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In George Romero’s 1968 zombie classic Night of the Living Dead, there’s a point at which reasonable hope of survival morphs into primal fear as the film unfolds a black-and-white nightmare of gore, gunshots and getaways. During a Death Hymn Number 9 set, there’s a point at which the common structure and energy level you’ve come to expect from a local band is swapped for something far more visceral, bloody and entertaining than you imagined.
Armed with fiery intensity, red dye and face paint at each show, Death Hymn are liable to get a wide-eyed reaction before they even play a note. The band’s gimmickry extends to their stage names: guitarist “Rack ’Em Frack ’Em,” drummer “Sleazy P,” percussionist “Slimy Blime,” and tambourine players “Brother Cecil” and the “Rev. Blind Whitey.” But that’s where such antics end, as their stripped-down blues and rocket-powered thrash come together in a perfect, unholy union, with genuine skills and musicianship at the core.
Though their sound has never relied on a lead singer, the band still have the freedom to add essential vocals. Blood-curdling, off-mic screams cut through the distortion and cymbal smashes to provide the final touches of their trademark insanity on songs such as “Gospel” and “I Reckon You’re Gonna Die” (both currently streaming on their MySpace). The band are currently working on a 7-inch split vinyl with Alejandro’s Awesome Surf Band (featuring members of the Sweet Sweet Things), set to come out in late July. As they continue piling on stacks of sweaty bar gigs from Costa Mesa to LA, they are more than happy to come to your town, set up their gear and scare the crap out of you.
Death Hymn Number 9 with the Dynotones, the Detailers and Blind Whitey at the Tropics Lounge, 1842 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-1977; www.myspace.com/thetropicslounge. Fri., 8 p.m. $5. 21+. Visit the band at www.myspace.com/deathhymnnumber9.