Who: Jay Mechling (guitar), Robert Comitz (vocals, guitar), Christian Carmine (bass), Chase Hall (drums).
Sounds Like: Nirvana circa In Utero if they decided to scrap the singles and go back to the underground for good.
For Fans Of: Jesus Lizard, Unsane, Godheadsilo.
Marriage + Cancer singer-guitarist Robert Comitz admits he spends more time writing lyrics than is probably necessary, given that all of them could just as easily be "fuck you."
"It's like, Brock Turner comes up," he says, referring to the convicted collegiate rapist. "Well, fuck him, and everybody like him. It's not just about Brock, but the other Brocks.
Anger, indeed, is the energy that powers Marriage + Cancer's blistering noise rock. And even if many of the words end up getting ripped to bits as they pass through Comitz's larynx, the message still comes through loud and…well, "loud" pretty much covers it. Dissonant guitars clang and scrape against each other, creating a wall of sound the sledgehammering rhythm section seems hellbent on demolishing. It's as unrelenting as the Portland winter, which the band agrees is not a coincidence.
"I think it's intrinsic and pervasive," says guitarist Jay Mechling. "When you live in this gray sort of thing, the grayness leaks in."
Comitz and Mechling first met in a sunnier but no less depressing place—Phoenix. When both escaped to Olympia, Wash., Comitz formed the dark garage-pop group Nucular Aminals, who eventually settled in Portland. After the original incarnation of that band fell apart, Comitz resurrected the Marriage + Cancer imprimatur he used for his solo bedroom recordings years earlier and gradually evolved the project in a more aggressive direction.
On their upcoming self-titled debut, the band hits on several noisy touchstones, from Sonic Youth to nearly the entire Amphetamine Reptile roster, with the raw production of a Steve Albini project. (In truth, Comitz recorded the album in his own Stop/Start studio.) But while the sound is vicious and punishing, it's not amelodic. Comitz's shredded howl bears more than a passing resemblance to Kurt Cobain, and like Cobain, he won't let his rage obscure a good melody.
"Something has to hold some of this shit together," he says. "I can't just ditch the pop aspect of things."
SEE IT: Marriage + Cancer plays Tonic Lounge, 3100 SE Sandy Blvd., with Hair Puller and Maximum Mad, on Saturday, Feb. 10. 8 pm. $8. 21+.