Jimmy Smack - Death Is Certain LP (Knekelhuis, 2022)
"Across two 7”s, Death Or Glory (1982) and Death Rocks (1983) and one 12”, Anguish (1982) Jimmy Smack carved his own bleak chasm amidst the LA Death Rock scene that he inhabited. After decades dormant in the crypt, Knekelhuis finally compiles Smack’s full recorded output, providing it a lavish place to rest on the Death Is Certain LP.
While his local punk contemporaries pursued aggressive hardcore and political punk, Jimmy Smack donned corpse paint (before it would later become synonymous with the European black metal movement) and found a home performing in venues like the Anti-Club, amongst other subterranean dwellers Christian Death, Dead Hippie and 45 Grave.
Even within this lurid milieu, Jimmy Smack stood alone. Hating Life (from Death Rocks) easily locates Jimmy within the negative-punk and KBD lexicon. However his recordings, consisting of voice, rhythm box and electrified bagpipe drones, otherwise veer closer to other-worldly avant-garde rituals. Jimmy’s background in theatre and performance art helping inform not only his menacing stage presence, but also spawning the singularity of his sound.
Death Is Certain comes housed in a printed inner sleeve featuring rarely seen archival photos, liner notes by Cooper Bowman and excerpts from an interview with Jimmy Smack conducted by Juan Mendez (Silent Servant)." - Knekelhuis
"Okay, I realize that it was only a couple reviews ago that I had dubbed an album my archival find of the year (Narrow Adventure, if you somehow missed it), but it’s too close to call now that I’ve obtained a copy of Jimmy Smack’s Death Is Certain. I feel like a good portion of my nihilistic anti-social punk readership might’ve otherwise missed this one, released as it is by the venerable Knekelhuis label – they’re generally associated with forward-minded electronic dance music, even if often DIY in nature and closer to “uncategorizable” than “techno” or “house”. Anyway, Jimmy Smack came up in the very early ’80s death-rock scene, playing the same punk holes and police-pestered spaces as Black Flag and Circle Jerks, but his musical approach is different in sound if not entirely spirit. Using moody synths, bare-bones drum machines and a reverb pedal for his vocals, I am honestly shocked his music has remained undiscovered this long (he released only a couple impossibly-rare EPs in 1982 and 1983). Imagine if Bobby Soxx saw Throbbing Gristle in 1981 and decided to release the bats, or if Christian Death was a one-man primitive-synth project instead of a rock band. Some of the non-Western synth melodies remind of me something I’d expect to hear from Ghédalia Tazartès, yet at the same time I can absolutely picture members of Redd Kross and The Adolescents standing around kinda stunned, watching this freak in a jockstrap, boots and eyeliner dancing and eerily prophesizing over homemade beats. A crucial piece of Los Angeles’s early ’80s underground puzzle that I never knew was missing!" - Yellow Green Red