The Oswald Effect
Battle Hymns of the Fifth Column
Self Released (2007)
By P.W. Richardson
The Oswald Effect capture a broad range of influences and come out the other end with a unique blend of cool on their self-released debut LP Battle Hymns of the Fifth Column. The album is a dark jest at the power of money and the corruption of humanity, on which T.O.E. tackle a bizarre array of grim topics – from incest to assassination – in an eleven-song tongue twister.
T.O.E.’s sound is rich with the warm crunch of loudly ringing guitars. Heath Bauer’s vocals are insanely raw at times, swinging from crawling word play into jaguar screams at the drop of a sixteenth note.
Bauer’s battle-scream singing style transforms this avalanche manifesto into a story of death, pain, fear and betrayal. The words tend to fly by as you sit back and let the coffin-nail tight rhythm section pound you into submission. And the band’s engine roars under the glowing flurry of notes guitarist Aaron Walters fires off among Bauer’s vocal licks. All the rock and roll bluster here is not without some seedier moments.
On ‘Bring Your Precision,’ the band reaches down under its collective seats to finger the wads of chewed gum. Musically, this is my favorite song, but I must admit that the lyrics are beyond my understanding. Bauer sings, “All of us want to have a piece of you, but we will all be masqueraded from head to toe, bring you’re precision girl, I got to control your world with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, a thick pill in your drink after which in the pink I will sink, I will have my way with you, when you hit the ground…” The only thing I can even possibly think is that this was an attempt to write something akin to Nirvana’s ‘Polly.’ The band, however, really misses the mark on this one. I am no priest and I am not licensed to practice medicine, but it might be wise if whichever one of you wrote this had your head examined. – (6/10)