Sound — 9
The Number Twelve Looks Like you have always striked me as a hardcore band not only going against the mainstream, but against the hardcore Genre itself. A Genre which has been trapt behind stupid haircuts, predictable stage movements and old ideas. But 'Mongrel' is something special. From the audio manipulated opening riff of 'Imagine Nation Express', the violent and demented sound which takes over sucks you in. The opening song acts as a showcase for the album mixing a frenetic free jazz influenced grind with Funk and punk to display the albums overall innovation. The most interesting aspect of this album is the bands ability to use overdriven and distorted guitars very sparingly and stick to a light disortion or clean which makes the time changes and song structure very easy to listen to rather than barrelling through a song. Alexis and Jamie have a very solid guitar partnership which keeps the song flowing with very subtle and almost simplistic licks put together into one song. Jon Karels jazz and Grindcore influenced drumming keep the intensity going through the entire album, on 'Grandfather', which is more of a hardcore influenced jazz piece, the guitar open with a simple rhythm which is intensified by the sparse off kilter drumming and blast into a gentle pandemonium that runs through the song which draws many patterns and textures. Through the album the band use a variety of styles such as Jazz which is evident through the entire album, Salsa which is heard on 'Paper Weight Pigs' and even start with an ambient electronica influenced guitar opening on 'Cradle in the Crater'.
Lyrics — 7
Jesse and Justin prove to be an amazing vocal duo, their pair up has gone from frantic murder screams from their first album(Put on Your Rosy Red Glasses) to a very intricate 'call and answer' and harmonic style of screaming which does not abuse the quality of the instrumentation but actually keeps up the excitement, they also play alot with timing in their vocal lines on songs such as 'Grandfather', Jay Walking Backwards' and 'The Weekly Wars' which is a song that display their singing and screaming abilities placed into one and how the two vocal styles can come together. The Lyrics are in my mind typical The number twelve looks like you lyrics which are very off-beat and poetic in a 'Captain Beefheart-esque' manner with very cryptic word play, but true to their style their lyrics are extremely grotesque and violent with lines like "I'll find creative ways to strip your body parts and use them as weapons of torture, my mother will be proud" from 'El Pinata De La Muerte' and highly sexual lines like "I love knowing that when you kiss your child, that my dick filled the same pussy walls it came from" from 'Imagine Nation Express' but they had very poetic lines such as "Their arms frantically tossed through the air; While his hands were together reciting a prayer" from Jay Walking Backwards. All these prove a significant growth in the band.
Overall Impression — 10
This album remains a landmark album in Metal, but also the most mis-understood album in its refusal to comply with the typical rules of the Hardcore genre. On Songs such as 'Grandfather', which is the band crowning achievement, their true abilities as songwriters and musicians truly come out as they mix Jazz, Grindcore, Thrash and punk into a highly rhythmic nintendoish song. The Pros of this album is it's cohesiveness and even though there is alot of changing it still remains one full piece of art. This is probably an album I will hand over to my children and their children, just to show them that there is life out there.