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Abattoir 3000
Road Trip To Oblivion
Kommy Elektra Records

This is an album that could have been more than it was. Road Trip to Oblivion is a companion piece to Kent Messer's novel of the same name. Incidentally, Messer is also one of the members of Abattoir 3000. In the words of Messer himself, "The Rocket's Red Glare (the original name for the novel) doesn't have anything to do with international terrorism. It is about growing up in the cold war era. It's about the music. It's a road trip through the life of a young artist and the friend he couldn't forget." Um. Sure. The book might be about that, but the sound of the album has a more post-apocalyptic feel to it, particularly in regard to the first track which seems to have a drunk or dying president (Reagan, presumably) pressing the button on his way down or out. "Country Road" is a gruesome and comically disturbing tale of survival necessity overtaking friendship, and is arguably the darkest piece of the set, particularly since it is happily set to a pretty standard country tune. Another track details a deranged father berating his dead son for leaving his room a mess, and inconsiderately neglecting to remove his own dead body from the house. ("Why Do Dead Children") Other tracks reflecting the disintegration of the family unit ("Wildly Unsuccessful Lives") and the indulgence of excess ("Kirkagard") ring clear as hallmarks of the '80s, but as a concept, the album seems to be simultaneously showing things as they were, and as they could have been if there had been a nuclear apocalypse. I'm not certain if this is accidental or intentional, nor can I really say if it is successful or not in this regard. I suppose it could be viewed either way since no specific reference to a nuclear attack is directly made, but enough imagery is presented for me to infer it.

But, on to the rest… Musically, the album is varied in its presentation. It draws from numerous genres for its tracks, and presents them serviceably, if unimaginatively. The sound production is rather lacking, and the vocalist isn't really good enough to sing within all of the respective musical paradigms used. Sometimes, he sounds dead on, and in others he is really searching. Another, or a different, vocalist could seriously have helped, and a wider range (or better quality) of synthesized instrumentation would have, too. In short, this album needed a good producer and some money thrown at it.

Road Trip to Oblivion has enough of a demo tape feel to it, that it makes me assert that this is not really a finished product. If you're going to lampoon the '80s, you have to adhere to the same affectation of over or under-production. Remember, EVERYTHING was done to excess. Punk was exceptionally low budget and stripped-down, country was really dreary, metal was ultra-fast and hard, and prog-rock was an exercise in perfectionism and no-holds-barred expense. The songwriting and execution on this album is right where it needs to be, but everything else basically needs a rework. The website has rumored that there is a movie deal in the works for Road Trip to Oblivion, so perhaps they will release a movie soundtrack as well that will hopefully correct the aforementioned problems.


Track Listing:

1. Road Trip to Oblivion
2. Do You Remember
3. Kirkagard
4. Despair and Departure
5. Country Road
6. Tipper
7. Paranoia
8. Why do Dead Children
9. She Bitch
10. Wildly Unsuccessful Lives
11. Happily Ever After

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