Unit F – Hollow City

Unit F
Hollow City

Hello, class. It’s just about time for all of you prospective college students out there to take your SAT tests. That’s why we’re going to spend today’s class reviewing how to take a standardized test. Fill out your name. Yes, excellent, put your address there as well. Now why don’t we take a crack at some sample problems? First a math problem.

6x+1=31; solve for “x”
A. x= 2
B. x= 4
C. x=5
D. x=12

If you chose “C,” you found the right answer! Now, let’s move on to a Reading for Understanding question. Remember, class, the test makers always throw in one answer that is out of the question-make sure you eliminate that choice.

“Scrappy, whose mounted, mohawked baboon skull stands snarling as a symbol of animal aggression and stark defense of perseverance and self-determination.”
Choose the answer that best describes where the sentence might be found:

A. A National Geographic magazine article describing a primitive, aboriginal tribe.
B. On the packaging of the new “X-Men Battle Fortress” toy.
C. In the discarded lines from the original “Spinal Tap” script.
D. The band bio for the Sacramento punk-metal quintet Unit F.

If you picked “D,” you chose the correct answer!

I’m really sorry. Truly, I am. This is not some sort of cruel joke. The painfully silly sentence above really did come from the press release of Unit F, a band that really does perform with a mohawked baboon skull on stage. (They sent pictures too!) This band really should watch “Spinal Tap” (in fact, anyone even remotely considering joining a band should probably see that movie-just think of how many disasters could be avoided). This is a band that can’t really decide if they’re metal or punk, but, quite frankly, it hardly matters.

I really don’t want to describe this music-its that painful. But alas, I must. Unit F sounds kind of like a hardcore band, mixed with bad metal solos from the 80’s. The songs chug along with cliched power chord progressions, hit a brief, shouted chorus, then launch into a painful solo. The singer has all the melodic sense of Ian Curtis of Joy Division (none…though it must be noted that Joy Division was an excellent and influential band).

Now, none of this would be so bad, maybe, if Unit F were just sort of joking around. The problem is, they’re completely serious, and they attempt to tackle a slew of topics, none of which should be covered by a band that sounds this ridiculous. Everything from love (“Subject to change/that bitch fucked with my head/subject to change”) to social activism (“I can’t, something’s just not right/and I won’t you’ve fueled all of my spite/I’ll not join the parading slaves/I’ll fight his fucking thing to my goddamned grave”), religion (the song “Jesus in Spaghetti”), and even self reflection (“Empty feelings/I’m always feeling/I can’t stop stealing/They won’t quit dealing/I’m always reeling/They’re always stealing”). As if those lyrics weren’t enough, the singer finds the need to shout something like “The struggle never ends!” at the end of every song.

I truly don’t like to speak this badly about any band, but this music is just absurd. 80’s hair metal revivalists? Fine. Comically aggressive hardcore? Please see Right Direction. Even sociopolitical lyrics? Whatever. When you try and combine these ideas and throw them at a singer who’s never even heard a melody (might have spent his days listening to a steady diet of hardcore), what you have is a comically aggressive, socially aware punk band with poor solos. On the upside, you might be able to use this to get a laugh from your friends. Maybe.