For the better part of the last 14 years, things have been pretty quiet for New Orleans based sludge metal legends Eyehategod. When the band burst on to the scene in the early ’90s, they took the metal world by force. Their brand of aggressive, blues-rooted metal was without comparison, and the band spent the majority of the decade releasing album after album of their feedback drenched manifesto’s of hate, culminating with 2000’s Confederacy of Ruined Lives. Since that album, Eyehategod has fluttered in and out of activity but never long enough to record any new material, so it was with great surprise when the band announced a new, self-titled LP earlier this year.
Yet questions remained. It had been fourteen years since the groups last album and in spite of the numerous side projects of EHG members (Down, Superjoint Ritual, Corrections House, etc.) it would be completely reasonable to question whether or not the magic of the Eyehategod collective still existed. Did the time apart, projects with other bands and multiple personal tragedies (RIP Joey LaCaze) dull the razor sharp edge of NOLA’s finest?
Simply put, no. Fuck no. “Agitation! Propaganda!” kicks off the album with the bands prototypical wall of feedback before launching into a two-and-a-half minute blast of punk-tinged rage.The breakneck pace doesn’t last long though as the band settles deep into a southern sludge groove on “Trying to Crack the Hard Dollar,” a pace that continues throughout the better part of the record and closely resembles (stylistically at least) the bands 1996 masterpiece Dopesick. A highlight of this section of Eyehategod is “Worthless Rescue,” a deep-fried riff fest courtesy of Jimmy Bower and Brian Patton that’s sure to get even the most contemplative listener moving.
Later in the record, “Framed to the Wall” picks up the frenetic pacing of the album opener and slaps anyone across the face that got lost in the murky swamp of meaty riffs that came before. It’s an immediate reminder that Eyehategod, although fairly inactive for sometime, are still one of, if not the most imposing yet important southern metal bands on the scene today. This point is hammered home with authority on the seven minute long epic “Flags and Cities Bound.” The song is a true amalgamation of everything that came before it, both in the Eyehategod catalog and in the members’ other projects as well. It features a southern swagger that would sound right at home on a Down record, but also showcases Mike IX’s proclivity for spoken word and soundscape textures, not unlike his work with Corrections House. It’s an eye-opening moment on an album that’s thoroughly saturated with satisfying power.
Most bands couldn’t survive half the shit that Eyehategod have seen throughout their career. Hell, most other bands couldn’t take well over a decade off from recording and return with an album that fits seamlessly into their devastatingly strong discography. But Eyehategod isn’t like most other bands. Sure, they’ve got the same basic elements of others, but they’ve got a persistence and tenacity as a group that’s matched by none other. Considering that the biggest change in the band’s sound on the new record is the production value (which is amazing), Eyehategod is an amazing new chapter from some of New Orleans finest.