Label: Blackened Death Records
This is an album that will make a lot of people unhappy. Kill All Men (Starting With The White Ones) is the first album from Olivia Neutered John, the satirical porno-grind project of Pope Richard, and whilst that’s a genre normally known for its poor perceptions of women and anyone who isn’t a straight white male, Kill All Men flips the usual practices of the genre on its head. The record mixes sexualised topics with the kind of gore that’s part way between Cannibal Corpse and Castrator, placing women in positions of power. It’s backed up by furious, straight to the point blasts of grind, making Kill All Men a rush of furious energy, that often masks its serious points with crude humour.
Of all the projects Pope Richard has been involved in, this is the most unhinged, with his vocals often being shrieked as well as growled. The riffs and drum patterns are amongst the fastest he’s composed to date, racing along with untamed kinetic energy that is all but impossible to resist. It’s not a one-dimensional record though, with ‘Black Painting IV’ providing a relatively sedate interlude, and the grind songs themselves ranging from super-short bursts – such as the 10 second long ‘Porn’, or the 2 seconds of ‘Dominatrix’ – to more death-grind tracks that last around two minutes. There’s even a few elements that remind me of bands like Crass, such as the winding bass line during ‘Five Knuckle Colon Buster’ and use of samples atop the uncomfortable ‘Child’.
It has to be emphasised that Kill All Men is, for large parts, quite a humorous album. The opening sample to ‘Scalding Piss’ had me laughing the first time I heard it, as did the spoken word section at the end – though in a different sense, which I’ll come to shortly. ‘Cucked With A Knife’ switches the gender dynamic of a certain Cannibal Corpse song around completely (and is one of the best songs on the album), and there’s inherent humour in song titles like ‘Heterosexuals are Gay’ and ‘Gaze Upon His Cloven Testicles and Laugh’.
Sometimes though, the album gets laughs because its use of humour to make a point is simply shocking, and can catch the listener off-guard. The aforementioned ‘Scalding Piss’ ends up making a strong point against rape culture, and Kill All Men, as a whole, is an album that finds a lot of humour – and salient points – simply by flipping around the gender and power structures typically found in death and grind. But despite its often humourous and over-the-top presentation, Kill All Men is an album with a lot to say about sexism and prejudice, whether institutionalised or performed by individuals. In particular, closer ‘This Is Not Funny’ plays it completely straight-faced, reeling off statistics about the challenges and victimization faced by those who are not straight cis white men across the world. It’s a difficult listen, but for some people, it’s not a listen – it’s a daily reality of oppression and aggression, whether verbal, institutional, or physical.
At its heart, that is what Kill All Men is trying to get across. It may present itself in shocking, controversial, attention-grabbing terms, but the record has a noble aim, questioning and challenging the power structures that are often taken for granted, from a position where it is aware of its own power and privilege. That’s a fact that will upset some people in the metal underground, which I’m sure Pope Richard is absolutely counting on; and long may he continue to provoke, ridicule, and question, all whilst producing killer music.
Kill All Men is due for release on 31 October 2017. It can be ordered via Bandcamp.