Review Summary: A cult classic of extreme music that is actually cleverly expressed in more ways than one.
Acid Bath were as societal a band could be with killer John Wayne Gacy’s childishly creepy artwork slapped on the front, back, insert and disc of their debut. The band kept this killer painting trend by letting Jack Kevorkian’s ‘For He Is Raised’ take the cover of the next release, Paegan Terrorism Tactics. Despite this fascinating but often repellent trait, Acid Bath’s following extended far beyond the moat of alligator infested swamps surrounding their hometown in Louisiana.
When The Kite String Pops is the sound of a band that is chaotically but consciously firing in multiple directions, a band covering various styles and defying categorization. Ultimately, Acid Bath come across as a well accomplished band with their heads screwed on tight, if often engulfed in plumes of pot smoke. Let us remember though, that this was their debut – this wasn’t any slight experimentation four albums into their career so to speak, this was Acid Bath from the start; raw and unhomogenized. And with fourteen songs in nearly seventy minutes, they had a lot of it to offer.
So if Acid Bath’s music is so diverse, then what can they be described as; one word that is thrown around a lot is “sludge”. The screeching feedback, slower tempos and the big, deep guitar sound all adhere to this label but not the album entirely. There are quite generic punkish hardcore moments that will appeal to most and the blues and folk inspired acoustic tracks boasting melody that will appeal to more. But arguably, Kite String is dominated by the sort of crushingly heavy music that will simply pound everyone into cosmic dust. Even so, a lot of these can belong as segments to one song which is typical of their musical behaviour. Something common throughout the album is the strong and imaginative lyrical emphasis of death, drugs, murder, suicide etc. This may seem almost too fitting considering the band (or the album cover) but the lyrics are often heavily metaphorical and paint some pretty strange images in the mind. Even if one doesn’t understand the songs, they can’t criticize Acid Bath of being inane. Also tossed in is Dax Riggs’s many voices; from a delicate croon to a ghastly guttural growl is evidently not a problem for him.
Like mentioned before, Kite String has a lot to offer; the album opens with ‘The Blue’ – the liquid death feedback drenched intro soon gives way to an incredibly evil riff. From then on the song deviates from the same tempo by switching to fast and back to sluggish paces in a heartbeat. ‘Dr. Seuss Is Dead’ harnesses a menacingly slow doom vibe during the dragging verses but often breaks into high speed chugging passages accompanied by rampant double kick right up to the furious ending. On the contrary, track thirteen; ‘The Bones Of Baby Dolls’ is a fully acoustic track that keeps with the dark lyrical themes and creates a haunting atmosphere like no other song on the album. This is also evoked by Dax Riggs versatile voice, here his croon switches to a more powerful vocal altered by distortion halfway through – both fit the mood created perfectly.
Other interesting tracks include the short and punchy ‘Cheap Vodka’, the riff-tacular ‘Tranquilized’ and the death metal blast-rhythm turned groove metal style that is ‘Jezebel’. The fan favourite ‘Scream Of The Butterfly’ combines bluesy acoustic guitars with hard drumming and even throwing in double kick to the mix – you get the feeling that if other bands would attempt this it would be considered daring, but not here. Often enough, there is so much going on that you are almost desensitized to the wonderful quirks and may not even notice them until the next listen.
So, Kite String is a cult classic from the league of extreme music that is actually cleverly expressed in more ways than one. Newcomers to the band may find some of the music too intense but there is probably something on this album for (almost) everyone. Some days the album may not be easily digested all at once but those days will be few and far between if you’re part of this bands still loyal fan base. Get a taste!