Bellhead and the Good Intentions:Rambling Review

Bellhead is a post-punk duo from Chicago that brings the dirtiest bass lines and danceable tracks in their newest EP, ‘Good Intentions.’ To me, the name of the EP comes layered in sarcasm, as the stories told through music are delivered with evil intent. Stalkers, sirens at sea, and pure nihilistic fun have brought me to understand the intent is not so comforting. Though elements of pop are embraced in the songwriting, the production maintains a minimalist approach that rejects fillers/unnecessary walls of sound.

The opening track Bad Taste introduces the EP with a four on the floor beat and low guttural vocals that describe the individual in question, “he says he’s a good man, doesn’t make it true” and “does he only want what he can’t have?” Even with the subject matter of stalking, I want to get up and dance to this. The chorus guitars contain an unexpected surprise that remind me of the atmospheric quality of various Nine Inch Nails tracks.

The second song opens with guitars that pivot to a different effect once the verse begins, and the mood is that of a classic horror movie. Into the Deep stirs a haunting narrative that conjures the imagery of water as destroyer. If the potential for surf rock is found here, we’re likely to drown. The bridge hits with spoken word and rounds out the song to something akin to hope as the siren is pursued.

Valentine is my personal favorite on the EP. The narrator seems to be pleading with a lover in what seems to be both romantic and tragic in the same breath. The music moves with a particular gothic sway that reminds me of Crying Vessel, and the lyrics are poetry.

Apathy kicks off with distorted guitars and asks ‘so what?’ in a nihilistic way that brings a smile to my face. The admission that ‘it doesn’t matter’ resonates in me a sing-along quality that makes this song an anthem. Crank this one for that righteous punk goodness.

The Love and Rockets cover No Big Deal is pure Bellhead fun. Their take on the song sounds like their own authentic work, which is what quality artists do when they seek to cover a song. The distorted bass shapes the song into something that fits in with their catalog perfectly.

‘Good Intentions’ closes with Drugstore Keri. This song tells the romantic tale where Keri is more of an enabler than love interest. The dirty bass makes for curled lips and movement on the dance floor. The concluding song feels like a cold drink of classic rock, and I love it.

This EP is worth a spin. If you enjoy post-punk songwriting grounded in the potential to dance, Bellhead is definitely something to consider. ‘Good Intentions’ will leave you craving more of the bad taste it’s gonna leave in your mouth. My only complaint is that I want more!


Skold delivers with ‘Dies Irae’

After 2019’s industrial release ‘Never is Now’ the 2020 release of the “Not My God” record with Nero Bellum, it comes as no surprise that the new Skold solo record would incorporate a healthy dose of metal guitar riffs and intricate leads. ‘Dies Irae’ is broken up in a back-and-forth pattern of guitar centric rock/metal tracks juxtaposed with the trademark heavy electronic/industrial sound I’ve come to expect from more current projects from Tim Skold. This parallel mixing of musical styles keeps the record moving in such a way as to never feel stagnant. The constant change up results in a refreshing album. While it may be the honeymoon period talking, I’m confident in feeling that ‘Dies Irae’ is my favorite Skold record yet.

The album opens with hard hitting ‘Dirty Horizon.’ This track has crisp sounding guitars that sound both contemporary, yet familiar in a nostalgic way. A scathing chorus hooked me, and I knew I was in for something fun. The guitar solo is a solid tell of things to come, and sets the tone for more metal aggression. That expectation is subverted when the second song starts up. ‘Unspoken’ breaks the ice with some of the more electronic elements I had expected. There’s a guitar solo in this one that shows off the best of Skold’s vast talent, which shouldn’t surprise me at this point, but it’s so good.

My favorite track is ‘Love is a Disease.’ There’s drum programming in the chorus that has this haphazard hi-hat pattern that is percussive icing that coats a bigger wall sound. The lyrical part of the chorus hits in a way that has lost zero impact after multiple listens. It feels like a confession, and I’m here for that kind of honesty. Another authentic confession is offered up in the atmospheric song ‘Terrified’ where Skold sings, “I’m not afraid of dying…I’m fucking terrified.”

Another track with intricate electronic drum programming is ‘Silicon Dreams.’ It’s made clear that Skold isn’t comfortable falling back on old habits when producing new material. The rhythmic work on this track reflects the coexisting grit and shine of trap music with hopeless undertones, and sparse guitar work that makes use of dynamic range.

The album ends with ‘Goodbye.’ This leans more toward elements of a metal track, and was released early as the album’s teaser. It rings as a highlight for me, as this final track was the first one I heard. It gave a good impression regarding the direction of the album, without revealing all of the tricks Skold deals out over the course of this record. This effort feels like one cohesive work, while showcasing an impressive variety and range Tim Skold brings to the table.