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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.