“Caught Up in the Gears of Application”

by Thor

Superjoint—formerly known as Superjoint Ritual—is something of a hardcore band and it’s the brainchild of none other than Phil Anselmo whose storied metal biography includes fronting Pantera and Down, and being one of the biggest, brashest, and most controversial personalities in the genre’s history.

“Caught Up in the Gears of Application” is the band’s latest effort after a decade-plus of feud-induced dormancy.  Back with a modified line-up and in the midst of Anselmo’s latest self-inflicted PR disaster, Superjoint has unleashed a unique, if not entirely palatable album to the metal masses.

The band plays what is at its essence hardcore, but it’s infused with an eclectic bunch of underground, extreme elements, too, making it somewhat hard to define.  Broadly, though, it’s full of dissonant, abrasive production, it’s fast, and it’s repetitive.

Superjoint’s first two albums were all of these things, too, but those albums were more refined and subsequently more accessible.  “Caught Up in the Gears of Application” is an exhausting listen.  And I have no doubt that this is not an accident.  It elicits discomfort and chaos and at my age, that’s not a headspace I enjoy being in for too long.
Anselmo rails against the perils of social media and the internet press, the modern iteration of the social justice movement, and whatever myriad demons still obviously residing inside his head.  These ideas come down like hammers from atop a soapbox in hell.  It’s unlike anything I’ve heard, including the band’s prior output which is an asset, but again, it’s not a comfortable listen.  

And while I agree with some of the sentiments expressed by the cantankerous front man on “Caught Up in the Gears of Application,” it’s difficult for me to jump on board given his recent, racist public outburst and embarrassing rationalizing afterward.  I’m an advocate for separating the art from the artist for the purposes of critical evaluation, but here I have failed.  So be it.