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Conflicted - 59%

Beast of Burden, September 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Mayan Records

Use Once and Destroy is an album that's hard to approach for me. I discovered this project by Phil well after its demise and pretty much liked it the moment I heard it. Maybe it's because I've taken a liking to Phil and what he's done for the metal world. With Pantera and Down being huge benchmarks of high-quality metal in each of their respective genres, his name giving way to many distinctly voiced opinions of approval and disapproval, and just the fact he's such a bloody workhorse with never a shortage of ideas clamoring through his mind, I can't help but respect the man's dedication to his craft. And, of course, with so many different projects under his belt, many of which fell through (looking at you, Eibon, Viking Crown, Christ Inversion...), the one that somehow managed to succeed despite many people disliking it was the post-Pantera project Superjoint Ritual.

The band was actually formed in the early to mid-90s when Pantera was very much alive and active, but it wasn't until the band folded that Anselmo would focus on the project long enough to put out a full-length album in 2002. If Phil and his cohorts were building this project over the course of almost a decade, writing and re-writing, recording and re-recording songs, then you'd figure this album would be a slam dunk with maybe the occasional filler track or bump in the road. Not quite. This album is a very mixed bag with more filler than it knows what to do with.

Lots of tracks are forgettable, which is amazing to me given the space of time between this band's formation and this thing's release. Songs like "Haunted Hated" or "Creepy Crawl" fly by with naught a trace, leaving you with nothing to recall its existence except the track list on the back on the CD case. "The Introvert" is by far the most forgettable song on here. I don't really know what to say about it. It exists, but that's about it. Sure, it's fast, there's some riffs, fast drumming, and tempo changes, but what else is there in it worth remembering? Not much. "All Our Lives Will Get Tried" is the same case. It exists. It could've been a good song if it weren't for the transitional breakdowns paced awkwardly in it at two different points, and the oddly sexual sounding groans of Mr. Anselmo during those spaces where the guitar is acting as filler. The riffs from Phil and Jimmy Bower don't stick half the time, nor do the bass lines from Michael Haaga, the drumming from Joe Fazzio, while very good and pleasant to listen to, don't have much power to them because of how dry the album sounds, and Phil's screaming vocals can get directionless at times to the point where it's just frenzied shouts that don't match the lyrics at all.

This album does have some gems worth being mentioned, though. "Fuck Your Enemy" is the obvious culprit and without a doubt the best song on the album. The spirit of the song is fast, frenzied, totally frenetic and off-the-wall. It has great riffs throughout with a thrashy pace that makes you want to bang your head like a maniac. And that part where Phil yells, "Die when you can do no more damage!" is just plain great and the defining moment that sold this album for me. "Ozena" is another great piece that feels druggy and trippy as fuck. A great song to listen to while buzzed out on weed. The second best song on here is "The Alcoholik," which is probably the most controlled song on the album. That's saying a lot because this album feels on the fringes of insanity the entire time. A solid driving mid-paced beat with some of the most memorable, engaging riffs on the album. The title track that closes the album is a strange bit of sludge that lasts for six minutes. I don't know how to describe the riffs on this one. All I can say is that there's a lot going on that really shouldn't go together, but somehow the band makes it work because it's a grower. A few listens and the title track's out of place nature will eventually catch up with you.

In the end, it's really hard to recommend this thing. There are some solid songs here, great ideas and whatnot, but Use Once and Destroy ultimately is glossed over by its shortcomings and foibles like its dry sounding production, forgettable songs, lackluster riffs, and inconsistent nature. A more appropriate title would be Use Once, Put Away to Collect Dust, then Listen Again 10 Years Later. Less memorable title than the aforementioned, but at least it's more honest. It doesn't deserve to be destroyed, nor does it deserve to be forgotten, nor does it deserve to be remembered with fond reverence. It just deserves...something, I don't know.

Soilent Joint Ritual - 82%

Superchard, April 15th, 2018

Well, if you ever wanted to know what happens when you give Phil Anselmo a guitar and say "here you go kid, don't poke an eye out with that thing" then this album is for you. Personally, I'm fine with giving Phil more control over the direction of the music, but I'm one of the rare few that actually like Superjoint Ritual. Even if the band is essentially just mixing their love for Darkthrone, Black Flag and Soilent Green to come up with a debut album that's an amalgamation of sludge metal, hardcore punk and black metal, Use Once and Destroy winds up being a solid debut release for the band. That being said, this is a much harder listen than Down or Pantera, if you're coming from that reference point prepare to either be severely disappointed or pleasantly surprised. Superjoint Ritual is a different beast altogether.

It's not quite as raw as you'd expect a band that's halfway to being a hardcore punk project, but certainly not a tame beast to be reckoned with either. Both Jimmy Bower from Eyehategod and Phil Anselmo share guitar responsibilities, but I don't really see much use for it. Most of the songs on Use Once and Destroy can be done with a single guitar player even in a studio setting as there's nary a guitar solo to be found on it minus the short lived solo on "Fuck Your Enemy". A whopping six seconds, but I understand where they're coming from. After all, the guitar solo on Misfits "We Are 138" is a mere two notes and a bend. Now that's what I call a fucking guitar solo! Seriously though, don't expect guitar mastery here, There's very few catchy or accessible riffs, save for what can be heard on "Stupid, Stupid Man", "Fuck Your Enemy" and "Ozena". The last of which comes out of nowhere as the only "normal" song on the entire album while still staying within the confines of their distinct sound, but injecting just the slightest touch of southern rock.

It's not all punk rock, there are heavier moments as well, and the occasional spark of experimentation. One such moment being the intro to "All of Our Lives Will Get Tried" where I'm pretty sure Jimmy Bower himself doesn't even know what the fuck he's doing, apparently sliding his hand up and down the guitar while allowing it to produce feedback. It's the same kind of stuff you'd hear on an Eyehategod album, but the feedback doesn't serve as the intro to every damn song, Superjoint Ritual is more focused than that. Use Once and Destroy finds itself going full blast hardcore punk one moment only to halt itself in its tracks the next, slowing things down to a absolute crawl. This stop and start motion goes on the entire 55 minutes the disc is spinning and for some listeners it might become tedious or tiresome.

As one may have already inferred, there's a healthy amount of black metal vocals, but Phil keeps things at least a little varied with the hardcore shouts heard in Pantera, and has actually adopted a new style of harsh, deep, throaty grunts as heard on "It Takes No Guts". They're utilized sparingly here, but would become commonplace on later albums. There's the occasional spoken word parts as well, delivered in an annoying moaning manner as if he's having an orgasm. Sorry Phil, but that's really the last thing I want to hear from you.

Believe it or not, Superjoint Ritual are surprisingly tight on their debut album. I'm impressed with the way the band can go from one idea to the next, or one tempo to the next with relative ease, and this is by far Use Once and Destroy's greatest strength. Somehow the drummer doesn't miss a beat among all the chaos. Drummer Joe Fazzio is remarkably talented, he doesn't waste any space and as far as I'm concerned is the most talented member of the band. He spends the entire length of the recording being totally unpredictable, throwing in fills like a machine with laser precision. This unpredictability matched with the stop and start motion throughout the entire album reminds me of the way a band like Fantomas can similarly stop dead in their tracks and go off on a tangent elsewhere. Superjoint Ritual is not writing anything near the level of intricacy of Fantomas, and don't hold a candle to that level of unpredictability. To the band's fault the way in which they transition is not always smooth as butter; but jagged, bumpy and clumsy half the time.

That being said, Superjoint Ritual still manages to come up with some very off the wall song structures while keeping things simple and cathartic. This album truly makes use of what it has at its immediate disposal. Is it the most original thing in the world? No. Soilent Green had already explored a similar style a few years prior to this release, and if it turns out that Superjoint Ritual is in fact ripping them off, at least they're ripping off good shit. When I was younger, I once heard a visual artist tell me that if you can't draw, it's okay to trace, because in doing so you are subliminally teaching yourself how to draw. In a similar manner Use Once and Destroy would be a decent starting point for a sophomore release that doesn't suffer from a lack of originality.

A decade's worth of material for this - 62%

JamesIII, January 12th, 2010

As most know Superjoint Ritual's past runs deep, possibly even farther back than Phil Anselmo was a member of Pantera. I believe the actual formation year, while disputed lies in the late 80's. According to the album insert, most of these songs were written between 1987 - 1997. Given that Jimmy Bower stated that Phil Anselmo wrote close to 80% of this band's material, he was obviously very busy in addition to his work in the more famous Pantera.

Superjoint Ritual was basically an expression of Anselmo's fascination with hardcore and sludge metal, two genres that are often associated in some way. I am particularly fond of the sludge genre, but for some reason, I have not grown fond of this band. I like most of the people involved, Phil Anselmo, Jimmy Bower, and Hank Williams III in particular, though the Hank III was a live bassist only and did not record on this album in particular. However, something about Superjoint Ritual grates the hell out of me. This coming from someone who not only tolerates but is a long time fan of bands like Eyehategod and Buzzoven. Something about this group just does not work for me, though I will say there are a few snippets here and there was work well.

The first example of this would be in the instrumental "Oblivious Maximus." Its already been mentioned as the best track here, and I'd completely agree. Its devoid of Anselmo's throat splitting screams and shrieks, which I did not mind on "The Great Southern Trendkill" but here they annoy the crap out of me. "It Takes No Guts" seems to work pretty well, though it becomes apparent early on that this is in no way an essential listen. I'd hate to say this sounds rushed, but it honestly does. You'd think putting a decade of time into writing these songs, the band would spend a little more time on refining them. I realize it was 2002, and Anselmo was already putting out the second Down album and touring with that band but more effort should have been put into perfecting these songs. I realize "perfecting" and "refining" are not words in the average sludge band's dictionary, nor should it be, but "Use Once & Destroy" sounds like it could have been much better.

I may be a bit hypocritical on all this, as I actually did enjoy some of these tunes. Aside from the two already mentioned, I also liked "Ozena," which slows down and makes something of itself instead of halfway decent thrash that is too short changing on the idea base. I'm really looking too far into this album than I should be, as most of the band members would probably say as this isn't something they regarded as career defining, but why put it out at all? That's what is here for the most part, a short change of ideas and songs that never really manifest themselves beyond convincing the listener to press the skip button. Sure some of these tracks work to a level, but nothing is present that I would steadily regard as essential even for sludge metal fans.

In the end, I can't really stomp this album beneath my boot even though I'd love to at times. There are some redeeming moments here, some even enjoyable, but these are sometimes hard to come by. The music itself is meant mostly for its pure aggression, which this has in spades but aggression never equals a quality listen. I might be looking too much into this, I'm also comparing this to the rest of the sludge genre, which is usually slow and relies on those trusty Black Sabbath riffs. This has it, to some degree, but more or less relies on a quick pace and is out the door before you know what the hell happened. Only a couple of songs allow you grab a hold of them and enjoy. Even when you do, Anselmo shows up with that awful vocal style he decided to try out here and rips you away from the experience. I can't say I recommend this to anyone, unless you found anything or everything I said to be appealing. Its purely a thrash influenced (though not thrash in a pure sense) sludge metal that wasn't thought out a good deal just recorded and thrown out the door. Good for the musical boot to the throat, and about as enjoyable as getting the physical version of that treatment.

Jagged little Phil - 87%

marktheviktor, December 26th, 2008

I have always been more of an admirer of Phil Anselmo's side bands than his most well known outfit Pantera. I think he wears his influences well in a band like Superjoint Ritual and on this album sludge and punk metal are in fine form. This is a fairly pissed off bunch of stoners playing on here with Phil in particular screaming his dope infested lungs off wall to wall. By the end of the record, he sounds like he has a case of the rabies while stoned out of his mind. Superjoint is actually a group he started back in the early to mid nineties with some guys from various sludge bands in the New Orleans area. The southern flavor is quite apparent but this album probably won't appeal to the ragged shirted red neck crowds who worship Dimebag as a god. This is more for those who appreciate The Cro-Mags, early CoC and EyeHateGod with doomish influences.

There is nothing fancy played here, just a bunch of power chords and fast tempo structures. Oblivious Maximus is an instrumental that states this style quite obviously. It Takes No Guts is a crackling and gritty song that follows with a violence that ignites the rest of the album on a blaze of fire. Every One Hates Everyone is just as fast and the guitars take on a doomy Sabbath tone towards the end. The Introvert finds Phil screaming just as in the previous songs at the start and then there is another sludgey breakdown until it cranks up again. Alot of the songs on Use Once and Destroy contain this sort of schizophrenic temperment.

The next two songs are very interesting because they have the feel of groove metal converted into rabid punk tracks. Fuck Your Enemy especially sounds like punkish Pantera with its almost anthemic chorus and the drumming here reminds a bit of Vinnie Paul's. I do wonder if this was originally written for a Pantera recording at some point. At any rate, I am glad it made it to this band's songlist instead. It's an amusing detour.

Things kick back into the straight punk metal mode starting with 4 Songs which is a medley like combo of demos. It's a pretty good track that wraps itself up nicely before it goes on too long. Messages is a short song that starts with an acutely down-tuned riff. Alot of the songs run together well. If you don't look at the track listing, you won't notice that the next song has come on. Antifaith serves as the to bridge the fast punk style to the rest of the album that slows down with each song to a sludgy conclusion. This stage of Use Once and Destroy is my favorite. Drug Your Love is the cut that really made me fond of the album. There is a short riff on it that is identical to the one found Messages and perhaps on one other song too but just below the minute mark, there comes an absolutely splendid Sabbath-y breakdown that always gets my blood pumping.

The album always sounds like it should; just pure drug induced aggression bursting with hate and paranoia. Phil Anselmo is a great singer who can always be counted on to bring his demons to the fore with gusto and musicianship. Cleary, most of this album was written during his smack addict years. He sounds tortured and there is not a false note of pretense in doing a project this stripped down. Roll a joint, crank up the player and enjoy Phil's exorcism Ritual.

A Kick to the Fucking Teeth. - 66%

woeoftyrants, May 7th, 2007

Some people love Phil, and others hate him. This rule also applies to just about every band the man has ever played in. I can honestly say that I was never a huge fan of Pantera, but I adore Down and am quite the fan SJR. Most people loathe this band simply for the fact that it's a sludge/punk/hardcore hybrid, and the fact that Phil has endlessly bragged about it. Through and through, though, SJR's debut proves to be an entertaining listen.

The band's overall sound is fairly raw, despite the clean production. Most people can't stand this album for a few reasons, one of them being the musical abilities of the band members. Musically, everything is approached in a dead-simple way; the guitars riffs are 100% driven by power chord patterns, and the riffs themselves are anything but complex or technical; the drums have a great amount of power and consistency behind them with some occasional double bass, but remain direct in the album's course, usually only composed of rigid backbeats with occasional fills alternated with thrash/punk beats. There are some fairly interesting change-ups here and there in timing and structure, but everything remains incredibly linear for the majority of the time. The simplicity in the arrangements and playing techniques helps things out, though; with a clear punk/hardcore influence in the sound, the reckless attitude and mentality behind the songs comes through wonderfully, and the sludgy NOLA-styled breakdowns will make any doom fan happy. Most of the song structures are short and direct, generally following an A-B template and switching riffs off with one another. This works for a while, but can become repetitive very quickly with most of the songs being at relatively the same pace, regardless of musical transitions. One aspect saves this, though; mid-paced groove-heavy songs like "The Alcoholik" and "Ozena" help to break things up, and show the undeniable sludge metal roots of the band. "4 Songs" is another exception to the rule, which haphazardly switches between dissonant breakdowns and spastic punk/metal passages.

Despite the musical simplicity and one-way song structures, SJR still know how to write damn good riffs and how to infect the songs with the strung-out, raw aesthetic that springs from the lyrics. Sometimes they're strictly one string bashings of a few notes, but the light-speed tempos and fierce bravado do wonders for everything. "The Introvert" starts off with violent speed riffs before breaking into an infectious breakdown; the cycle repeats one more time, and another barrage of massive breakdowns finishes the song up. "The Alcoholik" lives up to its name with a catchy, pounding main riff that powers the song, and Phil's harsh shouts make it even better. The album's later tracks take things back into merciless punk/metal territory, but still maintain a doom/sludge backdrop for the sake of dynamics. Nothing on display here will make you drop your jaw in amazement, as far as musicianship goes; but it will definitely floor you with its attitude.

One would be led to believe that such an uncompromising attitude would lead to a faltered musical delivery, but that's not the case here; each musician is clearly on top of his game, especially Joe, the drummer. This album spent a long time in the making, and it's clear to see; every musician's chops are fine-honed to perfection. There's not one noticeable mark of sloppiness or laziness, and the guitars stay an impeccably tight and mechanical unit.

Phil also shows a different side here; there's very little actual singing here, which has been ditched in favor a gutteral, gravelly shout. There are some occasional high-pitched screams, but his delivery is largely the same. His vocal lines follow the same course as the music, but the conviction and polish behind his performance is hard to deny. Most of the songs have a fair amount of lyrics, which is yet another aspect of this album that people tend to dislike. The lyrics themselves, as expected, follow themes of drug use; not so much the substance abuse itself as the disjointed, schizophrenic, and disturbing frames of mind and mental images that are left behind. They may seem nonsensical at first, but give a nice glimpse into the fucked-up mind of a long-time drug user.

The album's production is also of note: it's incredibly thick and clean without taking away the dirty essence of the music. The drums in particular are punchy and well-captured, and the guitars use a gritty, somewhat lo-fi distortion that has a huge amount of low-end without washing out the rest of the instruments.

If there's any problems with this album, it's two main things that are quite a hefty blow to its points: the length lingers a bit too long; the album is almost an hour long. Another issue is the lack of variety; it's damn near impossible to endure this album in one setting, not because of the intensity, but because of the fact that many of the songs begin to run together and become quite boring. Aside from that, Use Once and Destroy will fucking kill you.

It gets the 30% for one damn song. - 30%

Crank_It_Up_To_666, February 7th, 2007

Hell, you can’t kick shit at Phil Anselmo for being so damn pro-active. The man has been in a total of ELEVEN bands in his time, two of which (Down and Pantera) have produced two of the greatest metal albums ever (‘NOLA’ and ‘Vulgar Display Of Power’, in case anyone’s still paying attention). So, no, you can’t fault the man for having a undying, burning enthusiasm that doesn’t look like it’s gonna fizzle out anytime soon, especially now that the mighty Down have been revived.

Unfortunately, ‘enthusiastic’ is not always going to equal ‘good.’ And you need look no further than Superjoint Ritual’s debut album to have that fact smacked right in your face, but be warned – if you’re a hardcore Anselmo fan and haven’t heard this god-awful mash up of punk and sludge metal, then it’s a damn good idea you steer clear, to save your self the crushing disappointment.

Of course, crushing may not be the appropriate adjective to use when describing the Superjoint, because it certainly can’t apply to this album. The production can take the blame for that – with Anselmo’s trademark screams predictably pushed to the fore, the mix makes a valiant stab at sounding sludgy and caustic, but instead ends up sounding…well, plain. Put simply, it sounds plain and bland and dull. An utterly lifeless mix, no matter how good the musicianship and songcraft, can really bring an album down, and ‘Use Once And Destroy’ has ‘lifeless mix’ stamped all over it.

But, I hear you heckle, surely the aforementioned musicianship and songcraft can surely save the album? Uh… well, you won’t wanna hear it, but… no. In fact, HELL NO.

Of course, Superjoint Ritual make a game attempt at fooling you into thinking that they can write lots of kick ass songs. They do so by placing the only kick ass song on the record second on the track listing - the mighty ‘It Takes No Guts’ is, I will admit, a fucking brilliant slab of punk and metal fused together, with a hateful, violent streak of lyrical fury welded on for good measure. For two minutes and six seconds, all thoughts of such technicalities as production and mix are forgotten as you begin to immerse yourself in what promises to be a real bitch of a record.

And then all of a sudden, it does turn into a bitch of a record – for all the wrong reasons. For the remainder of the album’s playing time, what seems like the same punky riff is recycled again and again, until it gets so far beyond the point of tedium that you can’t bear to have the fucking disc in the stereo anymore. Any virtuosity hinted at by Anselmo’s backing band (face it, backing band is all they bloody well are) is quickly stifled by the main man’s inability to stop ranting and raging for five seconds. Up until hearing this I thought that listening to endless repeats of Christina Aquilera from the car radio was an endurance test – so finding that Anselmo has spawned such a test pisses me off no end.

So if you won’t hear a word against the former Pantera frontman and are generally a sad sludge metal completist, by all means go and snatch this little ‘Southern dandy’ up. But you have been fucking warned.

And Phil left Pantera because of this?? - 73%

Antikrist, September 19th, 2004

Well...this album is okay. Certainly better than the follow-up to it. It sounds like a lot of good old fashioned Pantera style anger pointed in no real direction whatsoever. The band employs some heavy metal, thrash, and at times even death metal techniques in it's all-out frontal assault. Blast beats can be found from place to place. At its worst, it's basically meaningless and unoriginal and (as another reviewer said) Phil's vocal performance is the only thing worth listening to. At it's best, it can be EXTREMELY catchy. You'll get some good headbanging value out of this if you buy it. I must mention that the artwork is excellent. And kudos to Phil for picking up his guitar in this band too rather than just sticking to vocals. If you're expecting something up to Pantera standards, you'll probably be disappointed. But if you like Pantera, odds are you will get some enjoyment out of this. Two songs on here which MUST be heard are Fuck Your Enemy and Starvation Trip. If you don't feel like spending money on the album, just try to get those two tracks through some other means, both of them kick all kinds of ass!

Very Catchy - 66%

langstondrive, October 4th, 2003

Let me start this by saying how incredibly fucking disappointed I am that Phil Anselmo quit Pantera and focused on this much less of a group. This album is all hardcore-thrash-stoner type stuff. The riffs are all there, and all good and Phil sounds pretty decent (except too many high pitched screams, which he is not great at). The songs are very punk oriented, and anybody that knows me knows that I hate punk to death, but this is somewhat acceptable simply because of the thrash element. The opening song Oblivious Maximus, is an instrumental and is my 2nd favourite song on the album. It has a slower opening, but quickly turns into a 3 minute thrashfest. Then there is like 10 decent songs in a row. Literally. Not one really stands out, they all have the same fast punkish drumming, muddled guitar done and Phil's annoying scream. Antifaith is pretty good, because the chorus and the verse are completly different, unlike the previous couple of songs. After this, Stupid, Stupid Man is half decent and Haunted Hated also. These songs sound basically the same as everything else, but in a bit better taste. Then, the finale of the album, Superjoint Ritual which is a fucking cool song. It becomes evident that Phil's screams bear no relation to the lyrics whatsoever, so I shall concentrate on the music. There are 4 main parts, and they are each pretty damn evil. The best is the last part, for the final 2 minutses of the album.

In retrospect, I wish that I had not bought this, because it just isin't worth it. Be sure to check out "Superjoint Ritual" and "Oblivious Maximus" though.

1. Oblivous Maximus - 9/10
2. It Takes No Guts - 6/10
3. Everyone Hates Everyone - 5/10
4. The Introvert - 6/10
5. The Alcoholik - 6/10
6. Fuck Your Enemy - 4/10
7. 4 Songs - 3/10
8. Messages - 5/10
9. All of our Lives will get Tried - 7/10
10. Antifaith - 8/10
11. Ozena - 7/10
12. Drug Your Love - 8/10
13. Haunted Hated - 8/10
14. Stupid, Stupid Man - 8/10
15. Creepy Crawl - 3/10
16. Superjoint Ritual - 9/10

The last 2 songs are demos, Starvation Trip turns into "Waiting for the Turning Point", which is on A Lethal Dose of American Hatred.

Don't Even Use Once, Just Destroy - 20%

PowerProg_Adam, February 28th, 2003

For an album that I thought sounded pretty crappy, Superjoint gets a 20% merely because they have one pretty good song here, also a pretty competent drummer, but then again what so-called death metal band doesn't, and Hank Williams III gives it a boost, although he can't play very well, just because at least he is defying the legacy of his family.

It is extremely difficult to tell any of these songs apart really. Some songs don't sound too bad, but they all sound the same pretty much. They have about 2 minutes of rather incoherent playing with about 30 seconds of Phil Anselmo screaming.

The one positive song on this album is Fuck Your Enemy. At least Phil starts to sound a little better here, and the playing is just a bit more coordinated than most of the other songs. For what resembles a death metal album, I am really surprised there aren't more songs that you can at least headbang to. Fuck Your Enemy is probably one of the few songs on here that sounds even remotely like something Pantera might do.

If you are a Phil Anselmo worshipper and think he can do no wrong, by all means buy this album, but if you agree that Phil is really starting to lose it like I do, you'll probably agree that this album isn't really worth using once, just destroying.