadows as told by those who have spent more time there than most. Liquor and violence pour through the notes, marinate the tones, and drench the drums. It’s a turgid confessional that Buñuel only half want you to believe is fictional. This is what happens when a good man turns bad.