The Almighty Defenders are a new band featuring Black Lips and the King Khan & BBQ Show. This group is heavy on the monstrosities, light on the folk. After Black Lips’ disastrous tour of India last January (they angered many with their notorious onstage behavior), they met up with fellow garage-punks King Khan and Mark “BBQ” Sultan to record half an hour’s worth of post-modern gospel rock. Well, of course.
Though the gospel label may put off those expecting a somewhat greasier product from the reigning kings of garage sleaze, the Defenders are setting out as prophets of funk more than anything – “holy” hardly describes the Defenders’ screechy preaching. Instead, they sound almost exactly how you’d think a Black Lips/King Khan & BBQ Show lovechild would sound. They’ve taken Black Lips’ crunchy guitars, inhuman wailing, and frat-boy sense of humor, thrown in a bit of the King Khan & BBQ Show’s soulful swagger, plus both bands’ love of shoddy production, to create a couple of anti-gospel gospel tributes.
Recorded in a week in Berlin, the Almighty Defenders’ self-titled debut sounds like drunken buddies having fun recording a jam session in their basement. The opening track, “All My Loving” – a grooving tribute to hand-clapping, amen-shouting Southern churches – is quickly offset by a strange invocation of the Holy Ghost on “The Ghost with the Most.” There are moments in “30 Second Air Blast” and “Death Cult Soup n’ Salad” that are largely composed of squeals, grunts, and Three Stooges impressions.
The Defenders’ biggest problem, though, is production. They lose the balance between rough around the edges and plain incomprehensible. The vocals barely reach the mic, the guitars are fuzzed beyond recognition, and the drums sound like they’re being hit with rain sticks.
“The Almighty Defenders” is a fun listen. There are some good tracks and they have a cute concept, but all in all, these prophets fail to inspire faith.