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The decomposition of '70s rock and metal - 91%

joncheetham88, February 6th, 2010

This album basically took the rocking influence of Black Flag, killed it and brought it back to life as a shambling zombie of doom draped in the dark cape of Black Sabbath. True to the simple concept behind their debut, they do this in patient easy to follow steps. Each track slows more and more towards a slow as hell finish. The bass slowly rises to the same level as the guitar in importance. Scott Reagers sounds more and more mental. David Chandler's guitar tone seems progressively more like a huge yawning mouth ready to swallow you.

The title track represents a song like, say, 'My War' by Black Flag shortly after death, about recognizable but the punky fire has been replaced by the deathly glaze of doom. The riffs are a subterranean mumble, the drums a rattling gallop, and as the corpse of '70s hard rock and punk begins to kick up a bit of a whiff we go to 'White Magic/ Black Magic', where what would resurrect as the proud visage of stoner doom found its wah-pedaled and smoky grooves coming together for the first of many times.

Reaching the ghastly centrepiece, the carcass has risen from the cold steel table where the organs of rock were being lifted stinking into a cold white light, and has begun to wander around looking peckish. 'Zombie Hunger', yeah. Scott Reagers makes his strongest bid to outstrip Wino as my favourite Vitus vocalist here, and I often feel he might be. Drunkenly and disjointedly bawling "I'm a zombie! I inside have died...into the grave!' he represents everything that is great about this album - intoxicated, unhinged, swaying dangerously forth with the classic driving riff of the song. It's less like a riff than a repeated throb of guitar feedback supported by Armando Acosta's ambling drum patterns, and at this point what used to be rock music has become something new and ancient-sounding.

With a precedent set for slower pacing, 'The Psychopath' and 'Buried at Sea' (excepting the vehement explosion in the middle of the latter) get even more incremental in their speed. These tracks represents the body I have post-mortemed reaching its final stage of decomposition, where the corporeal elements of rock and metal have been so altered and degraded as to become something new and mighty, inching onwards with the calm uncomplicated menace associated with the genre Sabbath had created and Vitus helped mould, and mouldy this is.

This is an album that got a lot done, with a seemingly modest amount of ambition. It's hard to decide whether it's even original at all, but what makes it so goddamn important is the fact that it defines itself. It seems to present the crystallization process that had occurred, with fast and rocking guitar music being hypnotically distilled into the elegant purity of possibly my favourite four letter word, DOOM.