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Blame Game

Blame Game/Zann - Crab Apocalypse Records

Smudging the lines of American excess and German ingenuity, Atlanta's hardcore improvisationalists Blame Game, and its Leipzig, Germany, counterpart, Zann, go head-to-head on this 13-song split 12-inch. Both groups have roots firmly planted in hardcore's most abrasive sonic terrain, and in committing these songs to vinyl, those roots become a tangled mess.

Muffled by less-than-desirable production, Zann lurches wildly between loose structure and smoldering chaos. Unless you speak German, a song like "Metal Schutztz vor AÜssage" doesn't carry any thought-provoking revelations. Other songs such as "Liver Fighter Wild Bullrider" and "Too Fast for Love" — which, sadly, is not a German cover of the Motley Crue song — unleash heartbreaking drum and guitar melodies that clash and fade. Each song spills into the next in a gurgling stream of grinding, unintelligible racket. Whether the songs are in German or English is anyone's guess, though the lyrics are printed in both languages.

The crux of Blame Game's sound is in its ability to pull off deformed and constantly mutating moments in rhythm. "Blue Ribbon" and "Yute" swagger with a clumsy stride that at once recalls the unorthodox arrangements of Captain Beefheart and the metrical harmony of Can, all bound by concentrated aggression. Likewise, Blame Game has included lyrics, but the words are printed in German and Spanish, making things even more confusing. The unintelligible vocals carry just as much abstract tension as the rest of the instrumentation, but as with Zann, any coherent message is lost in translation.

Blame Game plays MJQ's Drunken Unicorn Sat., March 6. Call for ticket price.