Eyehategod - Eyehategod | Review

Any metal fan worth their weight in salt should know the indelible mark Eyehategod has made on the scene since the 90s. They practically defined the sludge genre with seminal album like 1993's Take As Needed For Pain and 1996's Dopesick. Their drug fuelled and dirty-as-a-sewer mix of Sabbath-laced doom and hardcore intensity has influenced countless bands over the last 20-some years. But it's been a long, hard 14 years since EHG graced us with a new album. The wait is over.

The New Orleans quintet has returned with 11 tracks of filth and sweat for this self-titled release. One wouldn't really have expected any mellowing out as the band as aged though. Far from it. If anything life has only become harder in The Big Easy. Hurricane Katrina left New Orleans a ruin from which some will never recover. If that wasn't enough, drummer Joey LaCaze passing suddenly in 2013 no doubt left a permanent scar on the band's heart. Thankfully, LaCaze's drum tracks had already been recorded for the album. His contribution to EHG's rebirth is both tragic and special.

The situation has to have affected the band's performance in completing the album without him. Guitarists Jimmy Bower and Brian Patton, bassist Gary Mader and vocalist Mike IX Williams more than do justice to LaCaze's memory.

Eyehategod is just as grimy, infected and scabrous as anything they've done previous. The tone is devilishly meaty and patently recognizable. Riding waves of feedback through strained amps, gut-wrenching riffs pile up on the listener's back, weighing them down while at the same time driving them forward.

The blatant Sabbath influence colours the whole album but most notably on “Parish Motel Sickness” and “Worthless Rescue”. Their hardcore leanings run you down on “Agitation! Propaganda!” and “Framed to the Wall”. And all the while they display the sort of snarling and heavy-handed sludge mastery they've become renowned for.

Williams plies his visceral trade through the swampy murk with reckless abandon. All the pain and struggle oozes from his pores. His social consciousness and unique view on life fuels his impassioned performance with a lyrical approach framed by his streetwise and ingrained intelligence. He's always intense, slavering and thought provoking.

Unreasonably high expectations have been placed on Eyehategod. The band's adoration and legend has done nothing but grow in their recorded absence. Unlike many other renewed acts, EHG have lived up to those expectations. Sure, the production value may separate this album from its predecessors but all the dirt, all the heaving anguish, all that makes EHG who they are is still there. Eyehategod is a glorious return enhancing their legacy and an outstanding testament to the memory of Joey LaCaze.

RIP Joey and long live Eyehategod!

Matt Hinch 

Band info: www.facebook.com/OfficialEyeHateGod
Label info: www.centurymedia.com

Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Metal Bandcamp, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @KingdomofNoise.