Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

A lesson in lunacy - 80%

Zerberus, May 1st, 2014

Drug Honkey evolved from the 1997-project "Chronic Illogic" with Paul Gillis and Adam Smith at the helm, handling vocals and drums respectively. The band was designed to merge together several musical currents, most of which would be considered metal. Ever since the first album, the self-titled 2002 release, electronics in the form of excessive sampling and abrassive synths as well as an industrial, sludgy death metal sound have been the heart and soul of Drug Honkey. Through lineup changes and live performances the band from Chicago has endured to see the release of their fourth album in 2012, and have a new EP coming out in 2014.

When it comes to heaviness, bands like Triptykon, Conan, Hooded Menace, Sunn o))) or Coffins often come up as prime examples. But those that have witnessed the gospel of Ghost in the Fire know that Drug Honkey are giving all these acts a serious run for their money. The loathesome American quartet grudgingly strikes up an atmosphere of a psychedelic inclination, carved from a body of fuzz and reverb. More than once the speakers threatened to give in under the stress and booming rumble of the downtuned strings, the paranoia-inducing ambience adding reality-shattering depth to the otherwise lonesome drones of the bass and guitars.

Describing Drug Honkey's sound means reaching deep into a vocabulary that seems almost dried out of adequate adjectives. The cavernesque vocals sound at times like Asphyx's Martin Van Drunen being firmly pressed through a rusty grate. The drums eeriely accompany every track like the ever-present stalker haunting his victim. The album comes to a steadily paced halt on the second-to-last track "Twitcher", which is also where it is at its most far out stage. The stygian darkness of this psychedelic track builds up to the grand finale: Saturate/Annihilate, the culmination of everything shown thus far by Drug Honkey. The contrast between the two is where the mix becomes most volatile and seductively dangerous, being both the highest and lowest point of Ghost in the Fire. Every "song" is in itself a parody of life and a mockery of sentience, yet I couldn't imagine listening to Ghost in the Fire for the sake of a single track. The album works best as a whole, each track providing its own element to the final result. A fine specimen indeed.

Originally posted on

An Incredible Musical Journey - 100%

arcanusdevious, December 11th, 2012

After indulging in the ear-bleeding experience offered by Ghost in the Fire, Drug Honkey’s fourth studio album, I am absolutely convinced that the tired cliche of a third time's the charm does not hold water. Ghost in the Fire’s veteran release has shown me the error of my ways. I am humbled by the experience. My mind has been broken, now sundered into a million little pieces, by this sinister landmark album. For now I will staunchly claim that it has to be the fourth. Until of course, Drug Honkey proves me and the cliche wrong with another release.

Although Drug Honkey - their self-titled debut, Hail Satan, and Death Dub are all exceptional albums, this new album proves, at least in my opinion, that Drug Honkey are evolving towards musical Godhood, aggressively clamoring upwards towards the pinnacle of experimental greatness. Listen to this haunting album and I doubt you will find anything to artistically deconstruct. Words cannot express how powerful this new outing is, or the mind-blowing efficacy this ambient doom approach, these eclectic theme songs for the apocalypse, have had on this mere mortal’s psyche. This album blew my mind!

Each song starts basic, stripped down to the core like bloodied meat on a butcher’s block and as bare bones as a mammoth carcass feasted upon by vultures. As a track progresses, multiple layers are added: interchanging background & forefront hellish synth/sample emanations to accent, while adding the plodding bass and drum beats; tuned down guitars that impress a cacophony of horrific sounds, ranging from bleak death metal power chords, to plucked reverberations reminiscent of lamenting whales; menacing vocals that traverse several genres from spoken word to gurgled black metal hisses to visceral death metal growls to maniacal Pattonesque vocal modulations. All of these abyssal sounds converge to suffer psychotic audible carnage upon the listener.

Ghost in the Fire feels like Drug Honkey’s most realized album. Not to detract from their other releases, but I sense more confidence in the design of each brutal track, more deliberation. To great effect, improvisation has taken a backseat to an impressive creative conviction that follows very few rules save for keeping it painfully heavy and woefully slow.

A banshee wail ushers in Order of the Solar Temple, Ghost in the Fire’s opening track, which sets the tone for this plutonian exercise in dread-born sludge. In Black Robe, which is now in my Ipod’s most played songs, epitomizes despair and will leave a mark as potent as Caine’s upon the listener’s soul. A theme song for John Bunyan’s, Slough of Despond where souls sink under the weight of their sins and the sense of guilt for having committed them, would be an ideal summation of this slithering aria. Nachtmystium’s, Blake Judd offers vocal & lead guitar support on Weight of the World, which I’m inclined to say, was a match made in hell. With stellar productions values, each and every song on this album has something to offer a connoisseur of macabre doom.

Drug Honkey's music is an anomaly, a deviation, even from the musically abnormal, in that the sound eschewed is both meaningfully composed and psychotically tempered. Each composition contradicts itself, leaving one believing that the ideas herein represent nihilism, a fetid ideology with little patience for an emotional response to any of the songs produced for this opus. But listen harder, listen and scrutinize, and you'll find that beneath the gelid drones and dismal ambience, there lies cryptic lamentations about the subtle tortures of civilization and the malevolent influence of earth's remorseless manipulators. This visceral masterpiece should be added to any experimental music lover’s collection.

A Vile Fermentation of the Drug Honkey Sound - 85%

Satanic_Shoe, September 27th, 2012

Four years after the bizarre and sickening Death Dub, Drug Honkey returns with another hideous, drug-addled fiend of an album dubbed so pleasantly Ghost in the Fire. Here, the Chicago-based avant-doom outfit tones down the garish experimentation in favor of lead-heavy riffs and a bone-crushing atmosphere reminiscent of Electric Wizard or Bongripper. There’s even some USBM influence that sneaks its way in as a slathering of lurching tremolo riffs, including a guest appearance from Black Judd of Twilight and Nachtmystium fame. But by-and-by, Ghost in the Fire sees Drug Honkey sticking to a more standard sludge / doom sound, forgoing the rabid psychedelia from before in favor of something more…professional.

For one, the synths are meshed much more into the wall of instruments; no more stark contrast between grinding Godfleshian dirges and synthesized psychedelic throbs, or bringing the rest of the band to a screeching halt only to reveal the seething, crawling textures underneath. No; what we get instead is a much denser and overwhelming sound. Nothing so cavernous or open as Death Dub, but more like the walls are closing in on you, crushing you, and the synths are the only putrid air you have left to breath, slowly dwindling in supply. The drums, once ragged pots and pans, are full-on sledge-hammers to your knee-caps. You’re crippled and immobile and the guitar and bass are those very walls pressing in on you, sturdy and concrete, encompassing your insignificant person all around, no longer the rusted and corrugated tin slabs crawling with roaches and open-eye acid visuals; they are your slow and persistent demise. And of course Paul Gillis still wretches and bellows under his “signature” vocal processing, especially menacingly evident on tracks like “Heroin III”, “Five Years Up”, and the title track, reinforcing gross inhumanity, sounding like a mechanized Alan Dubin, or Scott Kelly crawling out of a k-hole.

While perhaps not quite as varied as its predecessor (listen to “Burundi (Reconstruct)” and tell me that isn’t fucking outlandish, even compared to the rest of Death Dub), Ghost in the Fire is still a challenging and tumultuous listen, and the variety that is here is much subtler, less jarring. The unexpected melodic touches spread throughout the album, like the ghastly lead in the opening track “Order of the Solar Temple”, and the overall stability, smoothness, and accessibility of the songwriting ironically make this easier on the ears in one respect, but hint at dark and foreboding Neurosis/Isis/post-metal clouds blooming on the horizon. Drug Honkey also seems to be drawing (as mentioned before) much more heavily on the American black metal scene. The album is littered with tremolo leads and black-doom atmospherics reminiscent of USBM vets Wolves in the Throne Room, Weakling, Xasthur, Twilight, etc., which seems less surprising considering Black Judd’s guest vocal appearance on “Weight of the World”. This album is dense and will certainly take you on a hell of a trip: “This Time I Won’t Hesitate” drowns you in ambience and whirl of psychotic vocals; “Dead Days” drones into the oblivion of an opiate nod; chaotic clatter on “Out of My Mind” has you on the edge of your seat waiting for a sweet end that arrives in a bludgeoning climax; loose, jazzy drumming on “Twitcher” (which may very well be the best track on here) offsets stuttering feedback drones; and finally, you succumb to “Saturate / Annihilate” and are trampled broken into the dirt.

Perhaps my only gripe with this album is that it sticks to the doom / sludge slow-burn a little too much, plodding and plodding away until it dissolves into the ether. And for one last Death Dub comparison, Gillis and co. should take a lesson from its predecessor and be sure to throw in those occasional speedy (I use this term lightly) moments, a la “The Devil Lasts Forever” and “Communion”, on future releases just to further remind us how unsettling they can be. Hell, maybe they should even try out some grind riffs and blast beats! Regardless, I look forward to what these guys have in store for us in the future as their sound certainly is progressing and maturing in interesting, forward-thinking ways. Drug Honkey is exactly that breath of fresh air that doom metal has needed, and their past two efforts are a testament to that.

I didn't think the world could get any darker... - 90%

autothrall, July 22nd, 2012

Upon my first exposure to Chicago's Drug Honkey and their 2008 album Death Dub, I have to admit I just wasn't prepared for the group's level of psychotropic sonic depression and ritual abuse, but this time I have come armed and ready: a bottle of vodka sits on the upper left corner of my desktop, next to a careful arrangement of painkillers and other substances I'd rather not discuss. My last will and testament has been prepared, notarized and sent off to the family attorney. I called my parents and loved ones to hear their voices for what might be the last time, and I broke out and loaded a handgun, just in case I needed a fast, decisive exit from the emotional oppression I was about to endure.

Several days later, I emerge fully destroyed from Ghost in the Fire, but thankfully the safety never came off the pistol, and the mixed liquor and pills weren't enough to kill me thanks to what I can only assume is some remnant of youthful metabolism. I realize my prolonged existence might disappoint a great number of you, but then, this band hasn't broken up yet. Ghost... is the band's fourth full-length excursion, and surprisingly more accessible than its predecessor, but it continues to wreak its crushing lessons upon the listener with baleful distinction and raw certainty. Some will dub this funeral doom, or death/doom, but in truth there are so many eclectics ingredients to the group's compositions that it defies any simple attempt at categorization. You can make out traces of sludge, psychedelic ambiance, even hardcore barking and a conversation, narcotic bred drawl infused with the harsher, growled vocals. The band certainly crawls along at a sluggish general pace, but where other groups like Skepticism or Esoteric provide trance-like hallucination and escape, these guys speak from the depression of the bottle, the heroin needle, the crackpipe and other urban vices.

Structurally and song-wise, this disc surpasses their last in overall quality because it's better able to grab the listener by his brow and then force his/her face directly down into a bowl of retch and torture. The huge, fuzzy bass lines will trip out your speakers within minutes, the drudging lower end chords serve as skeletal support for the eerie, minimal melodies over "Order of the Solar Temple", the drums throw a lot of fills at you to help break up potential monotony, and and 'Honkey Head' Paul Gillis instantly captivates you with his expressive, vocal variation that ranges from a morbid, guttural abomination to a clearer, persuasive bark, all saturated in echo and reverb enough to rattle around your ears and brain like bullets that failed to exit through the back of your skull. The architecture of the music might not seem inherently complex or intricate, but it doesn't need to be: its harrowing texture leaves the same imprint on your heart whether you're listen to it the first or twentieth time, like an unlikely union of Disembowelment, Mindrot, Neurosis, Today is the Day and Rollins Band.

But Ghost in the Fire exceeds even this praise, thanks to the psychiatric variation coursing through each of the cuts. Songs like the title track or "Weight of the World" revel in their droning, dissonant discourse while Gillis crashes around the stratosphere like an extreme metal Leary, while the thuggish bass lines lurch along like primordial swamp predators, slowly closing on their sustenance. There's a subtle sense of bruised glory in pieces like "In Black Robe", where the riffs seem mildly more consonant and uplifting, and even the drier tones in tracks like "Five Years Up" compensate with the strong balance of percussion, unwashed feedback and the natural ambiance created through this crossroads of aural desolation. Not a song on this fucking album will fail to envelop you in mournful tatters, like some dopamine ragman coming to lay claim to your soul, and it's hands down one of the most compelling and simultaneously repellant arguments for human extinction you are likely to have all year, a masterful monolith of suffering and spiritual debilitation. Avoid at your own risk. Experience at twice that risk.