“Ho-Lee shit. Somewhere in New Jersey, six dudes are whipping up a blinding series of ultra-vertiginous, highly satisfying death/grind/noise/tech-metal shit fits that give new meaning to the phrase "quadraphonic sound." go get this thing and figure it out for yourself." - ALTERNATIVE PRESS
"The technical skill of these guys is way above par, and although it might take a couple times listening through the CD to grasp all that’s going on, it’s fully worth it." - SYNTHESIS
The mongrel has a fucking headache. The mongrel drinks because you cry. The mongrel wants revenge for every shitty thing you’ve done. For every backbiting insult, every careless slight, every vicious blow. It’s tearing him (it?) from the inside out.
A product of harried miscegenation, a foaming mix-breed halved and re-halved by the pitifully obvious and the suddenly homicidal, Mongrel is a collusion of conflicting desires and uncontrollable urges, a heart-eating hellion seesawing wildly between the need for stasis and an unflinching commitment to violence. It’s also the third full-length from New Jersey six-piece The Number Twelve Looks Like You. “It’s most definitely a concept album,” vocalist Jesse “Jase” Korman explains. “When we started writing the songs, not one sounded like another—or any of our old songs—and none of them as a whole sound like anything out there. It’s like a schizophrenic person, or a mongrel.”
Despite the fact that the album’s lyrics were written by Korman and fellow Number 12 vocalist Justin Pedrick, the songs themselves represent the erratic viewpoints of one character, the titular Mongrel. Album opener “Imagine Nation Express” is “about a friend who just turned into a bastard,” Korman explains. “The whole thing is an imaginary scenario about his body being tied to two different trains that rip him apart and then me dancing on the remains.”
“El Piñata De La Muerte” is similarly punitive. “That was about a stepfather of mine who was a very physically abuse person and did a lot of fucked up things,” Korman offers. “He got deported back to the Philippines, so the song is about me going to the Philippines and torturing him with his own body parts—hanging him like a piñata and using his own limbs to split him open.”
Which is to say that Mongrel is considerably more personal—and graphic—than 2005’s Nuclear. Sad. Nuclear., an album that Alternative Press called “a blinding series of ultra-vertiginous, highly satisfying death/grind/noise/tech-metal shit-fits that give new meaning to the phrase ‘quadraphonic sound.’”
“Above all, Mongrel is a very emotionally-driven project,” Pedrick says. “We wanted to get back to something personal instead of trying to please someone. I don’t wanna say the last album felt fake, but we definitely tried to write a record that people would like. This time, we wrote about things that mean a lot to us.”
Sonically, Mongrel is a dizzying rhythmic vortex propelled by angular shredding, algebraic drum work, paint-peeling screams/shrieks/grunts, torrential bass moves, dicey time signatures and the occasional flamenco guitar break. And then, suddenly—as on “Jay Walking Backwards”—it’s something else entirely: A melodic jazz-grind triumph, a wink and a nod to post-rock enthusiasts and fret-obsessed math commandos alike. Flawlessly executed and crisply recorded (with producer Casey Bates in Seattle, Washington), we might add.
The pre-Nuclear back-story goes like this: Korman and Pedrick met through a mutual acquaintance in 2002 and formed the bass-free outfit And Ever, releasing a five-song demo and playing a handful of shows before changing their name to The Number Twelve Looks Like You (a reference to an episode of The Twilight Zone) in 2003, adding a bassist and releasing their debut, Put On Your Rosy Red Glasses. Jersey’s own Eyeball Records caught wind and released the band’s An Inch Of Gold For An Inch Of Time EP—which featured a cover of The Knack’s 1979 super hit, “My Sharona”—in early 2005.
Since then, the Number 12 dudes have been slogging across North America with bands as disparate and diverse as Ed Gein, Minus The Bear, Fear Before The March Of Flames and Thursday in support of Nuclear. Sad. Nuclear. With the recent addition of new bassist Chris Russell—who joins Korman, Pedrick, drummer Jon Karel and guitarists Alex Pareja and Jamie Mcilroy—the band will spend a fair chunk of their summer upending this year’s Sounds Of The Underground Tour alongside such notables as Every Time I Die, Shadows Fall, Darkest Hour and GWAR.
By then, Mongrel’s reckoning will be well underway. “Everything is as raw and real as you’re gonna get,” Korman says. “We’re out to prove something, and we’re out to kick some major ass.”