Slights And Abuse / The Sycophant
posted on 3/2008 By:
Teacher: "The top end of a straight ladder is leaning against the vertical side of a building, with its lower end positioned on a horizontal sidewalk. The upper end of the ladder appears to be slipping down the wall at a constant rate of 2 cm/second, meaning the lower end is slowly sliding across the sidewalk as well. If the ladder is 29 feet long, how fast is the lower end moving when the upper end is 20 feet above the ground?"
Me: "Hmmmm. Okay. Well, we obviously want to approach this problem as if it were a right angle triangle with.......LOOK OVER THERE!! A monkey wearing a monocle!!!"
*bolts out of classroom in a cloud of papers*
Chicago's Indian delivers music that, much like those daunting word problems of yore, leaves me quizzically scratching my head with crooked-eyebrow. And it vexes me, people, because I've seen this band lauded by listeners and webzines across the internet. Seems like a mess of folks dug 2005's The Unquiet Sky, and the preliminary reports on this release (which takes two shorter vinyl releases from Seventh Rule Records and puts them on one disc) seem pretty positive as well. So, what the hell am I missing?
And no, this isn't a case where a reviewer dips his piddies into an unfamiliar pool. I dig the sludge, friends, and that's exactly what Indian's stepping up to the plate to deliver. But my allegiance lies closer to the crusty-metallier end of the spectrum, like Graves at Sea (R.I.P.) and Zoroaster. To me, Indian sound as if they arrived at sludge via a more punk-indie-core kinda route. That's not meant to be a jab, mind you, but I wish bands of this ilk would sit down and really study the hell out of a release like Karp's most Holy self-titled record as a prime example on "How To Inject A Much Needed Dose of Flair and Vitality to Your Sludge." (enter Murderface: "Needsh a little more shZAZZsh.")
But I'll give these guys credit where credit's due. Both Slights and Abuse (tracks 1-4) and Sycophant (tracks 5-9) mix things up more when compared to 2005's The Unquiet Sky, the most notable difference being speed; the first three tracks on this release rip outta the gates fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the muddy mix and familiar "mowed over by a tractor" guitar tone carried over from The Unquiet Sky end up making much of the faster riffing sound fairly marshy, like mumbled humming from a huge, hairy troll. Slights closes out with the painfully long "Fatal Lack", which finds the band slooooowing-thingsssss-dowwwwn for fif-teeeeen minutes with-a-song missssssing at-mosphere and-it doesn't seeeeem to-go anywhe...zzzzzzzzzz, WHOOPS! Sycophant's kicking in! The band's latest material finds them actually cleaning up the guitar tone a bit, which makes a quicker tune like "Lust" go down a bit easier with its slightly lighter air. But the doldrums quickly resurface as the last four tunes fail to kick up anything truly spicy or juicy enough to sink your teeth into, especially the terribly repetitive "Pigs In Your Open Wound".
Pass me the asshole hat folks, I'm declaring myself "the guy who just doesn't fucking get it". Even with O'Toole's throat scraping vocals and the new focus on speed, I still can't find much on Slights and Abuse/Sycophant to peel my face off. Hell, even the added measures of electronic warbling and scant piano can't save this material for me. Then again, I could just be the wrong guy at the wrong place at the wrong time, much like those math classes back in High School. I'd say If you're a fan of all that's sludgy, slink on over to the band's website or Myspace to give them a fair shake.
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