One would expect that the addition of traditional ska heroes like ex-Skinnerbox guitarist Dave Hahn and former Skatalites trumpet player Nathan Breedlove would have a tempering effect on the evil, Satanic ska stew that is Mephiskapheles, but that just ain’t the case. Okay, songs like “Devil’s Due” and “Tallahassee Tango” are a little more subdued, while Hahn’s instrumental, “Alfredo Lopez,” is a smooth, Western-flavored ska-jazz tune, and “Wash Me,” while still dark, is extremely mellow and low key. Overall, though, comparing past work to this record is like comparing being hit by a freight train to a being run over by a subway — both are still gonna do you some serious damage. What this almost entirely new Meph line-up does bring to the table is a more polished and melodic sound, but the band is still as heavy as ever, mixing third wave beats and horns with metallic power chords. It’s a pretty unique formula, and at times, it can seem an incongruous one, but when hooky songs like “El Dorado” get your feet moving, you tend to forget about any imbalance. In most places, the band makes the juxtaposition a strength rather than a weakness — check out “Swampskin,” which features dissonant metallic guitar against a gorgeous, jazzy sax solo, for example. “King Tit” sounds like a ska version of a Danny Elfman score for a Tim Burton flick, while “Cheap Thrill” is a full on thrash tune lamenting the clean-up of Times Square, and “Sonic Demonic” is hilarious sacrilege. When all is said and done, Might-ay White-ay is more of the “Satanic ska for the whole family” that you’ve come to know and love, and more evil than that poseur, Marilyn Manson, could ever hope to be.
Koch International, 2 Tri-Harbor Court, Port Washington, NY 11050; http://www.kochentertainment.com