Monday, September 19, 2005

Eyehategod : In the Name of Suffering
Alright, the Melvins seem to be getting their due for seeding the current crop of sludge-metal bands, but there's another, a beast that's been lurking deep in the American South. Actually, and this is timely for no good reason, Louisiana. Whatever good times Bush used to partake in there, they probably weren't soundtracked by Eyehategod. It's the bleak, harrowing sounds of Corrupted and Khanate that trace a direct lineage to this here album. Eyehategod may still rule to this very minute, but they've never cooked up as vile a "fuck you" to our lord and saviour since.
Feedback. This is the key to the Eyehategod experience. Later on they reigned it in and even crafted droning soundscapes from it, but here it seems to just bleed everywhere, shrapnel bursting from sheer, forceful anguish. You might recognize it popping up in those early Black Dice 7"s, but here it fits perfectly with this Southern tarpit sludge. This is the sound of poverty, nihilism and substance abuse. It's that same pattern as Hip-Hop, the first album is just plain the most hungry. While Michael Williams' lyrics have not yet reached the Burroughsian heights of, say, Dopesick, they still reside in the same brilliantly tortured place. Reading the lyrics sheet is pretty much a separate pleasure from the music itself, as Williams' recorded vitriol is nearly indecipherable, and no song titles appear with the lyrics. Combined with his disturbing collage work, the packaging is nearly half the fun. Just a sample:
self abuse loves company
nobody talks to the drug prowling wolf
looks real sick in the sun
wind runs plays rains
time blows through windows

hold me down
slavery is god and time is a weight
i watched you suffer
and you showed me the same

On Take as Needed for Pain he layed out the manifesto:
nine steps for terrorism
1. absorb conradiction
2.soak up distraction
3.kill your boss filthy of mind
5.reinstate illogical conversation
6.embrace negativism
7.baptise by addiction
8.preach vice
9.steal for worthlessness

The agenda is set with the first song, "depress," followed by EHG's heaviest riff (and greatest song title, and they had some great ones) "man is too ignorant to exist." "pigs" goes into a slow boil before erupting halfway through the song, while "godsong" features the vocal contributions of one Charles Manson. The faster parts of these songs have the punk rock fury of a stoned Black Flag, something that wasn't there on later albums, evolving into amphetamine driven southern rock. The cover's picture of some decrepit, moss-covered house is like a spook house take on a Jandek cover, speaking to a similar form of isolation and depression. While metal's getting a lot of attention these days, especially the progariffic wankery of Mastadon and the overblown chugalug of High on Fire(Surrounded by Thieves was awesome, who knew Steve Albini and Joe Preston wouldn't make them better), Eyehategod are the real deal. If you're at all into the blackened landscapes that Corrupted and Khanate summon, or if you just wanna hear one of the deadliest fucking albums ever, this is essential.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

listening pile:
hototogisu - ghosts from the sun
wolf eyes - deranged
godflesh - streetcleaner
the mv & ee medicine show - the suncatcher blossoms a nova and is so grateful it is no longer willing to dark the sun
avarus - ruskea timantti
excepter - throne
dreamed yellow swans
pelt - untitled
eyehategod - take as needed for pain
kemialliset ystavat - lumottu karkkipurkki (vapaa systeemi)
blood stereo - the trunk is flexed
jack rose - kensington blues
napalm death - scum
royal trux - twin infinitives

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mouthus : Slow Globes : Troubleman Unlimited
Listen, I'm not going to tell you that I hate retro music. Traditional song forms still carry quite a bit of weight and it's always possible to fashion something personal and expressive from the vast smorgasbord of styles now available to us, but the more bands like Mouthus I discover, the less patience I have for it. See, you could point out various precedents for this duo's stoned noise-fog in the history of recorded music, and they would be some obscure ones in Mouthus' case, but really they're just echoes, dislocated fragments. This is what David Keenan would call "form-destroying": music that not only rejects traditional song forms, but handily makes the case that they're no longer necessary.
Mouthus use their skill at disorienting to entrance. The drumming and guitar playing hint at free jazz, and yet they loop in repeated patterns, drifting in a haze of moaned vocals and effects-pedal gauze. If you found any joy in Lynch's Elephant Man, a steam-obscured period piece from a time that never really existed, there will be something here for you. For me, it's like the sounds I've been waiting to hear are finally being created. With the intense feedback squall of Loam almost completely gone, Mouthus have revealed the pulsating organic beast at the core of what they do, while still creating a remarkably dense haze for only two people. The last track on side A even contains some majestic psych-rock guitar action, until the wheels fall off and the whole thing descends into a disjointed nightmare of steam blasts and moans. By the end of side B, you might think you'd stumbled into an Avarus jam, but Mouthus never let loose with that kind of abandon. Everything is tightly reigned in, each song is its own idea, and hypnosis is maintained with the simplest of means. These guys do this so well, so consistently, it's clear they've found some twisted form of zen transcendance amidst the darkness and fog. Which means there might be hope for me. Right?