Review: Olivia Neutered John – Transphobia Annihilation Squad

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Label: Blackened Death Records

“Metal should be shocking an provocative!” is something that, I’m sure, we’ve all heard before. Normally, such attempts at provocation take tired forms – fascist imagery, pseudo-Satanism, and intentional offensiveness that can be described as, to use an oh-so modern term, “edgy”. And yet when a band comes along challenging norms – such as Castrator turning the gender dynamic of violent death metal on its head, or Dawn Ray’d making passionate anti-fascist black metal, or simply by having members who aren’t straight white cis males in their ranks – they can often cause some of those same alpha metal warriors, who congratulate themselves on challenging boundaries, to have fits of apoplexy. I surely don’t need to provide examples – we’ve all seen it happen, it’s and something that Dick Weeks, the sole member of feminist grind act Olivia Neutered John (and head of Blackened Death Records) deals with almost daily, with anonymous death threats. It’s this context that helps make Transphobia Annihilation Squad, their new EP, so powerful and shocking. Too few people are making music that is this good, with a challenging message that has something worth saying.

In the face of so much hate and personal danger, there must surely be a temptation to ease off, to say “I can’t do this any more.” Instead, Transphobia Annihilation Squad sees Dick double-down on his aggressively feminist lyrics. Whereas previous album Kill All Men (Starting With the White Ones) was a record that often used dark humour, Transphobia Annihilation Squad is more direct in its message. The title track is a perfect example of this, including such lines as “Your transphobia stinks of dog piss” and “Fuck off transphobes”; ‘Opening Their Throats’ makes the statement that “Hate speech is not free speech”; whilst ‘Self-Proclaimed Masters of Abortion’ simply states “You do not own women’s bodies”.

With lyrics like this, Transphobia Annihilation Squad could risk coming across as po-faced and lacking in humour, but the song titles and use of samples adds a slight levity to proceedings, as do a few lines such as the “Fuck off and die… metaphorically” during ‘TERF genocide’. There’s also a sense of enjoyment to be found in the furious, high-speed riffs and drum patterns, all of which are filled with an infectious energy that shows how British grind originally split off from punk. The exception to this is closer ‘Grave of the Butterflies’, which sees the EP out with a more somber mood, but one that still fits the mindset of what the record is setting out to achieve. The music contained on Transphobia Annihilation Squad is just as appealing as the message contained within.

Transphobia Annihilation Squad is a confrontational record, but if it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t be doing what it set out to do. It’s more serious than its predecessor, but there’s still a sense of humour here – not to mention plenty of killer grind. It’s a short, sharp fist to the face of prejudice, and undeniably inspirational.

Transphobia Annihilation Squad is available to download via Bandcamp, and can be streamed on Spotify.

 

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