Review: Engine Kid ‘Special Olympics’ EP

Engine Kid formed in 1991, quite a landmark year during which the first Gulf War took place, the Soviet Union dissolved, and some band called Nirvana released Nevermind, who you may have heard of. Fast forward thirty years and the fantastic Everything Left Inside Box Set was released which I was lucky enough to review and something I’m currently saving up the pennies for to purchase a copy from Southern Lord (Europe). Undoubtedly one of the many joys of being single and childless is you get to indulge yourself on cool stuff like this whenever the whim takes you.

Engine Kid 'Special Olympics' EP

Having reunited to work on the aforementioned boxset, the band then decided to record some new material; although when I say new, these are actually reworkings of songs taken from their very last practice tapes from way back in 1995. Nonetheless, it’s awesome to hear some new tuneage from the Seattle trio who consist of Greg Anderson – vocals/guitar, Brian Kraft on bass/vocals, and Jade Devitt on drums. According to the EPs promo notes the artwork ‘is a symbolic metaphor about living one’s best life, and with extravagant swagger’ which seems a positive and necessary sentiment for times which have proven quite challenging of late.

Opening track Burban On Bladez continues the heavier direction Engine Kid would take in later years. The track is a mere fifty-eight seconds and is a somewhat goofy sludgy grunge metal number that certainly recalls bands like Karp and Melvins. Like both those bands, the lyrics are somewhat surreal and offbeat (‘Burban should be savoured, comin’ down on choppers’) so if its sharp socio-political content you’re after then this will probably not be for you. Having been primed by those two aforementioned bands, however, I love it and feel it makes for a light-hearted and fun opener.

Special Olympics is next and right from the off it’s absolutely crushing and a continuation of the prior Karp/Melvins musical direction, in fact, it wouldn’t sound out of place on records by either of those bands. If tracks like Heater Sweats Nails do it for you, then you’ll absolutely love this, especially as you can hear it as a prototype for future Greg Anderson projects such as Burning Witch and Thorr’s Hammer. A fantastic piece.

intricately layered post-rock and monstrously heavy post-hardcore metal…

The penultimate track The Abattoir is 1:15 of gnarly noise-rock and mathrock with some black metal/death metal tinged vocals and seeing as Anderson is a fan of both those genres, this should come as no great surprise. This is definitely a long way from the Slint influenced post-rock band they started off as and once did a twenty-two-minute version of Neil Young’s The Needle And The Damage Done; but which ultimately feels like a completely natural and necessary evolution.

Patty: Tania is primarily an instrumental with a disturbing spoken word piece which reads like a hostage plea from a young lady to her parents to help free her from captivity. The track alternates between intricately layered post-rock and monstrously heavy post-hardcore metal. It showcases Engine Kid at their strongest and makes for an excellent way to conclude proceedings.

I’m going to be perfectly honest, as a massive Engine Kid fan there was little to no chance I was going to remain unbiased or objective when reviewing this. I was of course deliriously happy when I was offered this up to cover and I’m hopeful this is the start of a fully-fledged reunion with potential future releases and tours (UK particularly) in tow.

Label: Southern Lord
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills