A History Of Nomadic Behavior

Written by: RUB on 11/03/2021 10:02:45

I’ll be completely honest: my knowledge about this New Orleans, LA four-piece is strictly limited to a few songs. Although I have caught their blend of sludge and doom metal live a couple of times, which has left me with some very fond memories, Eyehategod on record is another story, so I thought it would be best with a small disclaimer before diving headfirst into reviewing heir sixth full-length album: “A History of Nomadic Behavior”. My knowledge about the band’s previous catalog is based purely on the sizeable biography that accompanied my promotional copy as well as the homework I did by visiting those releases briefly. Nevertheless, I wanted to take the challenge with this, their first record in seven years given the band’s legacy, so grab your brew and weed of choice, and let’s see what these southerners have been cooking up for us.

Opening track “Built Beneath the Lies” starts in Eyehategod’s usual style: the guitar is screeching and aggressive, yet it is easy to hear that the slower and doomier parts are never that far away. And just shy of the half-minute mark, the pace is slowed down significantly, only to be built back up yet again slowly, groovily and dirtily — just like those previous records taught me. The second track “Outer Banks” has quickly become one of my favourites on the album. Although it clocks in just 2½ minutes, it packs everything I admire about this band: sludgy, doomy parts heavy enough to break any neck, but also an absurd shift in temp when the upbeat, pogo-like two-beat rhythm kicks in and cements the track as a sure shot highlight. With such a barrage of aggression, I can only imagine what it will do to the moshpits at future gigs; it’s simple and effective without much grandeur, but a genre like this shouldn’t be about grandeur anyway. The same goes for the third song “Fake What’s Yours”, in which you practically feel the dirt and mud of the band’s native region, sounding like it has been mixed in somehow as a vital part of the production. The song drags along and then drags along some more, but it never feels tedious or unnecessary — it is all part of the story any seasoned listener of Eyehategod knows very well.

After the dust from the first three tracks has settled, the listener should thus be feeling the atmosphere alright. And there is no doubt that Eyehategod truly manages to create an atmosphere that reeks of thick smoke, drugs and alcohol, which also used to be a central element of the band until lead singer Mike Williams suffered a liver failure that eventually led to him giving up at least the drugs, just as Jimmy Bower, the original guitarist, also quit his opiates. But seemingly, it has not had any noticeable effect on the group’s sound, which remains as gritty and dirty as ever.

With “Three Black Eyes” we are given another chaotic and disjointed piece of southern sludge. The melody is strange and packs plenty of disjointed rhythms, as well as weird shifts in tempo. For this track in particular, the chaotic and messy nature of Eyehategod’s writing process definitely works to its advantage. The same cannot be said about “Current Situation” though. It is messy, very messy — and not in a good way. It behaves like a noisy intermezzo without any real purpose to it apart from maybe adding a breather in the live environment. The actual musical parts of the song are fine, but they just get blurred out with all the moaning, pointless jamming. The same can be said about the final track “Every Thing, Every Day”, which is a bizarre way to end an album, and not necessarily in a positive way. Again, it has some pretty sick elements tugged in between all the bizarre noises, but it is simply blurred out. With these two latter tracks, I sort of get the feeling of filler, because why not end the album on an absolute high note instead? I was left with the feeling of “Really? Was that it?”. It is quite the opposite compared to the way the album opened.

Luckily, those two hiccups (and to some degree “Smoker’s Piece”) are generally speaking the only less impactful tracks on the album. In other highlights such as “High Risk Trigger” and “Anemic Robotic”, any fan of the genre should feel right at home, although the first half of the album is, in my book, significantly better than the second half, but each to their own. Where I really feel the sound of Eyehategod, however, is when, after a lengthier build-up, the sludgy madness and climax arrives in an explosion of dirt, mud and grit, and this is exactly what happens in the tracks I have just highlighted.

Initially, I had a hard time getting into “A History of Nomadic Behavior”, but to be completely honest, I am glad I kept on spinning it over and over again. After touring for three years, living in various vans, tour buses and hotel rooms, the way they describe the process of writing the album is as a “disjointed assembly”, so my overall feeling with the album is very similar to that of the band. The sound on the album is chaotic, but apart from those few rather forgettable and messy tracks, the entire record feels feels like a nice blend of sludgy doomy-ness mixed with gravel and chaos — and truth be told, it sounds like the band had a lot of fun recording it. And when you can do just that as a collective unit after six albums and 33 years of existence — not to mention as a band with a druggy, alcohol-fueled reputation — and still come out on top, it tells you everything you need to know about this album and the band in general. It might not be their best, but it’s without a doubt worthy of checking out.

Download: The Outer Banks, High Risk Trigger;,Built Beneath the Lies, Fake What’s Yours, Three Black Eyes, Anemic Robotic
For the fans of: Acid Bath, Church of Misery, Crowbar, Down, Meth Drinker, Weedeater
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.03.2021
Century Media Records

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