The Locust – “Plague Soundscapes”

dB HoF No. 143

Label: Anti-
Release date: June 24, 2003

If any band has endured and persevered through extreme music’s potential for divisive conservatism and pedantic nit-picking, it’s the Locust. The every-genre-and-more San Diegan noise-niks may have started as a proto-powerviolence/hardcore outfit in 1994, but quickly utilized everything at their fingertips in order to expand upon and shatter every barrier imaginable to create a unique shade of red-lining chaos. And equal numbers of the public loved and hated the double-middle finger they gave tropes and conventions. However, those who hated the Locust fucking hated the Locust. Often finding themselves on the receiving end of everything from self-righteous fanzine editorials and baseless accusations of elitism to slashed van tires and physical assaults, the Locust wouldn’t have been faulted for giving in to pressure in the name of self-preservation and not wanting to deal with the hassle.

Instead, the band—bassist/vocalist Justin Pearson, synth player/vocalist Joey Karam, guitarist/vocalist Bobby Bray and drummer Gabe Serbian—doubled down. They took to donning insect-inspired uniforms as a symbol of their insular unity, kept pumping out releases and touring like nomads. This series of moves inflamed their critics with everything coming to a confrontational head on Plague Soundscapes. Instead of turtle-ing, the Locust came out faster, crazier, heavier and more forceful, with a record that seemingly amplified the sounds of a swarm of their namesakes being funneled into an acid-fueled wood chipper as Deadguy, Morbid Angel, Frontline Assembly, Antioch Arrow, Peaches and Zeni Geva were puréed in the background. That the album was released on Anti-, the diverse subsidiary of punk label Epitaph, further fanned the flames. And just as the Locust doubled-down on their lack of compromise, so did their haters’ hatred as gigs transformed into small-scale battle zones, detractors’ shit-talking conniption fits broke the internet long before the Kar-ass-ians, and self-identified tastemakers spoke out against the band’s quick-change/electrogrind/hardcore and the lyrical imagery in small ‘c’ classics like “Identity Exchange Program Rectum Return Policy,” “Priest With the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Get Out of My Bed” and “The Half-Eaten Sausage Would Like to See You in His Office.”

But something funny happened; folks outside hardcore’s self-congratulatory world cottoned on to the noise. Different sects of people looked beyond the bullshit to find forward-thinkers playing the extreme music of a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future in the present. Plague Soundscapes is a lot of things: a fist in the face of naysayers; a rallying point for the ire of scene purists; a soundtrack to the end times; an unpredictable and uncompromising blender whirl of transgressive music. And now, it’s a member of Decibel’s Hall of Fame.

– Kevin Stewart-Panko

Got to get more The Locust? To read the entire seven-page story, with featurings interviews with all members on Plague Soundscapes, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.