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Purling Hiss’ Hissteria is one of the finest records you could ever hope to blast from a Camaro, Barracuda, or Boss 302 Mustang . . . or at least the finest in recent memory. If that distinction suggests it’s some kind of exercise in Grand Funk resurrection, well, you’re 50 percent right. Hissteria is brimming with Motor City riffery fished from a murky pond polluted by the melted vinyl of old Stooges, Alice Cooper, and Bob Seger System LPs. It’s also fired by some of the most unhinged wah torture since the mighty Comets on Fire funked up the Japanese psychedelic punk fury of High Rise.
In the tradition of both High Rise and the Comets first record, Hissteria is gloriously recorded with total disregard for any AOR notions of high fidelity. There’s probably not a single instrument on this LP that wasn’t recorded completely in the red through some dust-, nicotine-, and fried-chicken-grease-encrusted analog desk to an equally decrepit reel-to-reel 4-track. And that makes it even more remarkable that these heavy grooves and tunes come through loud and clear. Some of it can be chalked up to a vague familiarity in some riffs. “Down on the Delaware River,” for instance, is a strutting twist on Iggy & the Stooges’ “Penetration” splattered with searing wah throws and daggers of squealing feedback. “Whipple Dam” sounds like Bill Ward and Geezer Butler sparring with a crazed gaggle of hardcore kids after a week of ingesting Twinkies and RC Cola.
There’s absolutely nothing subtle or timid about Hissteria, but it’s far from joyless guitar-punk nihilism. This is a muscle-car cruising record par excellence that, behind the lo-fi barrage, swings and shimmies like a killer Creedence single. It makes about 90 percent of the last year’s rock ’n’ roll sound about as exciting as a wet ramen noodle on Wonder bread.