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A fun yet hostile display - 68%

JamesIII, January 25th, 2010

Within the last several years, there seems to be a rising of bands who played down 'n dirty heavy rock, which often gets branded as sludge metal. The term "sludge" definitely fits to a lot of bands these days, it no longer just applies to the originators in bands like The Melvins, Crowbar, etc. There are also a good number of bands out there who write fun songs firmly planted in the sludge genre, one that was once reserved for bands who dialed the fare of impending doom, depression, oppression, misanthropy and what not. Motherboar is just such a band, who filter in a lot of fun tendencies within the album "Raise the Death Toll," yet after hearing the lyrics I can't possibly see this as anything one would take seriously.

To best analyze this band's sound, I can refer to a comparison I once heard made about them being a cross between Mastodon and Motorhead. While that combination sounds like a gateway to a horrid musical nightmare, its actually quite right. The drummer isn't nearly the showman Brann Dailor is, which is absolutely fine with me because we don't get that sense of random beats and technical nonsense that I always got out of Mastodon. The songs actually have structure as well, for the most part, as opposed to Mastodon's tendency to simply go here, there, everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. They do filter in that sludgey appeal that Mastodon has (or had on earlier efforts) though the guitar tone is muddier. The Motorhead influence is downright obvious from the get-go, with some speed metal sections that glance back at that band on numerous occasions. Even frontman Kenny Irwin sifts in some Lemmy Kilmister influence with the pure grit of his voice. He also brings in some Troy Sanders and Randy Blythe influence as well, but I'd argue he isn't nearly as nerve racking as those two.

Given that this little album is eight songs and 25 minutes in length, and the fact that the heavy sludge rock is omnipresent here for the most part, I won't break this down track by track. I will say that we do get a myriad of influences in here, in addition to the ones already stated. The opener in "Ode to Swine" has been compared to something Soundgarden might have done on "Badmotorfinger," which in all honesty is a pretty good comparison. Songs like "Raise the Death Toll" and "Terrordactyl" both bring that Motorhead speed metal influence, adding a fun and adrenalinized vibe to the mix. The lyrics are downright comical and basically just words conjured up at the last minute to put into the song. Believe me, no one will have a cerebral experience reading these lyrics as they are as simple as one could imagine. Still, the album does not take itself seriously, counterbalancing most issues one could have with the lyrical content.

Despite most of these songs being winners, we do run into a couple of traps. The biggest issue is "Get Inside," a slower moment that meanders like no tomorrow. It simply plods along for a couple of minutes, eventually doing something worthwhile, that is, if you havn't hit the skip button by the time it stops dragging ass. That's really the only downer, except maybe that "Imperial Lagerblayde" (again, not too genius on the titles) reminds me too much of Mastodon. Still, these are minor complaints given that six out of eight songs are worth a listen, they just don't necessarily bring the urge to hear them again.

While I can't throw "Raise the Death Toll" under the bus, I can't take it seriously either. Since the album itself isn't meant to be taken seriously, this alleviates my complaints a little. Still, by the time you hear this once you have no real desire to hear it again, except maybe the full on charger in the title track. Its fun for what it is, but it doesn't really have those factors that make Clutch or Alabama Thunderpussy such fun to listen to over and over. I like this band, regardless, and it being their first album I'm not going to criticize them too harshly. If you like light-hearted sludge rock that likes to speed it up once in a while, maybe you can track this Boston act down. As for me, I'll be listening for them again, but I have too many other artists that do what Motherboar does, but only better to spend alot of time re-listening to this over and over.