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German punk band crafts great piece of grotesque

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Shock value has always had a place in modern music. Artists from Alice Cooper to Eminem have used bombastic and controversial lyrics to simultaneously draw in curious listeners while pushing away the old world order that decried their efforts. The Other, a German punk band, is the most recent act to rattle society’s comfort level.

The band’s music sticks to a theme of cinematic horror (drummer Dr. Caligari takes his name from the classic German expressionist film, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”), but it doesn’t thrust grotesque brutality onto listeners like some metal acts. The group’s single “Back To The Cemetery” covers a bizarre subject matter, but it doesn’t threaten to make the listener ill. The subject matter in question is grave robbing. The band makes the topic subtly humorous by putting a modern “green” spin on the idea: dead bodies are recyclable.

The band’s ideas for reuse will make the listener cringe and smirk at the same time: consumption a la “Soilent Green,” organ harvesting and, in a more interesting interpretation, a lamp shade.

Vocalist Rod Usher lists the morbid options in his dramatic voice, while guitarist Sarge von Rock adds a thrash riff, and Caligari keeps pace with both bass drums kicking.

The song’s refrain is the cherry on top and brings The Other back to its punk roots. The anthemic shouting of the song’s title is reminiscent of early AFI and other politically incorrect punk standards, such as the Dead Kennedys’ satirical “Kill The Poor.” The Other has picked up right where the original “horrorcore” band, The Misfits, left off.

“Back To The Cemetery” might be tougher to understand than most of the tracks on the list, but a close listen will reveal that like any “South Park” episode, all of the shock is done in the name of having a good time. As the song states, “grave robbing is a delight,” and so is the song itself.

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