I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Fear of a Prison Planet by Stuck Backwards
- Label: Self-released (2017)
- Tracks: 9
- Run Time: 28:48
- Genre: Hardcore/Thrash Metal/Crossover
Stuck Backwards was a new name to me, but this quartet is apparently a well-known fixture in the Mid-Atlantic metal scene, with a history that dates back to the late '90s. Fronted by a hulking, masked vocalist known only as "He-Mutha Johnson," these self-proclaimed purveyors of "Urinal Cake Rock" have played gigs alongside such underground luminaries as D.R.I., the Misfits, GWAR, Murphy's Law, Green Jello, and many more.
When the Virginia Beach-based band first contacted me via e-mail about reviewing their album, they immediately got on my good side when they referred to me as the "resident metal fan" of this hallowed website (well, geez, it's about time somebody noticed). Flattery will get you everywhere, fellas (bats eyelashes).
I had a feeling that I was in for a weird listening experience when the package containing Fear of a Prison Planet arrived a few days later, bearing a return address from the "Celine Dion Fan Club." The cool cartoon-style album art featuring monstrous, fanged cops, politicians, and religious figures gave me the first hint that the fellas in Stuck Backwards are pretty pissed off about the state of the world, but the band members' MAD Magazine-worthy stage names and their tongue-in-cheek bio sheet (which claims the Stuck Backwards sound "closely resembles that of a toad being blown apart by an M-80") shows that they don't take themselves—or anything else—very seriously, either. Press "play"—or perhaps that should be "detonate?"—and prepare to enter the wild, wacky world of Stuck Backwards!
When Fear of a Prison Planet pulls the pin on the opening two-minute thrash fest "Slice of America," I immediately thought of fellow fun-loving Virginians Municipal Waste. Guitarist Mike Puke lays down some serious shreds and the rhythm section of Nate M*sturbate and drummer Moose Nuckols (who's since been replaced by new skin basher Johnnie Ashtray) keeps the bottom end nice and tight.
He-Mutha Johnson's hoarse, confident vocal roar resembles a blend of the late, great Dave Brockie of GWAR and the deranged carnival-barker vibe of the Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra. "The Call" is a rail against conformity ("Eat! Sleep! Be mindless and breed!") that sees Johnson adding some near-death-metal screams to his vocal arsenal.
Read More From Spinditty
The catchy call-to-arms "Pound for Pound" and "Crouching Liar, Hidden Backstabber" are a pair of fast-paced, punked-out rave-ups with Johnson spitting lyrics at a thousand miles an hour, before the band slows things down (just a bit) on "Prison Planet," which features some seriously burly riff work. "American Dream" is a sarcastic take on the expectations of "normal" society ("What about the American SCHEME?") in which the band defiantly asserts, "you'll never get my mind!"
The ferocity of "Victim" is let down slightly by the sing-songy chorus, which is repeated so frequently that it becomes irritating (unless that's the point?). The band goes back to thrashing territory with the short-but-sweet indictment of the music industry, "Where Do I Sign?" and the album-closing "Collision" is an utterly bad-ass combo platter of screaming, deranged vocal work, and pit-inducing musical brutality. By the time I reached the end of Fear of a Prison Planet, I felt sufficiently pummeled, as if I'd just gone ten rounds with Ivan Drago, but I immediately pressed "play" again for another dose!
Summing It Up
Stuck Backwards certainly aren't going to re-write the music history books, but they are a ton of loud, snotty, obnoxious fun. Their potent mix of thrash, old-school punk, and metal will make you slam, make you laugh, and maybe…just maybe, make you think a little bit.
Fear of a Prison Planet took a few spins before it really sank in, but once it clicked it stayed on my playlist for several days straight (and since I generally have the attention span of a fruit fly, that's really sayin' something). I bet these guys must be a ton of fun to watch live in concert; I can only imagine the sort of chaos Stuck Backwards can unleash on stage!
Fans of raunchy, frenzied, punk/metal mash-ups like the aforementioned GWAR, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, D.R.I., or Municipal Waste should definitely give Stuck Backwards a listen. Check'em out at their official Facebook page or give'em a listen via the YouTube samples provided here.
Thanks to the band for sending Fear Of A Prison Planet my way. I hope you continue your mission of musical destruction for many more years. Keep it heavy, keep it weird!
© 2018 Keith Abt