Raw Power Writings: Death Hymn Number 9

On April 10, 2013 by Simon Weedn

Raw Power Writings with Simon Weedn


Simon_image1The first time I saw Death Hymn Number 9, their bass player wasn’t there and their guitar player broke several strings about three songs into their set. None of the other bands playing that day would lend Death Hymn an emergency guitar, and their performance was cut short. At the time I remember thinking it odd that nobody would come to Death Hymn’s aid and spot them a guitar for the thirty minutes it would have taken to finish their set. I know now, after seeing Death Hymn live several times since, that loaning anything to a band like that is done so at your own extreme risk. To describe the Los Angeles quartet as explosive would be an understatement. The band’s live sets are the sonic equivalent Simon_image2of a hydrogen bomb detonation; if instead of radioactivity, the bomb blasted out a ferocious assault of some of the rawest 50’s rock and roll/60’s garage rock-inspired punk you’ve ever heard in your life. The band’s bedlam inspiring aural mayhem combined with their zombiefied presentation, the frenetic guitar playing of Troy Bootow, the wall shaking rhythm section of bass player Justin Smith and drummer Patrick Tapia, and front man Paul Gonzalez’s Iggy Pop-esque stage presence is truly a sight to behold. These characteristics are quickly building Death Hymn a reputation across Southern California as a must see act.

For those of you out there that enjoy truly lo-fi production and recordings then Death Hymn’s first and (so far) only release Smoke Stack Frightening is the record for you. The record essentially takes the band’s already exceptionally raw sound and strips them with a power sander before rubbing rock salt into its coarse auditory texture. The effect is the exaggeration of Death Hymn’s rough qualities, turning this little eight song EP into a beasSimon_image3t capable of knocking your house off its foundations. Howling guitars, bottom heavy drums and bass, and the moans, wails, shouts, and bellows of the vocals all blend together to make this a piece of garage punk perfection.

For those of you that already own Smoke Stack Frightening and are pining for more, keep your eyes peeled for a new Death Hymn release coming in May on Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles record label. If the band’s current performances are accurately represented in these new recordings, entitled 3rd Degree Moon Burns, then we may need to replace our stereo systems after every listening.


If you’re looking for a band whose music and live performance will deliver the hard, steel toed, kick in the teeth you’ve always wanted, then Death Hymn Number 9 are the group to shock and delight your senses. If you’re local to the greater Los Angeles area, then it’s in your best interests to see these fellas live. They are an act of unmatched ferocity in LA’s underground scene.

Death Hymn Number 9 Facebook

Images courtesy of Monique Hernandez (Grimy Goods) and Shannon Nehls (OC Weekly).

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