Review Summary: R.Eye.P.
Bands really ought to start weighing the pros and cons of releasing a pair of genre definers early on in their career. Middle age is tough at the best of times without having to compete against a prodigious legacy. Quit wholesale, or at least hold something back in the vaults for the pot-belly years. Misfits were on to something with Static Age
This is the sort of legacy Eyehategod are knocking up against following the bloody-knuckle 1-2 of Take As Needed for Pain
. If the sounds of the latter are any indication, they ought to be credited with a third miracle in that vocalist Mike IX Williams was not found dead in a gas station bathroom before the record had a finished master. So there the band were, all still breathing, however ragged, with a document of nihilistic self-abuse and a lot to live up to. Acid Bath were on to something. Good looking out, Audie Pitre.
Things got predictable from there. The classics are clear testimonials that guitarists Brian Patton and Jimmy Bower knew their way around a de-tuned, nimbly oafish battering, and qualified diminishing-returns follow ups Confederacy of Ruined Lives
and the self-titled (post-14 year recording hiatus) are testimonials that once you learn to riff proficiently at half-time in C, you can keep doing a pretty respectable imitation without ruffling feathers, even if you’ve already pissed out much of your proverbial vinegar. Original skin-batterer Joey LaCaze died somewhere in there, and Aaron Hill took up the vacated stool and didn’t miss a beat. (Ain’t too difficult at a cool 70 bpm, but credit where it’s due).
Enter A History of Nomadic Behavior
. Nothing’s changed. Exit A History of Nomadic Behavior
This album will likely amaze no one, and upset even fewer. Which might not be the ideal benchmark for a band that’s throttled quite a bit of mileage from adjectives like “disturbed, disgusting, depraved.” If you’ve been along for the ride this far, here’s a couple tracks for the perennial set-list and a comfortable reminder that it’s been a couple months since you last listened to Mike shredding his lungs raw through “Anxiety Hangover” during the Dopesick
years. Of course, that sort of voice isn’t sustainable on the wrong side of a couple decades of the hardest living, and sure enough, it’s a fraction of the raw howling viscera that used to tear through the serrated riffs. After several health scares over the last few years, it’s gratifying enough to hear that voice barking out a new run of gutter slogans at all. Still, it’s tough to imagine a scenario where a new Eyehategod project recaptures that same ferocity that made those classic records what they were.
Coupled with Brian Patton out of the picture for the first time since joining after debut In the Name of Suffering
(and some of the bite from the riffs leaving with him), A History of Nomadic Behavior
is an echo of the best work the New Orleans crew has dredged up. But all echoes hold a piece of their original, and there’s still enough here to warrant a quick check-in for old time’s sake, sparse as the selection may be. “Current Situation” and lead single “High Risk Trigger” dose the record with a little extra potency at its midpoint, the latter via a couple pummeling riffs with just a bit more character than the homogeneity they’re prone to falling into around the rest of the tracklist, while the former’s mid-song noise break puts back some of the sanded-down grit.
But if another decade rolls around to see these not-quite-reformed misanthropes still living on their evidently healthy allotment of borrowed time and preparing another album cycle, A History of Nomadic Behavior
isn’t going to be the record anyone reaches for to remember why Eyehategod is still a band worth remembering.