Monday, August 27, 2012

Yellowtooth - Disgust (2012)

While I can't vouch that the band has adopted the most unique style in the history of sludge and doom, Indiana's Yellowtooth truly knows how to kick off an album with a mix of hilarity and crushing riffs that smash you mightily on the jaw, extracting the two teeth that they've placed in their logo. A relatively new band with a few demos to their name prior to this debut full-length, the ranks here nonetheless boast a number of old schoolers, most notably bassist/vocalist Peter Clemens who you've possibly heard in some other US acts like Invasion, Skullview and Nocturnal Torment. Stylistically and thematically, though, this is a pretty far cry from those other projects, more of a crude knuckle sandwich of beer swigging, bong hitting brutality borne of a simpler, stoner rock foundation.

Once the opening sample cedes to the massive, lumbering riffs of "Wizard Dust" you get a nice taste of the band's straight forward songwriting. The guitar patterns have a bit of an old school 70s rock feel to them, maybe something like Down or Black Label Society might pen, albeit more swollen and sinister in both intent and doomed delivery. The molasses-thick bass is just as prevalent as the guitar, both so enormous that at times they seem to almost drown a few of the drums, but what I found most impressive here was the use of the more filtered, gruff death metal style vocals. When the Neanderthal inflection collides with the weight of those chugging or grooving rhythms, it's like some unholy union of old Godflesh with the Black Keys, perhaps the most innovative component of this entire disc. They seem to draw more on the death metal influences of some of his other works, or perhaps their death & roll forebears like Entombed, than the nihilistic rasping or agony you'd expect out of a group like Bongzilla or Eyehategod, but the results are just as heavy.

A lot of the riff progressions remind one of usual suspects like Sabbath, Cathedral, Orange Goblin, or Trouble, often pretty minimalistic and predictable, but there's enough of a wailing verve and bluesy authenticity to them that the listener's still going to be slowly banging his head through "John Wilkes Booth" or "Prophetic Ramblings". Even though most of the 4-5 minute tunes only have a few dominant riffs, they are spun out with enough variation that they never feel tired or repetitious. Grueling, slower paced sequences are set against the more up-tempo barroom bravado, and Disgust feels pretty fresh and developed overall, though there are a handful of throwaway riffs. The raucous mix of the album is heavily guitar-oriented, and I wouldn't have minded a bit more cranking on the drums to balance it out. Also, the vocals, while themselves adequately churning and aggressive, would not suffer from more of a dynamic range. Otherwise, Yellowtooth has itself a decently fun debut here. The trio is well aware of its parameters, functions effectively within them, and has fun doing so. More than a few black eyes are just waiting to happen to this album.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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