Producing landmark alternative rock albums such as Nirvana’s In Utero and the Pixies Surfer Rosa Steve Albini is more well known for his signature production style then his guitar playing. Nevertheless Albini is also a well respected guitarist, most notable for being the lead singer/songwriter of Big Black. When with Big Black Albini wrote the majority of the material on the bands biggest underground noise-punk album, Songs About ***ing. Creating one of the most gruesome and violent albums of the late 80’s Big Black shockingly broke up shortly after the release. After disbanding Big Black Steve Albini met up with David Sims and Rey Washam (the bassist and drummer of Scratch Acid) to form Rapeman.
Unlike Big Black, Rapeman use Rey Washam as their drummer instead of a drum machine. Washam’s quick-paced, heavy drumming gives the music a much more sludgy and sloppy sound. Whereas Big Black would create harsh walls of noise surrounding the listener with droney sounds Rapeman have a much more riff-oriented and punk-esque quality to their music. Boasting raw, serrated guitars matched with thunderous drumming Two Nuns, and A Pack Mule is one abrasive ride. Being a typical Albini recording the vocals are mixed in extremely low making it difficult to understand a word that Steve is yelping. As a result the overall sound of the album is chaotic and muddy; because the drums are so loud in the mix Rapeman have a rather heavy sound. Tracks such as “Up Beat”and “Radar Love Lizard” demonstrate this perfectly as they focus on pulsating drum beats matched with Albini’s snarly voice and jagged guitar riffs.
One aspect that really benefits the album is the way the vocals are mixed in with the instruments. Steve’s voice is added so low in the mix that they are nearly impossible to decipher. This benefits the record because the lyrical content is mortally offensive; right out of the gate Albini is already barking lines such as”[i]Why don’t you stuff it, man/You plant-eating pussy![i]”. This kind of offensive lyrical content is present throughout the forty minutes of Two Nuns and A Pack Mule adding an even more unsettling vibe to the music.
In contrast to Big Black’s more stagnant and industrial sound Rapeman are just a trio of guys playing punk rock music at its dirtiest, grimiest, and nastiest form. Two Nuns and A Pack Mule certainly isn’t the most unique effort that Steve Albini has been involved in but it really brings the chaos. After listening to forty minutes of this adrenaline pumping rock fest I feel as if I could beat the *** out of Mike Tyson.