posted on 4/2007 By:
I’m beginning to think that the Commonwealth of Virginia is underrated as a breeding ground for metal. The state’s already produced bands like Pig Destroyer and late greats Swarm of the Lotus as well as a healthy death metal scene, and now newcomers VOG are showing a great deal of (admittedly niche) potential. Their self-titled debut is a sprawling mass of drugged-out, sludge-slinging doom/noise that could well have been a great album with some songwriting and production adjustments.
I’m admittedly a sucker for this kind of music, and this hits the spot for me after a month of reviewing tidy, melodic metal albums. VOG write six to fourteen-minute sludge epics that jump from brooding psychedelica to snarling quasi-bluesy guitar stomps to balls out crusty hardcore at will. Early-period Neurosis (through Souls at Zero) comes most immediately to mind, though there’s a healthy dose of Eyehategod or Acid Bath’s abusive Southern attitude present as well. Topping off the corrosive instrumentals is a singer with serious crushes on both Steve Austin (Today Is the Day) and Dax Riggs (Acid Bath), who employs a broad arsenal of layered, distorted growls and shrieks as well as some unearthly clean singing to lend to the air of acid-dosed psychosis. The band also engages in some straight up noise freakouts, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Finally, the sheen of stoner rock effects and spacey sounds layered over the whole mess lends an air of cosmic importance to the otherwise earthy music. The aggregate effect is a feedback-spewing monster of a sound that will inevitably drive away a good two thirds of its listeners instantly and painfully draw in the rest.
As musically potent as they are, VOG don’t always realize their potential with their songwriting. Though from part to part the disc is awesome, VOG’s tendency to rely on ponderously long songs cripples their effectiveness. Bloated tracks like “Transcending the Bullshit” and closer “Whatever Works” could easily be trimmed by five or six minutes, and in the process hold the listener’s attention far less tentatively. VOG could also have benefited from a louder, more booming production, especially considering their heavy reliance on suffocating grooves. If this band manages to rectify these problems, they could make some serious waves in the sludge/doom scene.
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