Trainwreck kept a-rollin’
hurt clobbers the locals with an intense sonic assault
Your mind is assaulted by images of violence, sickness and rape. The comfort of atheism is denied. The gods are all too real tonight, but they are sadistic, distorted versions of the ones you thought you knew. Continuing explosions of bass rattle your breastbone again and again. Perhaps most torturous of all is the pervading melody: Who would have thought that Armageddon would be danceable? What is it that is making your bones rattle and your brain ache, all the while influencing your feet to move to its beat? One monster of a bad acid trip? Have you awakened in hell?
Perhaps. But, more likely, you’ve merely wandered into a Sacramento club while the local masters of techno-metal, hurt, has possession of the stage.
The band hurt includes Tommy Armstrong on guitar, vocals and programming; David Jayne on drums; Evil on guitar and programming; and Skab out front on vocals.
The visual presentation of hurt is almost as addictive and abrasive as its sound; the band’s members throw themselves about the stage in latex outfits and horror-show makeup. They fully embrace the theatrics of the genre they are helping to create. No clowning or between song banter on this stage. They play their set passionately and with complete conviction.
The way hurt’s music is produced is militaristically rigid. Though hurt features a live drummer (Jayne), it also plays along with a prerecorded sonic mix that features additional drum tracks, heavy bass, techno loops and chaotic samples. The band’s set is, by necessity, tight, as any deviation from the machines’ perfect beat will result in what the band refers to as a “trainwreck.”
“We program our breaks,” Skab explains. “We program when we talk to the crowd, how long of a time period we’re gonna talk to the crowd. I know what I’m gonna say. I’ve thought about it and prepared.”
Armstrong expands on that. “Our show goes front to back,” he says. “Someone goes, ‘How long’s your set?’ [and I say] ‘45 minutes and 22 seconds.’ ”
“So all of a sudden rehearsal takes on a whole new meaning.” Jayne adds.
The band comes prepared, lugging in eight guitars with various tunings. As you might imagine, this seriousness carries over into the band’s work ethic. In just four years together, hurt has released two meticulously produced CDs, one using producer Devin Townsend, singer/guitarist for Vancouver metal band Strapping Young Lad, and hurt currently is pounding out a third with Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon. All this, while also gigging and rehearsing a minimum of three days a week, not to mention keeping up day jobs. (The day jobs, of course, all involve music, art or both.) These efforts have brought the band some flattering attention from record companies, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the third album were to be released by a bigger record company than hurt’s own label, Techno Color Yawn.
However, hurt is not a doctrinaire metal band, with a degree in Sabbath 101. Armstrong says he puts songs above genre when it comes to influences. “I’m really into great songs, it doesn’t matter who,” he says.
This attitude has made for some interesting choices of covers; hurt has its own tweaked takes on Prince, Guns N’ Roses and even Depeche Mode.
As for lyrics, hurt’s originals are troubling at best and downright sexist at worse, with more than one reference to sexual violence and violence against women. When asked if they are sexist, all four musicians answer, “No!”—emphatically and without hesitation. They compare the violence of a hurt lyric to the violence on the news: It exists, the band depicts it.
As to whether hurt glamorizes that depiction, you’ll have to decide for yourself.