without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
There was some controversy in the mid-90's when Kyle Thomas and his brother Kevin appeared with this band in early 1996. After all, many, including myself, were hoping and expecting another Exhorder release seeing his name attached to this album but this was not to be. The stylistic direction here is one that seems almost a polar opposite to his early days with Exhorder, moving a direction not too dissimiliar from Down's debut and Corrosion of Conformity's "Wiseblood." At the exact same time, I couldn't actually dislike this album at all and found myself enjoying just about everything I heard.
To finalize any doubts, this is not Exhorder nor is a band that attempts to be. Therefore, any comparisons between this band and that one are completely inaccurate. However, this band is quite comparable to Down, as both are from Louisiana, and both have frontmen who were once members of groove/thrash bands that then moved in an entirely new direction. The flavor here is definitely that of sludge/doom, with some fancy blues influence and Southern tinge, as I mentioned before both "NOLA" and "Wiseblood" are easily comparable to this. The genre is basically your straight-forward sludge/doom that makes as much use of the Southern influence as it does its ode to Black Sabbath, with a pretty sizable chunk of stoner metal aspirations.
The songs are much like the ones on "NOLA" in that they get into a fairly nice chunky groove and at times sound alike. Naturally there are some stand-outs here, namely "Through My Days Into My Nights" that comes roaring with a slow, churning sludge riff and Thomas' clean vocals, that transitions into some screams before the solo. "Second Guesser" is an interesting track in that brings forth sludge's sizable hardcore influences while "Whole" seems like this album's "Jail," a spacey atmospheric jam with background vocals that is an obvious ode to Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan." "Feel You Burn" and "Black With Sin" are a break away from the pure sludgey groove of this album for more stoner territories not unlike Kyuss, except with Kyle Thomas on vocals. This works exceptionally well, essentially being more focused stoner metal tracks than either Down or C.O.C. did on their respective albums from this same era. The remaining songs are basically pure sludge/doom, with "Those Days" and "Running With Sodden Legs" being the strongest, while "Till My Soil" is also of note as it contains a riff very similiar to the one heard off Down's "There's Something on My Side" off their second album.
This is a very solid album, definitely one that I can see fans of other Southern sludge/doom bands such as Down and C.O.C. getting into since its not far removed from what either of those bands sound like. I would caution Exhorder fans expecting to hear a thrash record, as this is nothing of the sort and is actually closer to what Thomas did on Alabama Thunderpussy's "Open Fire" than anything else. He works in this genre exceptionally well, more so than I originally gave him credit for before hearing this album. This is a pretty rare find these days as the original went out of print some time ago, but there is a 2007 re-release with demo and bonus tracks. I'd opt for the re-release anyway, as this means more music for your money.
Many a fan of Exhorder bought this, hoping it would be a surrogate third album of the Deep South thrashers. Anyone expecting an extreme thrash–fest from this album will be highly disappointed. While Floodgate features a former member of Exhorder, none of the old sound has been retained at all.
Y'see, 'Penalty' is sludgy Doom–laden swamp rock, more akin to the likes of Trouble and Monster Magnet than Dark Angel and Pantera. This is an album of huge rock slab guitar riffs and a rhythm section dragged out of the slimy 'gator infested swamps of the Bayou. There is nothing fancy here, just four guys churning out the music they love, without pretension.
Kyle Thomas was the acidic mouthpiece of Exhorder in his thrash incarnation. With Floodgate, he proves highly versatile, and surprisingly comes out with a rough edged blues–y voice, reminiscent of a number of singers from different bands, one moment Trouble, the next Masters of Reality, and the odd touch of Ozzy. Thomas shows an excellent ear for vocal melody, and backing vocal harmonies slide in and out of many of the songs. The Exhorder roar comes out on occasion, to add effect or emphasise a point.
"Whole" is like a soundtrack for that moment of semi–consciousness between waking and sleeping, like Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan". "Second Guesser" jolts you out of that reverie, with an almost Hardcore shout–along feel, like a Corrosion Of Conformity or Crowbar track.
Fans of supergroup Down will love this album. Strangely enough, it was released about the same time as 'Nola', and was also recorded in New Orleans. It is basic, no nonsense Stoner Rock, minus the stoned part and stripped back to the bare bones. You don't even need to get out of it to get into this.