At this point in their career, North Carolina sludge/doom trio Weedeater has a reputation that precedes them. Bassist/vocalist “Dixie” Dave Collins is a former member of sludge legends Buzzov*en, and such a pedigree has been valuable in forging the reputation of Weedeater over the past two decades. Weedeater is one of the true originals in American sludge metal: The bluesy, loose vibes of early Black Sabbath combine with the darkness of doom metal, the fury of early hardcore, and occasional forays into psychedelic territory to form a sound that is just as visceral as it is loose. Add that to obvious homage to a certain green plant and fuzzed-out guitars, and that pretty much sums up Weedeater. They’ve been cranking out consistently entertaining albums for nearly 20 years now, and Goliathan does little to change the formula they’ve established.
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The newest effort Goliathan starts with one of the album’s biggest curveballs, “Processional.” As opposed to guitar feedback or distorted riffs, we’re greeted with bubbly organs and bluesy clean guitars. It’s like you stumbled into your Papaw’s Southern Baptist church at the end of the altar call while experiencing the worst hangover of your life. But then Dixie’s vocals – a gravelly, whiskey-soaked whisper – come in with the cheerful proclamation, “I really hate your face/ I hate the things you do/ I know you don’t like me/ I’m comin’ after you.” Weedeater have always had their tongues firmly planted in cheek, and the opener is no exception. Soon, though, the band gets to business with the title track’s dark, crushing riffs, the guitars and bass so distorted that they’re basically a square wave. Dixie’s bass drives the band forward as his hoarse, raspy scream cuts through the bottom-heavy mix. This track goes straight into “Cain Enabler,” which swings along with classic Southern-fried riffs that are closer to heavy blues than sludge metal proper. It works, though, as it’s one of the album’s most entertaining and accessible cuts.
“Battered & Fried” is Goliathan’s other major curveball: A banjo and harmonica twang along as Dixie’s hoarse vocals propel a narrative of conflict and frustration. Lest we forget this is a sludge album, “Claw of the Sloth,” the album’s strongest cut, swells in and pummels listeners with its unhinged drums and catchy main riffs. The album finishes out with several shorter cuts that show more of the band’s punk/hardcore roots while being filtered through a thick, fuzzy guitar tone. Billy Anderson’s excellent production job gives Goliathan a warm and punchy but clear presentation with the rhythm section being the driving force.
For fans of the old-school sludge sound that doesn’t mess around with artsy “post” crap, or if you just need a soundtrack while shootin’ at beer cans with Papaw’s sawed-off shotgun, Goliathan will be right up your alley. Weedeater have no great surprises here, and frankly, that’s okay. Guys like them don’t need any frills or gimmicks.
Goliathan is now available through Season of Mist on CD, vinyl, digital download, and cassette. Check it out here.
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