RELATED: The 90s were a helluva drug. You really had to be there, kid, but suffice it to say it was 10 years of unprecedented peace and prosperity, a pot in every chicken, 2.5 SUVs in every garage, a Clinton was president and Donald Trump ran beauty contests instead of the free world. In the 90s, the Internet went public and we all become tech stock billionaires overnight — all of us — selling dog bones over the World Wide Web, which was what we called the Interwebs back then, as was the style of the day. Good. Times.
Music was pretty great, too. Kurt Cobain singlehandedly killed the wicked witches of hair metal dead by crossing the streams of the Beatles and Black Sabbath and overnight grunge became a flannel-clad way of life. Axl Rose was out, Daniel Johnston was in. Suddenly the Lollapalooza Nation was ascendent and everything was called alt-something except the right. (This was before the re-brand, when Nazis were still called Nazis) Every scraggly-haired fraggle-rock weirdo in a thrift store sweater got a major label contract: Mudhoney, Teenage Fan Club, Helmet, The Meat Puppets, The Vaselines, Dinosaur Jr., even the frickin’ Melvins. Public Enemy brang the noise and the Beastie Boys passed the mic. My Bloody Valentine made The Greatest Album Ever Made and then went dark for the rest of the decade but never stopped ringing in everyone’s ears.
Pavement recorded slanted enchantments in the Stockton garage of a drunk hippie. Guided By Voices built drunken lo-fi masterpieces in the basements of the Midwest. The Pixies tromped le monde, The Breeders were the bong in this reggae song, REM lost their religion, and Sonic Youth were stylish elders from Planet Noise teaching skate punks how to Philip K. Dick and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Great new songs were being played on commercial radio for the first time in anyone’s memory. Why, even “The Sweater Song” could be a hit in this brave new radio world. U2 was still relevant. Courtney Love was still a hot mess. The Red Hot Chili Peppers took the sweatsocks off their junk and made their one good album. Johnny Cash started making great albums again with Rick Rubin. And everyone loved Stereolab. All of us.
And then Fred Durst and 9/11 ruined everything.
None of this is news to Mt. Vengeance. Back then, the three dads in Mt. Vengeance were still lads in short pants cranking out some of most righteous ripped-knee’d peddle-hopping indie-rawk the City of Brotherly Love has ever known. Rich Fravel was singer/guitarist/songwriter in Latimer, Brian Campbell was bassist for Electric Love Muffin and Nicky Santore was tub-thumper for Valsalva. At the Khyber — which, you probably don’t even know, was the CBGBs of Philly in the 90s, aka a toilet with a great beer selection — they were royalty. Fast forward 20-plus years, past wives, kids, real estate licenses, and they still have the will and the wherewithal to rawk. Righteously so. The shorthand review of this their self-titled debut EP is: everything you ever needed to know about the 90s but were too not-born-yet to ask. The long answer is everything you just read. — JONATHAN VALANIA