1/  Tortured Souls                             (PainKiller)                  1.52
  2/  One-Eyed Pessary                           (PainKiller)                  1.50
  3/  Trailmarker                                (PainKiller)                  0.03
  4/  Blackhole Dub                              (PainKiller)                  3.29
  5/  Buried Secrets                             (PainKiller,Broadrick,Green)  6.13
  6/  The Ladder                                 (PainKiller)                  0.22
  7/  Executioner                                (PainKiller)                  2.48
  8/  Black Chamber                              (PainKiller)                  2.28
  9/  Skinned                                    (PainKiller)                  0.54
  10/ The Toll                                   (PainKiller,Broadrick,Green)  6.25

          Recorded in August & October 1991 at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, NY
          Recorded and mixed by Oz Fritz
          Assistant engineer: Imad Mansour
          Produced by PainKiller
          Mastered by Howie Weinberg
John Zorn: alto; Bill Laswell: bass; Mick Harris: drums, vocals; Justin Broadrick (Tracks 5,10): guitar, drum machine, vocals; G.C. Green (Tracks 5,10): bass.

          1992 - Earache (UK), MOSH 62 (12")
          1992 - Earache (UK), MOSH 62CD (CD)
          1992 - Relativity (USA), 88561-1108-2 (CD)
          1992 - Toys Factory (Japan), TFCK-88569 (CD)
          1998 - Earache (USA), MOSH 198 (CD)
Note: The 1998 re-release was one CD containing this release and Guts of a Virgin.


It was Opposite Day when Mick Harris, John Zorn and Bill Laswell named their little project Painkiller, because quite frankly, the noise and aural atrocities performed here are very much causing much agony. I've never quite been able to completely stand John Zorn's squacking saxophone. While he is able to occasionally create some interesting sounds, much of the screeching and unrestrained noise comes across as tired and annoying. Meanwhile, Laswell and Harris create a varied barrage of backing sounds, anywhere from dub (which works remarkably well) to all out punk fest to blast beat destruction. Add some shouts, subtract song structure and you get a half hour of quite intolerable noise. Is there a point to this? Was it fun for the musician's to create? Undoubtedly. But be sure you are of the highest tolerance for unbearable noises in the guise of normal instruments before you bother with Painkiller.

John Chedsey (courtesy of Satan Stole My Teddybear website)


Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes me check out music like this. Is it the brutality, the ugliness, the potential to offend, the randomness, the explicit cover art? Most people wouldn’t even call this ‘music’ when facing a .44 at close range. It must be the sheer extremity of it all that attracts me. I’ve always had periods in my life that I sort of “investigated” issues/material that most people consider “not done,” whether it’s the Faces of Death-series, serial killers, cannibalism, Satanism, Phil Collins’ catalogue or Bob Saget’s Full House-series, and I guess it’s the same with Zorn’s explorations of noise at the fringes of what could be called ‘music,’ the main difference being that this infatuation has been going on for more than a decade by now. I do not enjoy this music, I can’t play this when my parents or friends come around and I’m not even allowed to play it when my girlfriend is around, because it gives her an irregular heartbeat (I swear it’s true). I guess it’s the racket’s nearly physical impact that intrigues me the most: it’s music that defies all rules and tries to push the boundaries as far as possible, further than you imagined was possible. The theory that my girlfriend usually comes up with is that I need this inhumanly brutal music to satisfy my psychotic side that otherwise would make me kill or torture people or something, but I’m not buying that. I’m an Average Joe, but I just need to get my kicks.

Enough rambling. Buried Secrets is as consumer-friendly as Guts of a Virgin, but somehow it feels different. The grindcore-infatuation is kept intact with the three tumultuous seconds of “Trailmarker” and the twenty-two of “The Ladder,” but this album seems a bit more about atmosphere and, uh, structure. Or you could see it like this: whereas the debut is like shooting someone point blank, Buried Secrets feels like shooting someone point blank, after having beaten them unconscious with a baseball bat. There’s a sickening alternation of gut-wrenching, horrible noise – I bet most people out there can’t even imagine the terror of hearing Zorn’s sounds during “Tortured Souls” (adequate title, by the way) or “One-Eyed Pessary” – and doom-laden heaviness (“Blackhole Dub, which features a few sections of noir sax) that’s only equalled by apocalyptic industrial band Neurosis on a very bad day. Another difference is the appearance of Justin Broadrick (guitar, drum machine) and G.C. Green (bass), both from Godflesh, on the release’s longest tracks, “Buried Secrets” and “The Toll.” Their contributions take the already completely fucked-up music to even more insane levels, raising the question whether the real goal of the music has got something to do with learning how to deal with traumatic experiences and going through them once again. It’s exceptionally confrontational and seems motivated by the need to mirror mankind’s cruellest and sickest deeds. In short, it has the capacity to make one physically ill. My girlfriend just walked into the room and said while “The Toll” was playing that it’s ‘the music to kill to.’ She’s right, I need to stop it. Buried Secrets isn’t even a good album, but it sure is an experience.

Note: I do wonder, though, what would happen if I could blast this through the speakers of some religious discussion group in the middle of one of their sessions. I bet it would crack me up.

6 out of 10

Guy Peters (courtesy of the Guys Reviews Site website)


Bare naked ladies spanking one another on one sleeve; pictures of unearthed skulls and thrillkill-graffitti on the other. I don't think we're in the Good-Vibration State anymore, Toto. Insert your emerald-stained earplugs: we're off to see (hear) the Wizard of Zorn. "Buried Secrets" pits the Mighty One's squealy sax against BILL LASWELL's deep dub bass and MICK HARRIS's Speedmetal shudder-drums. JUSTIN "GODFLESH" BROADRICK adds occasional guitar-scrawl (G.C. "GODFLESH" GREEN equally occasional yelling). The terrain is physical sound - rock amplification, improv-scraping, "Metal Box" high-and-low-frequency play. Mostly slow, and very amped-up at their end, to get the acoustic effects and harmonic partials: it can of course be played back quietly to hear and appreciate the music without plugs, though they won't appreciate you if you do. Warning: at a little less than 20 minutes (ten tracks, only two more than three minutes), this is a very, very short CD. My boss told me to say this.

ZORN has a kind of pathological inability to present himself in a way that doesn't raise hackles among his peers, or suspicions: is he a real wizard, or a fake one? Consider: he's convinced EARACHE (to all intents and purposes a Midlands DeathMetal label) to put out his records on a regular basis. You judge magic on it's efficacy, not its foundations, sense, logic, morals.

He is also fundamentally correct: this splinter-form, scramble-jangle-flicker music,, this frenetic non-soundtrack soundtrack, is a step beyond 60's / 70's total improv, and not, unlike most other such steps, simply a step back towards something that already existed (composition, sonic sculpture, performance art) .....

The Oz-moral, Toto: wasn't it that what you wanted of the wizard you'd unknowingly brought with you (heart, brains, courage)? And that you couldn't get out of Oz what you were (all too doggedly, Toto) not already looking for? Where's that idea get us?

Hopey Glass from THE WIRE 105