Fourteen years. Fourteen long and lonely years we’ve all gone without an album’s worth of new material from New Orleans’ kings of sludgy misery, Eyehategod. How did we survive it? Surely there were the hundreds of bands influenced by Eyehategod’s riffs and booze-soaked audio carnage that tried to keep us warm on those cold nights. But they were just keeping the bed occupied while the lights were still off, all of us pretending that we could somehow fill the void. Great bands are like great lovers. When they up and leave us for no good reason it leaves a cavernous fjord that we think time is slowly filling in, only to find out that time is usually asleep at the wheel. But Eyehategod is back and all is right in the world again.
When a relationship of any kind breaks down you can never, ever go back to the way it was. You have to start fresh because the alternative is staleness. The same goes for bands and Eyehategod get that. Their new, self-titled album is unmistakably an Eyehategod record. No one will confuse it for anything else. Mike IX Williams’ vocals are as scathing as ever. Jimmy Bower and Mike Patton lay down the Blues and Black Sabbath inspired riffs like no one else in the business and the rhythm section of bassist, Gary Mader and drummer, Joey LaCaze (his final recordings before his untimely passing) are a low end machine of brutal proportions. Yet, despite leaning on what they’ve done best since their debut album over twenty years ago, Eyehategod have emerged from their slumber with an invigorating album. There’s a young man’s hop to their step as this band is game for showing the pretenders how it’s done, NOLA style.
Eyehategod’s sound has always been built upon the premise that a wall of riffs and feedback combined with a punk rock aesthetic, and saturated with the swampy confines of New Orleans itself is always the answer to the question, no matter what the question was. They’ve upped the ante though with this record, taking their sound to new venomous levels of auditory debauchery. The riff machine goes from ‘stun’ to ‘kill’ on tracks like “Trying To Crack The Hard Dollar” and “Parish Motel Sickness”. You could argue that no other guitar duo in metal history bend notes to their will the way Bower and Patton do and that’s wholly evident on this record. Time has not dulled their sensibility in writing riffs that are simply soul-grabbing and absolutely stunning in their execution. It’s like a twin gut-punch from atop the highest roller coaster as you are cresting the ridge. You know you’ll enjoy it at the bottom of the hill but good luck on the way down.
This band is also still one of the heaviest bands in the world. Tracks like “The Age of Bootcamp” are oppressive in their heaviness. This entire album at times feels like being engulfed by a wet blanket on a 90-degree day. Run as you might, you won’t be able to escape the monolithic stream of transmitted sludge oozing ever closer, engulfing everything in its path, the world itself swallowed whole one feedback doused note at a time. To say that this album is a triumphant return, or ‘the album we’ve all been waiting for’ are elephantine understatements. This album holds its own against some of the best of their canon and that alone makes it one of the best metal albums you’ll hear this year. At their peak Eyehategod were peerless. Fourteen years later, they still are.
Eyehategod hits the streets on May 27 via Housecore Records. In the meantime you can check out the track “Robitussin and Rejection” over at the Eyehategod Bandcamp page and “Agitation! Propaganda!” here.