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Nothing defines the stoner doom sub-genre like fuzz. The sound of guitars pushing amps past their breaking point and, hopefully creating a beautiful grain of sound that, to the non-fan, sound like noise (literally) but to the stonercult follower brings about a great sense of joy and near sexual satisfaction. If played well, the fuzz and distortion can leave a fan of stoner doom laying in a pure state of nirvana. So, as you would imagine, when a band can provide that and still excel at bringing about great melodies and songwriting, spliced together with an appropriate atmosphere and mood, that band becomes the gods of the doom nation.
Weed Eater is one such band.
Hyperbole aside, this band is excellent at writing doom metal and even better at playing it. The execution here is excellent. The first three songs seamlessly flow into one another so well that one might not know that one has ended and the other began. They don't sound the same, per se, but they definitely capture you in the vibe of complete and utter sonic apocalypse. Followed by the acoustic number Alone which is one of the best songs on the album. Rare that a "soft" interlude continues to capture the heavy, crushing attitude of the surrounding stoner/doom rock by swamping it in badass mood and a raw, depressed sound. It's just as doomy as the heaviest electric tracks. Following this is the instrumental track $20 Peanut and it's the heaviest and the grooviest the album gets. Follow this by three more crushers (including a Skynyrd cover that is likely the worst track, but still not bad) and a bellowing piano closer and you get a very full and healthy Doom outing.
One band that Weed Eater almost always gets compared to is Bongzilla. This likely due to the combination of heavy fuzz and wild screaming vocals. They just have a similar sound and yes, if you like Bongzilla, you're bound to like Weed Eater. But they're their own band with a very distinctive sound. Their riffs are a bit slower and more opened up. The vocals work with the music almost as another instrument, whereas Bongzilla, like many sludge bands, have the vocals that seem separate from the music. As if to say "here's some music and a guy screaming, too".
In the end, if you think fuzz, feedback and distortion are the ways that God (or Satan) talk to mortals, please listen to this.
My home state of North Carolina is home to a number of diverse styles that have manifested themselves over the years. One that comes to mind are the country and bluegrass compositions of one and only Doc Watson. Another example, albeit a far less interesting one are the droves of indie rock groups that pop up out of Chapel Hill. Luckily, we also have a few names to claim to the immortal name of heavy metal. One of the more famous of these would be Corrosion of Conformity, whose primary body of work since 1991 has circled heavily around both Southern rock and Black Sabbath worship mixed in together as heard most clearly on the "Wiseblood" album.
From the Wilmington area was once a band called Buzzov-en, who for most intents and purposes was a band quite similiar to Eyehategod who roughly shared the same timelines. Yet that band would fold some time later, leaving its members to seek out new avenues for musical exploration. Dave "Dixie" Collins has since gone on to form Weedeater, whose third effort in "God Luck and Good Speed" helps define the band as one of the more important sludge metal bands still in tune with the style as the originators first put into action not quite two decades ago.
To describe the band's sound is basically to describe sludge metal in itself. We have an abundant amount of thick, chunky riffs that the style is well known that generally move at a snail's pace; albeit a monstrosity in its own right that devours everything in its path. Collins' vocals are much more harsh, and perhaps more decipherable than what was heard in his former band in Buzzov-en, which for me is a welcome contrast to the whiny-screams heard in that band's music.
There are some breaks from the slow moving heaviness. The instrumental "Alone" is a good example, which is performed by Mike Dean of C.O.C. fame. Given Weedeater's down home roots, the banjo inclusion does seem normal albeit a little unexpected given everything else here. "20$ Peanut" is fairly characteristic of the sludge genre, including plenty of noise and reminding me a little of the gimmicks Eyehategod would have employed in the "Take as Needed for Pain" or the "Confederacy of Ruined Lives" era. Still, the best moments on this album pay the closest attention to emulating the tried and true sludge metal genre. My personal favorites in this field include "Wizard Fight," "Dirt Merchant," and the title track. The unexpected Lynyrd Skynyrd cover of "Gimme Back My Bullets" is also up there, definitely a unique take on the song and beats the hell out of that shit-fest version that Kid Rock did a few years earlier.
As someone who is always interested in the doom and sludge metal genres, Weedeater is definitely a band I keep an interest in. This band's avenue of creativity with the genre seem to best mimic the original Louisiana and North Carolina variants as opposed to the more ambitious style that has arisen in the Mid-West and California over the last several years. I personally prefer this style, perhaps rooted within my own attachment to the region of the country where it was first spawned by merging the sounds of Black Flag, The Melvins and Black Sabbath. In any event, "God Luck and Good Speed" is an album for the sludge fans to keep their eyes peeled for, and I'm personally quite happy with what's being offered here as it establishes the band as a new contender in the world of tried and true sludge metal.
It should come as no surprise that a band out of North Carolina called Weedeater with a frontman that goes by the name of Dixie (who also happens to be a member of Bongzilla) on a label called Southern Lord dishes out a heaping helping of deep fried, brain fried, sleazy, whiskey drinkin’, stoner metal.
With God Luck and Good Speed, Weedeater’s gone green, recycling those tried and true Sabbath riffs. Dixie’s raspy vocals are akin to Brian Johnson of AC/DC or Jesse James Dupree of Jackyl, which fits in with the Joe Dirt vibe of the music.
If you’re looking for an epic tale of magic, dragons, and geezers with mystical beards then “Wizard Fight,” will be quite the let down, as the lyrics are, “Wizard Fight!” which is shouted in the first 3 seconds and then it’s all instrumental from there. Want to know more about the “$20 Peanut” and why it was so pricey? Well you’re shit out of luck because that’s an instrumental too. There’s also a silly little ‘cranky grandpappy banjo-pickin’ on the front porch’ tune called “Alone.”
God Luck and Good Speed is a gritty, drunk’n’stoned album, great for a night of shooting beer cans off of a tree stump, but there’s very little substance (other than substance abuse) to be uncovered after the cloud of gun and dope smoke clears.
*review originally posted at www.livingformetal.com
Sludge Metal as of 2007 finds itself in various extremities of heavy metal. From the Melvins school to the Mogwai influenced (Neurosis, Pelican, Isis, Cult of Luna, Callisto etc.,) ilk that's now evolved into its own style labeled "post-metal", to the more stoner/doom variety (as played by the likes of Electric Wizard and Bongzilla), getting southern fried on the way (by the likes of Eyehategod, Crowbar, Acid Bath, Down, Alabama Thunderpussy and COC) to have influenced bands in many other genres (Goatwhore, Soilent Green, Mastodon, Fudge Tunnel).
There's nothing in the world more effective than a power trio rocking their ass off. Well, this is a much heavier form of music but the idea remains the same. Weedeater tell us how classic sludge (or "weed metal" in their own terminology) is done to perfection as a power trio. Weedeater is no stranger to the scene. Dixie was in the band Buzzove*n that pioneered this style of music (also has a hand in Bongzilla) and also had some extremely violent live shows. Weedeater has now been around for over 10 years putting up equally brutal live shows and managing to release just two albums. I'd almost forgotten how good they were till very recently when I got to hear "...And Justice For All" again.
Southern Lord, with all the strange Black Metal they've been putting out in recent times have completely surprised me with the third Weedeater album.
Produced and Engineered by none other than Steve Albini (Neurosis, The Jesus Lizard, Mogwai, High On Fire etc.,) except the banjo and bass driven "Alone" that was done by Mike Dean (COC), Weedeater's aggression has finally been captured to full effect. "God Luck and Good Speed" is one of the grooviest, fuzziest, catchiest, heaviest, feedback-laden, bluesy, southern fried, down-tuned metal that you'll ever come across and with all the killer drumming, Dixie's rumbling distorted bass-lines that pretty much drives the music, heavy-as-fuck guitar work, and the unique growled vocals to boot. Also included is an absolutely smashing cover of "Gimme back my bullets"(Skynyrd). The fact that there's a lot of variety in the songwriting department and the killer production makes this a winner all the fucking way.
Weedeater hail from North Carolina in the US and are Dixie on Bass/Vocals, Shep on Guitars and Keko on Drums.