Demeter Pukes On Bourgeois Gentility

50 Tons' raunchy, soiled reality's no airbrushed fantasy.

It speaks volumes about this band, previously known in the UK as Penthouse

(and their album as Gutter Erotica), that they were judged too

raunchy to be associated with Bob Guccione Sr.'s famous U.S. skin mag of

the same name, and are thus known in North America as 50 Tons of Black


One can only imagine the Penthouse offices reverberating to the

twisted, sordidly beautiful mess of renamed-for-America Demeter

(the name of Dracula's ship, apparently), as the boss' face reddens and

his latest silly toupee flips clear off into the aquarium to be devoured

by his pet piranhas. Yeah, there's no friggin' way Guccione and crew

would want to come within 50 miles of 50 Tons, whose raunchy, soiled

reality is eons removed from their airbrushed fantasies.

The accompanying PR calls these guys "the last great rock 'n' roll band,"

and while that's a pretty hyperbolic claim, 50 Tons do their best to live

up to it here. This is some of the grimiest, gutbucket rocking blues I've

heard since the halcyon days of such '80s Aussies as the Birthday Party,

Crime & the City Solution and These Immortal Souls. Throw in a smidgen

of Jim "Foetus" Thirlwell–styled madness, some Gallon Drunk–isms

and even a dash of Marc Almond–ish sexual kinks, and you've got a

band that remembers what "alternative" really was before the term was

hijacked and applied to Peter Frampton–styled corporate mush. Anyway.

50 Tons are ready to face the future — as they put it on the closing

number of this splatterplatter of spleen — "Face Down."

Demeter treats rock and roll circa 1999 with all the disrespect

it so heartily deserves. "Voyeur's Blues" (RealAudio

excerpt) sets the tone for the proceedings, a blast of beer-and-barbiturate

R&B: "I want to do that too/ I've seen the way she sucks on you" yowls deranged vocalist Charlie Finke over some

of the skaggiest sounds imaginable. With the opening track, you're put

on notice — you'll either get off on this one or just shut it off,

but ignore it you definitely won't.

The next track, "Gus' Neck," ups the tempo to punkish speeds and offers

some of that "Gutter Erotica" promised by the album's original title:

"See the dirt my face leaves on her chest" Finke moans in this classic

tale of "doing it in the dirt." Meanwhile, the slow blues "La Grotte

d'Amour" (RealAudio

excerpt) is pure Crime & the City Solution/ These Immortal Souls terror-tory,

with the graveyard junkie licks of Jon Free's guitar seemingly possessed

by the spirit of the great Rowland S. Howard, lead guitarist of both

those immortal bands, and of the Birthday Party as well.

The remainder of the CD features fast and slow variations on these

booze-sodden and sexually perverse themes — and if you get past

track three, you'll probably love the rest of it. A personal fave is "A

Deviant Soiree" (RealAudio

excerpt), which finds Finke excoriating a party guest: "You took

down your pants down honey, and you pissed in a corner of my house!"

However, big man that he is, he's able to shrug it off: "Nobody got hurt/

But there's still piss in the house!" he complains. Finally, Free decides

to end the whole diatribe with a sheet of white-noise guitar worthy of

Iggy and the Stooges' "L.A. Blues."

Demeter ain't pretty, and the kids will cry if you play it in the

minivan. It won't even work with your cozy little Friday night champagne-and-coke

soirees with the boys and girls from the software office. Downright

annoying at times, 50 Tons of Black Terror puke all over any notion of

middle-class niceties and bourgeois gentility, and thank God — or

maybe Satan — for that.