Black Bolt and the Inhumans are an Anchorage-based band whose appeal is so specialized, their songs so impenetrable to most reasonable humans, that the fact that they even made a CD-R demonstrates such a wonton disregard for the realities of supply and demand that they bear recognition. Their band name, along with all of their lyrics, is a reference to obscure Marvel comic book characters. I’m just going to come right out and say it: Black Bolt and the Inhumans are nerdcore.
And not in any remotely stylish way, either— we’re talking hardcore, basement-dwelling, back-issue hording, Cheeto-munching comic book geekdom. This is music by nerds for nerds, and it makes no apologies. If you can’t keep up with the constant references to “The Ultimate Handbook to the Marvel Universe,” you better just get out of the way.
While most of the songs are content to simply celebrate Marvel Comics’ characters’ nobility or fighting abilities, in their more adventurous moments, the songwriting duo of Adrian Schnyder and MC Doug tie aspects of various superhero role-playing games into their non-comics interests, like their shared hatred of Emo. “I Exploit Weakness” is a fireball of righteous nerd-rage, a paradoxical call-out all Emo-kids in language only comprehensible to the hardest-core Gamers.
The musical backdrop sounds like a less complicated version of San Francisco’s Deerhoof, rhythms lurching and mutating constantly, guitar and drums working as one spastic unit. There are moments where the herky-jerky treble fests give way to a fittingly nerdy death-metal leaning, like on “MODOK Talk,” which features such memorable lines as “we have cloned your mightiest heroes/prepare for annihilation.”
Black Bolt and the Inhumans take the cliquiness of rock to its logical extreme, making music that will please only themselves and an extremely narrow subsection of the rest of the population. However, if you’re down with Karnack, you’ll probably be so into this nothing else will matter.