Screaming Females – All at Once

For over 10 years now, few punk bands have matched the ferocity and creative drive of Screaming Females. On one hand, the New Jersey-based band represents a simpler way of doing things. They’re D.I.Y. punks with the ambition and talent to play larger venues without compromising. At the same time, the trio’s sound and approach has always been bigger and more ambitious than the average band that broke out of the basement back when anything labeled “garage” turned heads for being different.

Like most solid bands with a healthy lifespan, Screaming Females is a sum of its parts. That said, heaping high praise on guitarist and singer Marissa Paternoster remains unavoidable. Her talents as a kickass guitar shredder and the possessor of a huge, dynamic and instantly recognizable singing voice always makes recordings or live shows something special. So of course, new album All At Once soars whenever the band’s frontwoman pushes the trio into familiar creative territory.

Produced by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Pearl Jam), the Screamales’ newest long-player focuses on the band as a tight unit that can downright melt your face with hot riffs and fiery screams. The title track and “Agnes Martin” best exemplify these heavy rock tendencies. The latter serves up especially bone-chilling lyrics that may or may not be about an abstract artist from Canada. On it, Paternoster sounds like she’s ready to charge Hell with a water pistol when she repeatedly and furiously shouts “THE SUN DESTROYS ME!”

It’s not all heavy riffage and guttural screaming, though. Some songs, including herky-jerky post-punk throwback “Dirt” and bluesy slow-burner “End of My Bloodline,” prove the band’s versatility while giving bassist “King” Mike Abbate and drummer Jarrett Dougherty ample spotlight to prove that they too fuel the controlled wildfire that is Screaming Females.

Screaming Females
All At Once
[Don Giovanni]