The Great Sabatini - Dog Years | Review

The Great Sabatini are one of those bands that have existed on the fringes of my experience. No doubt I'm not alone in that regard. Or maybe I'm just hopelessly out of the loop. I mean, the band lives less than a three hour drive away. I surmise that is all about to change with new album, Dog Years. That cover alone should garner at least some added attention.
Whatever the case, this third full-length from the Montreal noiseniks spreads its tendrils far and wide to bring together an array of sounds to pound and confound whoever gets caught in the maelstrom.

The album starts with the frenetic “The Royal We”. A stirring groove gets buried beneath rambunctious and spastic noisecore and gnarly sludge tones. The energy level takes more ups and downs than Elvis Presley's drug regimen but it's done seamlessly and with endless passion.
That sort of tangential convergence continues for the next few tracks leaving the listener unable to focus and constantly off balance. It's at times insane, others bludgeoning and at all times unpredictably catchy. “Nursing Home” for example sounds like someone took angry ska and ran it through a wood chipper run by a methed-out anarchist with commitment issues.
After “Reach” rises from the dust bowl into murderous thunderheads comes “Aleka”. The bluesy ballad is all steely acoustics and clean crooning. It's completely at odds with the rest of the album. But even as the sore thumb of Dog Years it's the track that will get stuck in your head the most.
The Great Sabatini return to messing with your head thereafter. Elastic rubbery riffs break down the defences and pull your mind to bits like the black hole where broken guitars go to die for the rest of the album's duration, concluding in “Life During Wartime”. The track starts with utter heartbreak sore from devastation. It then hardens its resolve to fight back and obliterate speakers and liquidize eardrums like a sludge driven tank.

Dog Years sounds like Torche rehabbing from a Ritalin addiction. It's catchy as sin but ugly and raw. Freebasing percussion, schizo guitars and the kind of post-hardcore vocal flaying you'd expect from the cover's creature motivate the listener to push on no matter how painful the eclecticism gets. Instruments are like putty in their hands as they shape their output to their will. Math-tastic riffs and intricate structures are made to seem like child's play.

Simply put, Dog Years is strange and tons of fun but not without a measure of risk. It's like that friend you always invite because you know that with a few drinks in him he's totally wild and entertaining. But if someone slips him some whiskey he gets stubborn, belligerent and downright mean. Maybe even gets in a fight. But you keeping asking him to come along anyway.

With Dog Years The Great Sabatini walk that perceptive line between brilliance and mad-as-a-hatter. It might take some time and effort to fully appreciate all the depth and nuance to be found but as they say, all good things happen in their own good time. Now let's get crazy!

Matt Hinch

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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.