Alongside Pissed Jeans and (the now sadly defunct) Violent Students, Clockcleaner have helped usher in an era of virulent and twisted discord that the Philly scene has scarcely, if ever, witnessed in its lifespan. By melding the craphole aesthetics of gutter punk with low-rent dub and scuzzbottom noise-rock they've created a deafening racket all their own (one they've dubbed "skull music"), a sort of anti-CBGB's sonic manifesto for the discouraged and downtrodden to rally behind. The burly trio's sophomore album is the scene's most accomplished yet, which, for a bunch of scudbottom punks, is really saying quite a bit, or perhaps, not much at all.
Babylon Rules is dark, deranged and quite possibly, the best, rock 'n' roll album of 2007. It eschews convention in favor of pure animalistic bile, and in an era where far too many bands are playing the squeaky clean indie card for all its worth, it's nice to have a bunch of honest-to-god hell raisers around to let 'em know what a bunch of pussies they are. They don't like your band. Hell, they probably wouldn't even spit on you were you on fire.
The knobby surf riff that opens "New in Town" sounds like Bauhaus gang-raping Dick Dale, smearing gothic ooze guitars over a clattering rhythmic drive that sounds as though it was cribbed from a Hammerhead record circa 1994. Things only get gnarlier from there, with the aptly-titled "Vomiting Mirrors" spewing vitriol from every pore of its being, while the garrulous bass riff of "When My Ship Comes In" completely eviscerates anything that even remotely resembles a melody. Elsewhere, AmRep-style noise blowouts sidle up against barroom piano rolls, vocals bury themselves in the dirt and guitar lines vacillate from stunningly FX-drenched to downright out-of-tune, never caring one way or another if they end up in the penthouse or the gutter.
Clockcleaner have come completely out of left field with Babylon Rules, a nauseated masterpiece that, despite its crusty faÃ§ade, wrings a strange virtuosity from within its haphazard cacophony. Even if they don't know it, or want it for that matter, the strides they've made here point towards the band lifting themselves out of the muck and making an actual run at something resembling credibility.