A black and white profile picture on the Mud City Mangler’s Discogs page shows three black leather jacket-clad guys awkwardly standing around a train track in front of old brick buildings. From their youthful faces and the fact they’re a trio in the picture, it’s clear this is one of the earliest lineups in the Mangler’s 26-year history.
While there are plenty of photos of the band circulating on social media, there is not much background information online regarding the Pittsburgh punk n’ rollers’ long history outside of a short interview via YouTube.
Their obscurity is not surprising given their only LP release happened the year before 9/11 on an Australian label with a slew of single releases every couple of years afterward on various stateside small labels. But their follow-up LP, Give Me The Hammer has launched 20 years, and the 16 tracks show this band hasn’t let the years wither their loud and furious speed rock style.
Of the three guys in that old picture, two remain, and two new members have been added. The new lineup of Mud City Manglers is a group of lifers in the American underground metal and punk circuit who have served time with past projects in groups like Mythic, The Failures, Ticklepenny, and Behind Enemy Lines.
On their first LP, Heart Full of Hate, Mud City Manglers jammed econo as a trio. Their sound was primitive and raw compared to the explosive, bulldozing speed rock four-piece they upgraded to with their latest, Give Me The Hammer.
During the 20-year album gap, the band kept a relatively low profile, playing mostly around Pittsburgh with an occasional out of town show around the East Coast. One person who approves of the new lineup is Rob Nowak, drummer for Detroit rockers Against The Grain. Both bands have frequently shared the stage, and Nowak states his thoughts on one of his favorite Pittsburgh groups straightforwardly.
“Mud City Manglers are Pittsburgh’s dirtiest and purest speed rock band to date. Pure rock n’ roll fury with incredible talent and catchiness infused into tough as fuck Iron City rock n’ roll. Legends in their own right.”
Give Me The Hammer sounds like a 16 wheeler smashing into your body and dragging your carcass by the guts along for a hell ride. The new LP’s production is clear, and extra guitars bring a vicious edge. No revolutionary songwriting on this album; it’s purely about volume rather than leaving some phony message. Tracks like “Bring It Down” and “Better Off Dead” are standouts among the overall ferocity. “Hangover Hurricane,” “Cheater Bar,” and “One of These Days” are re-records from past split EPs that have more gut-punch effect than the original cuts. “One More Mile” sounds like a one-off from the Let Them Eat Pussy sessions with singer/guitarist Ted Tarka’s vocals nearly identical to Blain Cartwright’s. “Hammered” is the highlight, as the band rips into a high octane instrumental in the background of a radio disc jockey’s monologue on the importance of having a zero-tolerance policy for falsehoods.
For fans of Motorhead, Peter Pan Speedrock, Dead Boys, and New Bomb Turks. Give Me The Hammer by Mud City Manglers is out via Spaghetty Town Records.