Eyehategod Give Their Sloppy Sludge a Squeaky Clean Makeover on 'A History of Nomadic Behavior'
Published Mar 10, 2021New Orleans misanthropes Eyehategod have passed the 30-year milestone of making the most deranged and influential doom metal, though it has come with a cost. Founding drummer Joey LaCaze passed away in 2013, and longtime lead guitarist Brian Patton stepped away from the band in 2018. After decades of hard living, vocalist and acid-tongued frontman Mike IX Williams suffered liver failure and underwent a transplant. Drummer Aaron Hill and bassist Gary Mader (Outlaw Order, Hawg Jaw) round out the current line-up and strengthen these quinquagenarians to an incredible degree, as heard on their previous album, 2014's self-titled masterstroke.
At first listen, their sixth full-length, A History of Nomadic Behavior, is difficult to swallow, as it jumps the rails a bit into new territory for the veteran band. "Built Beneath the Lies" is the ideal cross-section of what makes Eyehategod a perennial favourite amongst sludge fans, though even this brawny album opener has some chords in its midsection that sound almost happy. The buoyant nature of "The Trial of Johnny Cancer" resembles Clutch writing a Fluf-like pop-punk anthem. The weird near-jazz of "Smoker's Place" could be the soundtrack for a brief scene of redemption in an otherwise hopeless B-movie.
The rest of the album, however, is the signature sludge that the band has been slinging for an entire generation. "Fake What's Yours" sports guitarist Jimmy Bower's usual chromatic-staircase riffs, and "The Outer Banks" double-times the pace, as if doing donuts in a stolen car in the parking lot of a looted pharmacy. By the time "High Risk Trigger" emerges from the feedback haze of "Current Situation," amid the classic riffs (surely lifted from 1993's Take as Needed for Pain) and slo-mo blastbeats, Williams' expertly tortured vocals show slightly less anguish as in previous years.
Overall, the album's production is too polished, which somewhat contradicts the band's filth-caked persona. Instead of their lovable, sloppy sludge with festering warts and all, Nomadic Behavior is squeaky clean and coherent, with a surgical gravity to each and every downtuned chord. Using a Star Wars analogy, if 2014's Eyehategod comeback album is The Force Awakens, then A History of Nomadic Behavior is The Last Jedi: it contains enough traditional elements to appease the older fans and delight the newer ones, yet its sonic oddities remain to confound the chaos. (Century Media)