Muscle and Marrow – The Human Cry

Muscle and Marrow have steadily been carving a name for themselves into the tree trunk of heavy/weird music for a little while now. The carving reads “Muscle & Marrow <3’s scary as fuck atmosphere.” If you think that’s a bit of a wordy thing to carve into a tree, then you suck at comprehending allegory.  Let’s wander a little further into this creepy ass, verbose forest shall we?


Muscle and Marrow are Kira Clark and Keith Moon… no wait, Keith Moon is that dead guy. McGraw. Keith McGraw. If it seems like this review is a little more humorous than it should be, its an attempt to mitigate the ponderous atmosphere Clark and McGraw conjure on nearly every track on Human Cry. Clark vacillates between shrieking like an affluent madwoman with an otorhinolaryngologist on retainer and the female version of a still smacked-out Nick Cave, her guitar all chunky, broken up clean tones and angular riffs, suffused with calamitous doom and generous heaps of gain and low end to compensate for their lack of a less than six string duties puller. McGraw doesn’t so much play drums as he beats the shit out of them. It’s like a gang of drum sets murdered his whole family and he caught one of them in a twisted revenge plot, and this is its fate now; regularly bludgeoned by into the stone age with a primordial slave rhythm transmitted directly via brainstem to batter head by a mad hortator.


Songwise, Muscle and Marrow are on some other shit. Tunes kind of float by with little regard for traditional structure, but that’s fine because Clark and McGraw have a great sense of drama and pacing. Without transcribed lyrics, it’d be difficult know exactly what Clark is on about, but the exorbitantly dire and emotive quality of her voice is enough to know it’s probably not kittens and Lisa Frank. Bits of fractured intelligibility come through like a broken telegraph message from the front lines of a supernatural interdimensional WWIII, and only the most disturbing parts are making any sense. “Release, release me…” implores Clark at the end of The Human Cry’s opener, “Surround the Fire.” The title and atmospheric content evoking a group of elements worn souls in the dark wilderness, huddled around the dying embers of some fading coals, a Wendigo stalking the skies above, anticipating its next quivering victim. Some of her final words on the album’s closer “Spirits” are no less ominous;

“The lawyer’s teeth, his mouth, his lips, his throat, his tongue were all so red.
So wildly red.
And all I had to offer him was shaking white that I call flesh.”

Human Cry isn’t all doom and gloom, though. Well, most of it is. Okay, like 99.99% of it is, but there’s a veneer of prettiness that encapsulates the whole filthy package. Kinda like receiving a severed head in a really nicely wrapped box, or cupcakes with pictures of war atrocities on them. Muscle and Marrow confect their gloom crumpets with enough sugar to mask the taste of the poison, and even then, the poison’s pretty toothsome as well.

Human Cry will likely appeal to fans of Chelsea Wolf’s more doom oriented leanings, Sub Rosa’s fem fronted tactical sadness assault and, oddly, there’s a dash of Gun Club meets The Birthday Party via Earth in there too. A strong first effort from Portland’s rising “wtf” scene.


Muscle and Marrow Official Facebook

Written by Mort Subite

Muscle and Marrow – Human Cry
Belief Mower Records
3.8 / 5