Discovering a band only to find out they have since split is an all too familiar routine in the digital age. That gutting realisation that you’ll never hear new material or see them live leaves a sense of unfulfilled finality that puts a downer on the ‘new favourite band’ experience. None more so than when I was introduced to Admiral Angry. A friend with impeccable music taste excitedly told me he had found a band he knew I would love, describing them as “like sludge, only nastier – like fucking ultra sludge”. By the end of the first song, I was hooked by the raw unbridled energy and claustrophobic vibes – an unadulterated assault on the senses. Being given a snippet of information on the band’s backstory only added to the intrigue.
Searching the internet for more information draws a bit of a blank, minus a few interviews and reviews, but the band’s name often crops up on Facebook groups and forums when people are asking for recommendations for new music. Luckily for me, it was easy to track down Brandon Gillichbauer, Admiral Angry’s bassist, through his other group Black Wall Sheep. I’m grateful to Brandon for his insights, especially as it was all over ten years ago now.
The ‘Admiral’ himself was guitarist Daniel Krauss, who tragically died aged only 22 of Cystic Fibrosis. As Brandon explains, “Daniel was definitely the mastermind behind Admiral Angry. I would say he wrote about 99% of the music, while the rest of us provided input to tweak it to its final product.” Daniel also created the art for the band’s debut full-length Buster; an aggressive, pain-ridden fuck you to the world – featuring cover art completely at odds with the music itself, with its soft, psychedelic pastel tones and the silhouette of a rabbit in the centre. “The artwork – created by Daniel – was definitely intentional. Growing up listening to metal, you find that a lot of album artwork can blend together and start to look very similar. Even when bands do something ‘different,’ it seems that within a year, four more bands will put out something with the same artist that looks almost identical. We wanted something that would stand out; something that if you picked it up and brought it home would give you no idea what you were getting yourself into”.
One of the most striking things about Buster – and its most endearing quality that to this day still shines through – is that it feels 100% believable. It’s not being heavy for the sake of being heavy, rather it puts you into a slightly unnerving state that means you can’t help but buy into it. The ‘ultra-low, ultra-slow’ elements are perfectly backed up by singer Chris Linblad’s pure exasperated shrieks, adding to the raw emotion in an endearingly organic fashion. It’s surprising to find out from Brandon that the vocals were the most criticised part of the album. “After the album was put out by Shelsmusic it seemed to be received mostly positively, with the vocals being what was criticised the most. I think the thing I hear most is, ‘The music is so heavy but the vocals don’t fit. It’s like you want just someone to come in with a brutal low scream. That would be brutal.’ But I don’t agree, we really wanted to convey pain, desperation, and hopelessness, and I think Lindblad pulled that off with his style more so than a guttural growl or scream.”
It’s a cruel twist of fate that the ferociousness and pain that Daniel was such a big part in portraying through the band’s work stemmed from a cruel disease that limited the band’s ability to reach a wider audience, at least in terms of playing live. “Due to Daniel’s condition, touring was never a viable option. I don’t recall ever playing out of state, which made seeing Admiral this gem that a lot of people look back on as a missed opportunity; if you wanted to see us live, you had to come to us.”
If Buster hinted at the band’s beginnings in grindcore and death metal with song titles such as ‘Sex With A Stranger’, ‘Bug Vomit’ and ‘Kill Yourself’ all with equally desolate lyrics, then its follow-up and final Admiral album, A Fire To Burn Down The World, was a different beast altogether. As the band said in the press release, “This is not Buster pt. 2, nor is it ten songs sloppily put together to be forgotten. It’s a mammoth of an album. One 30-minute long song, meant to punish you for all the bad things you’ve done in your bedroom. A Fire… is not meant for everyone, but is being released for the one person that had the determination to set this world ablaze before he left it.” As a parting shot to the world, the single track melds all that was great about Buster in a more concise package.
It would be easy to look at Admiral Angry as a band that was never allowed to fulfil its potential, but that would be wrong as they left behind a considerable body of work, crafted in such a short space of time but that most bands would be happy to have achieved over a long career. Or as Daniel himself once said, “We’ve never stopped and we never will. Sound lives forever. We hope our music is most unpleasant”.
Admiral Angry was:
Chris Linblad – Vocals
Daniel Krauss – Guitars
Mark Richards – Guitars
Brandon Gillichbauer – Bass
Chris Stites – Drums
This piece was originally featured in our third issue.
Words: David Brand