EYEHATEGOD - A HISTORY OF NOMADIC BEHAVIOR
HAVE SOME ASPRIN HANDY FOR THE FEEL BAD HIT OF THE SUMMER
These underground sludgecore grandees are one of the founders of the New Orleans scene with familial band ties with Crowbar, Pantera, Down, and Corrosion of Conformity. The history of Eyehategod is notorious. Strewn with self-destructiveness, chemical abuse and addiction, the band have lived the unglamorous, unvarnished nasty way in a music scene that has claimed no small number of lives. Back in 2016 after a stint in jail and deteriorating health, founder and vocalist, Mike Williams, underwent a life saving liver transplant. While he survived, former drummer Joey LaCaze died in 2013 and the band have been open about their dysfunctional substance misuse track record. A History of Nomadic Behavior presents like an autobiographical soundtrack of self-destructive descent, existence eked out in squalor, and eventual damaged survival.
Musically, this was never going to be about experimentation and EHG's sound is, for want of a better term, intact. Down-tuned, discordant riffs play feedback-immersed ugly, depressive metal and bastardised, stoned blues. Uniformly slow and rarely reaching mid-paced, the fuzzy chords are languidly jarring and judder and shunt in an anti-melodic crawl. The vocals, meanwhile, sound like a pre-vomit spasm with a snide, retching punk drawl. Williams has eschewed his indecipherable shrieks and dry-throat screams for a comparatively intelligible delivery. His words - which you can understand this time - are an embittered stream of consciousness cataloguing a pastiche of destitution, crime and chemical nihilism. At times it is mad misanthropic ranting with his sneering caterwaul jumping from one tortured analogy to another. "Chase away your pride!" wails Williams on Fake What's Yours on what is a disjointed scrapbook of unbridled self-loathing.
Built Beneath the Lies is the nearest EHG get to immediacy as bummed out lazy vibrato blues interlace with juddering slo-mo sludgecore. EHG are rougher, more chaotic and low-fi than the planetary heaviness of their compatriots Crowbar, but the bleak psychological outcome is similar. The Outer Banks is all pummelling, swampy sludge blues like a disturbing, spiteful comedown. The likes of the post-concussion symptom Anemic Robotic is blurry sludge played like the band should not be alive.
An ode to everything lurid, music this punishing wouldn't normally be ascribed to post-rehab recovery. Yet play it against the dingy mess of 1996's Dopesick, however, and it sounds polished in comparison. Whatever, steps might have been taken in the right direction over the years, this is not easy listening. EHG have not reached some point of positive, Easter redemption. The demons still feel not too far off with songs like High Risk Trigger and the ceaseless caustic rantings from the gutter. From a band who created sludgy blues played by ill men, this now sounds like men who are slightly less ill. This music is the antithesis of rock party. It is the dark, life-threatening manifestation of excess that holds up a broken mirror to addiction, filth and self-destruction; the grubby, unwashed comedown, an existential hangover that never quite abates.