Friday, August 31, 2012

Ty Segall's Slaughterhouse slays with grimy punk/indie fuzz rock

Ex-Epsilons vocalist Ty Segall was apparently born in the wrong era. With hazy, washed out guitar and psychedelic keyboard, he would fit right in alongside the garage rockers of the 1960s. But he'll be damned if he's gonna let a calendar hold him back. As if trying to make up for lost time, Segall is pumping out albums like no tomorrow.  Slaughterhouse, the second of three albums he's putting out in 2012, will appeal most to anyone who's a fan of abrasive, messy, noisy sludge rock.

The opener, "Death," gives a great idea of what to expect. The opening notes are drowned in squealing feedback before leading into a verse primed to blow like a powder keg. It ultimately erupts into a fuzzy distorted blend of rock that is vitriolic while maintaining a sense of melody. The Stooges and Melvins may be the chief influences here, but melodicism is Slaughterhouse's key ingredient. "I Bought My Eyes" is a winner thanks to its hard driving rhythms and folky introspective lyrics, while "Show Me What's Inside Your Heart" wipes away a bit of the grime but never sacrifices speed or energy.

Of course, there are plenty of wailing like a banshee moments; the title track is a visceral hard edge punk song that conjures grease sliding down the walls of a seedy club type vibe. "The Tongue" opens with an extended surf guitar riff which recalls the styling of Dead Kennedy's guitarist East Bay Ray, while the lurching, Sabbathy "Wave Goodbye" features reverb coated vocals that gives off a slight stoner rock feel. It leads into a riff that resembles Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic" before ending in an extended solo even Tony Iommi would have to respect.

The album's second half tends to whizz by, as few of those songs crack the three minute mark. They are still notable for their sense of groove and passion. The highlight would perhaps be "Diddy Wah," a sped up and punkified cover of an old Bo Diddley song on which Segall sounds like he's spewing up battery acid.

Two thumbs down, however, for the closer "Fuzz War," which is 10+ minutes of nothing but guitar feedback. It serves no purpose but to pad the length of the album. So the 39 minute run time is a bit misleading; minus the closer, Slaughterhouse is about as long as one of those old school Bad Religion albums. It also takes the album from being an EP to full album length. Segall is a shrewd businessman, eh?

Compared to his previous works, Slaughterhouse is much meaner, faster, heavier, and louder while still pulling  from the great musical traditions which have defined Segall's sound. The fact that the album was recorded with his full touring band contributes to the beefiness of the sound. So forget about trying to work out the lyrics, this is wild raging music hell bent on inspiring your next hangover. And isn't that half the fun?

Score: 89/100

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