When last we left our heroes in Pitchshifter, they had evolved from Godflesh monsters into something else….a drum ‘n bass metalectronica beast destined for great things. So of course they signed with a major. Because that’s what you do, right?
Geffen put out 1998’s www.pitchshifter.com and it was as much a departure from Infotainment? as that album was from Desensitized. The growl was gone as vocalist J.S. Clayden sang everything in a British sneer that was unmistakable and irreplaceable. “Civilised” started with a plucked stand up bass and degenerated into an aural attack accented by Clayden’s cries of “I Don’t Understand!”. “W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G.” and “Please Sir” are instant ‘shifter classics combining electronics with spunk rock at a break neck speed. And then there’s “Genius”. Sweet “Genius”. This song is the epitome of Pitchshifter: wailing guitars, a driving bass line, and a build up that will blow you away. “With me/It’s a religion/50, 000 strong!” The album also featured the debut of guitarist Jim Davies who would go on to play with The Prodigy.
in 2000, they moved to MCA and released Deviant. Produced by Dave Jerden (Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction) and featuring studio drumming from Helmet’s John Stainer, Deviant continued the direction set forth by www.pitchshifter.com but cut back on the electronics some. Closer “P.S.I.cological” is an instrumental creature that pulsates and explodes into a glorious sonic fury while opener “Condescension” is a straight up rollicking, dance-along, headbanging Pitchshifter banger. And some guy named Jello Biafra guests on “As Seen On TV”.
Their last studio release, (And my favorite after Desensitized) PSI, was released through Sanctuary in 2002. The electronics were present from the get-go on opener “Stop Talking (So Loud)” with its quiet/loud, stop/start passages complete with crushing riffs. There are so many good songs to talk about here. The crunching guitars on “Shutdown”, the anthemic “Down” and “Eight Days”, J.S. Clayden’s amazing vocal delivery in “My Kind” which combines elements of jungle in a metal setting…like I said, there’s a lot here. The ultimate closer for Pitchshifter has to be “Shen-An-Doah” though. It just owns through and through. Starting with a token Mark Clayden bass line that builds and builds to a sweeping chorus with killer riffs courtesy of Davies. Oh, but there’s more! Secret track “Trancer” delivers the final killing blow with an electronic masterpiece that will drill into your head and stay there until you die. Riffs? Yep! Signature ‘shifter guitar and bass lines? Yep and yep! Electronics? Um, I already said “electronic masterpiece”. And if Clayden’s declaration of “When I Take Control/You Won’t Take Your Soul” (The only lyrics in this one) doesn’t convince you that Pitchshifter rules all, then I don’t know what will.
They disbanded shortly after PSI but returned quietly in 2006 by releasing the None For All And All For One EP as well as playing some shows here and there. There have been some side-projects (This Is Menace, The Blueprint) as well but those stories are for another day. There’s also been the promise of a new album but if that never materializes, I’m happy with the legacy they’ve left behind.