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ALBUM OF THE DAY: MAX PLANCK – ‘KILL THE PAIN’
Sometimes you win by losing.It is strange to think that a band that put out only one demo in 1985 can inspire heavy metal enthusiasm in this dark age of 2010. But music can be a timeless form of communication and Max Plänck are that type of band. Growing out of the Pacific Northwest, Plänck consisted of guitarist/singer Rod “Road Warrior” Freeman, fifteen-year-old drummer Eddie Forcier, and MILF/bassist Colleen “Spike” McCormick. One of the few true metal bands playing around the Washington area, when they couldn’t get gigs at nightclubs or bars in Seattle they would set up stages in the forests that surrounded their hometown of Port Townsend.
It is easy now to look back at Max Plänck and point out who they sound like, but it must have took some audacious vision to come up with something that today lies somewhere between early Manilla Road, Jefferson Airplane, even early Scorpions; an overlap with psychedelic elements and straight ahead fast rockers blaring through fittingly primitive production quality. This is the type of genre defying stuff that gives major labels bouts of anxiety. One song, ‘Starscream’, is about the Transformers cartoon show. Also well trod is the ever-popular theme of indoctrinating the masses through religion, a theme that is unfortunately more relevant than ever. “All across the nations/the cultists didn’t see/All their crazy stories couldn’t fool eternity/All the promised people/they went to church anyway/They thought their sect would resurrect/on the judgement day.”
The vinyl release of, ‘Kill The Pain’ from Buried By Time And Dust Records includes an eight-page booklet full of old photos and fanzine interviews. One interview in particular features this gem from Rod Freeman: “Metal goes way back before it was even called metal. Metal is true rock ‘n’ roll. It’s just that a lot of limp ‘pop music’ bands and clever mediaoids have defiled the name of rock ‘n’ roll, until today most of the best stuff isn’t even getting any airplay.”
Solid gold. Again, it is impossible not to notice the relevance of that sentiment 25 years later. Metal is more popular than ever, but largely portrayed in the mainstream press as overly extreme or worse, ironic. In their day, artists like Chuck Berry, Elvis, and Link Wray were considered dangerous because, for a time, they represented rebellion. The world being what it is today, artistic rebellion has necessarily become more extreme. But it’s only rock ‘n’ roll. Unfortunately it is rare, even in the realm of what is called metal, to find bands like Max Plänck, who seem to have created music without consideration of whether their style was commercially viable.
It is hard to say why the band called it quits. Things could not have been easy, considering Rod and Spike were married at the time, raising two kids, practicing, probably working regular jobs, and putting on their own shows in the fucking woods. But even now, this album retains the palpable spirit of a band who, at least for a while, pushed back against the tyranny of the rat race. In 1985 there were certainly more successful, more proficient bands playing metal, but that’s not the point. In the case of Max Plänck, guts and daring win over technicality and precision