Yo, my name’s Josh. I’ve spent the last decade or so in live events and festivals curating my favorite films and bands. But my free time is spent as a caveman metalhead, always searching for the next soul-shattering record to quench my blood-thirsty soul. There’s a natural crossover between horror and heavy music, and “Blast This!” aims to explore that, while sharing with you some of the gems of the underground. High school was stupid and I was raised on late-night video nasties and MTV’s ‘Headbanger’s Ball’. If that sounds a li’l like you, turn this shit up and go buy some damn records!
What defines heavy metal?
Sure, it’s an attitude, but I’d argue it all begins with the power of a riff. And on Friday the 13th 1970, a group of blue-collar ass-beaters from Birmingham kicked off their self-titled debut record “Black Sabbath” with the riff that changed everything. Inspired by blues, rock n’ roll, and horror flicks, Sabbath channeled their inner gloom, delivering a masterful slab of iconic darkness & distortion unlike anyone had seen before. In the church of heavy metal, Sabbath to this day reigns supreme, and guitarist Tony Iommi’s iconic neck-breaking groove-laden riffs have inspired just about all of your favorite bands.
And while taste is obviously subjective, 20 years after the formation of Sabbath, across the Atlantic in the southern swamps of NOLA, one of my favorite bands, Eyehategod, was formed. Taking the foundation of the riff that Sabbath perfected, Eyehategod tossed the formula into a slow motion meat grinder, and seasoned it with their own vile, bruising, angry, downtuned, drugged-out punk as fuck sludge. Like Black Sabbath, they set the standard for a new breed of metal, legends of their own right, and every bit as iconic to the underground.
Eyehategod records don’t come around very often. A History of Nomadic Behavior (out March 12th on Century Media) is only their 6th full length album in 30 years, their first since 2014. A helluva lot has happened since then, both in the world and within the band. In 2016, through a crowdsourcing campaign fans helped vocalist Mike Williams undergo a successful liver transplant after he was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. Ever the road dogs, the band pummeled through with Pantera’s Phil Anselmo and Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe performing vocal duties. 6 months later, Williams made a warrior comeback.
To understand the band is to know their history, and that’s what partially makes this album such an epic fucking miracle. I’m sure the band would be the first to admit it, but no one thought they’d be standing on stage at 50, surviving a history riddled with rampant drug use and road antics that’d make Motley Crue look like amateurs.
But here we are.
And I say this as the “highest” possible compliment: Eyehategod hasn’t changed. And if you’re a fan, why the hell on earth would you ever want them to? They know what they wanna play, they know what we wanna hear, and they know how to do it better than anyone else.
A History of Nomadic Behavior is everything you’re hoping it would be. Sick, furious, blues heavy riff rock, with Williams tortured trademark “yo, I just ate broken glass for breakfast” vocals. You can straight up feel his pain. Legendary axeman Jimmy Bower returns with ruthless fury after a break from touring, bludgeoning you with his signature face-melting slow groove. I’ve seen these guys live many times over the years and Bower is one of the tightest players I’ve had the pleasure of watching. If you worship the amplifier, Bower’s shredding here is pure metal gospel.
Somehow, this is the angriest you’ve seen Eyehategod. “To a certain extent, we thrive on being miserable” William’s admitted. “Sometimes you just hate everything, and for some strange reason we’re just motivated by that vibe”. “The riots and the elections and COVID were all happening and all that was in the back of my mind when I did vocals for this record.”
Needless to say, that depressive hate is felt from front to back all the way through the repetitious tortured closer, with scathing anthemic lyrics like “Wake up every day, go to work, go to school, every day, every day, every day. Wake up at 6 am. Go to work. Every Day. Every day. Agggggggh.” He finishes the song screaming “KILL YOUR BOSS.”
On the 11th track “Circle of Nerves”, the fury culminates into a blood-curdling “MOTHERFUCKER”, over a nerve-shredding outro riff monster that makes you want to run through a wall.
And really, that’s what Eyehategod does best, They embrace all the evil, all the pain, and all the mayhem that represents heavy metal. They wrap it into a ball of hatred and pummel it into your soul. It’s not pleasant, nor is it meant to be. But that’s what defines heavy metal. Tortured outsider art meant to disturb and upset the system.
Nobody does it better than Eyehategod. A History of Nomadic Behavior proves just that. Nobody ever has, and nobody ever will. This is goddamn essential fucking listening.
Other Neck Wreccomendations:
The Obsessed – The Church Within & Lunar Womb (1994)
More traditional heavy metal, almost simplistic in its form. Don’t take the word simple as lazy though, it’s hard to write hooks and melody this catchy, but Scott “Wino” Weinrich (also of Saint Vitus fame) makes it all look easy. They’re amongst the heavyweights of stoner rock, and this should be a very easy listen for just about anyone even semi-interested in rock. In a better world, these dudes would be headlining stadiums. After one listen I guarantee you’ll be, uh, don’t hate me for this…obsessed. Listen on various streaming platforms.
Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning (2021)
The latest release from Profound Lore, one of the few metal labels I’ll legit blind buy from no questions asked. This is some sick twisted psychedelic blackened death metal. Still trying to understand what they’re doing with the guitars, so you’ll just have to hear it for yourself. Gonna need some more time with this, but fully expecting it to be high at the top of my list of favorites this year. Listen on Bandcamp.
Agalloch – Marrow of The Spirit (2010)
Legit one of the most harrowing visceral and beautiful atmospheric black metal records you’ll ever hear. This one is not for the impatient as songs can run as long as 17 minutes. But it’s about the journey and the emotion. If you want a glimpse at THE perfect American black metal record, spend an hour with this. You won’t regret it. Listen on Bandcamp.
Old Tower – Stellary Wisdom (2018)
Here’s a record tailor-made for Bloody Disgusting readers. Instrumental dungeon synth for the carnivorous wannabe vampires looking to be transported to an evening of doom & gloom in Dracula’s castle. Dark, ambient, primitive, this is total occult worship, harkening back to medieval times. Pair this with a fog machine for full effect. Listen on Bandcamp.
John Bush Era Anthrax // Armored Saint – Punching The Sky (2020)
Whatever. Just like you, I thought I was way too rad for this shit back then. But all hail Dad metal, and the new Armored Saint is so goddamn catchy it makes me wanna raise a child and refinance a mortgage. I also snagged vinyl copies of the forever out of print STOMP 442 and never before released on record VOLUME 8 from Anthrax. Now that you’re older you owe yourself a revisit. They’re way cooler than you remember and you’re probably way less cooler than you think you were. Listen to Armored Saint’s Punching The Sky on various platforms.