By: Eric Greenwood
Taking its name from rap mogul Marion Suge Knight as a tongue in cheek gesture, this South Carolina trio has made a name for itself with a completely spastic and over the top brand of hardcore punk. When you see these guys live, the focus is on drummer Andrew Wallace because of his unpredictably frantic and showy drumming style, and, perhaps, because he shrieks violently while playing the drums. Marion indulges a few of the typical hardcore cliches, adding its penchant for reckless pandemonium to the mix, and in doing so creates such a furious rumbling that you can't help but want to tear shit up. Songwriting awards will not be distributed to these guys, but, I dare say, that's not what they're after, anyway.
The band's debut is true to the modern hardcore sound established in the early 1990's by the likes of Born Against and Heroin – and even Antioch Arrow to an extent. The guitars are rushed and abrasive, almost unintelligible in their frenetic attack. The bass serves as a semi-melodic foil to the crash and burn of the guitars and drums. The dynamic operates under the general umbrella of quiet parts versus loud parts, but Marion's knee-jerk style is hard to pin down. All of the instruments are pounding so hard that it's difficult to tell sometimes who's holding down the structure of the song. Wallace's shriek is kind of buried in the mix, but, occasionally, through shear maniacal strength, he manages to overpower the cacophony.
"Saturday Night's Alright" stands out as an example of how raucous Marion can be. Double-tracked screaming adds an eerie effect to Wallace's vocal assault. The lyrics are absolutely inscrutable, as is the case on most hardcore releases, but even with a lyric sheet I find myself scratching my head more often than not when trying to make it all out. Marion mines the politics of personal demons lyrically, which suits the desperation inherent to the delivery. On "This Is All Makeshift" Marion truly lives up to the fury it promises in every song. The drumming mixes bracing hardcore beats with complex histrionics, as the song builds to a jarring and disharmonic climax.
"Favorite Patient" explores weird musical tangents, ranging from noisy rock to acrobatic rhythmic shifts. The choral vocal effect works well again here, making the trio sound like an army of angry punks. On the monstrous closer, "Guess I'm Gonna Show You", the band flirts with dirge-like metal before exploding into its familiar mass of discordant destruction. Marion would probably benefit from showing some restraint in the future because, at times, the blurry wall of noise seems indecipherable. All three players sound like they're trying to outdo one another, and that works when the point is to beat you over the head with rage, but as far as memorable music is concerned, it tends to pose a problem. Marion clearly has the harshness down pat; now it just needs to focus on the songs.