Judas Goats & Dieseleaters
posted on 11/2005 By:
It’s a good thing that Church of Misery and Ed Gein have a genre gap and the Pacific ocean between them, ‘cause the Japanese doom legends might be getting pissed that these dudes are getting big enough to put a dent in their serial killer monopoly. The boys from Syracuse have returned with their second full-length of modernist tech-grind-core-whatever, and to nobody’s surprise they’re still bludgeoning away with an arsenal of speed, discordance, wacko timing, and a triple-headed vocal attack. Judas Goats and Dieseleaters is very much the prototypical Black Market Activities album; it’s technical, chaotic, and numbingly intense. Ed Gein’s relentless fury produces countless moments of neck-strain-inducing power, but brings with it all of the problems that are endemic to their little subniche in metal.
Landing squarely in the thunderously complex style of metal first pioneered by the godly Burnt By the Sun and later popularized by The Red Chord and Premonitions of War, this release sees Ed Gein thrash and lurch their way through thirteen primarily sub-three-minute explosions of atonal chord beatdowns and cramped scales. If nothing else, these three guys play some undeniably heavy music; Judas Goats and Dieseleaters pours forth from the speakers like a torrent of airborne cinder blocks, and it makes for a viscerally satisfying experience even on early listens. The band’s preferred tempo, surprisingly, isn’t the standard blastbeat. Instead, they seem to prefer a flailing, 200-beat-per-minute sprint that staggers and tumbles about rather than maintaining constant for any real length of time. To their credit, Ed Gein have done a solid job of actually employing a broad variety of tempos here, and the slowdowns allow guitarist Graham to crank out the occasional monstrous riff, like the conclusion of “Pee Wee Herman/Paul Reubens” and especially the Gorguts-inspired trudge of instrumental “United Ninety Three.”
It’s not all flowers and sunshine for these guys, though. Allow me to elaborate upon my earlier cinder block simile for a moment. Yeah, there are big weighty objects zipping past your head consistently for this album’s thirty-minute (excluding the irritating noise filler at the end) running time, but it won’t take you long to notice that they’re more or less all the same weighty object: bleak and angular, but featurelessly grey all the same. The vast bulk of Judas Goats and Dieseleaters will go in one ear and out the other without leaving any particular mental residue, and that becomes a serious problem. The band’s vocal performance doesn’t help matters much. Sure, all three band members sing, but their voices are virtually indistinguishable from each other and there aren’t any distinct vocal rhythms to speak of. Their lacking presence in the mix completes the afterthought-ish impression, but fortunately serves to obscure much of the band’s irritatingly ham-fisted political message.
I actually had the unexpected privilege of seeing Ed Gein live recently, and in many ways their performance reflected this album. The band was flawlessly tight, concentrated, and extremely loud, but were ultimately overshadowed by peers with more personality and musical gravitas than they. Judas Goats and Dieseleaters will leave listeners bruised and scraped, but unfortunately won’t leave much more than a superficial scratch in their memories.
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