Our Bellies Sluggish With Goat Meat
posted on 4/2008 By:
Mostly sludge, with the requisite dashes of ‘core, Vancouver’s El Cerdo begins the record Mastodon-like, driving and hardcore-laced and noisy, and ends up a step closer to Neur-Isis post-sludge. (For the benefit of the English-only monolinguals, “El Cerdo” is Spanish for “the cerdo.”) They’re certainly worthy of some attention but, like countless other bands, they’re floating in the sea of similar-sounding collectives and only stand out if you’re really looking for them. In every capacity, they’re guilty not of incompetence but of unoriginality, falling in the dreaded middle ground where there’s nothing bad to say, aside from the “guilty of unoriginality” thing, but there’s also nothing particularly compelling enough to make this review worth reading or writing. When all is screamed and done, El Cerdo sound too much like too many other, better bands to truly make an impact. But Our Bellies is their first full-length effort, so there’s time, and where there’s time, maybe there’s hope for bigger things…
After the feedback-laden intro “Pigs,” the angular “Gravity Is A Harsh Mistress” kicks in with a noise-rock styled riff. At that point, the Mastodon tendencies are in full force, although El Cerdo lacks that band’s staggering instrumental chops. The follow-up track treads similar ground, and the grinding one-two of “Germ Welfare,” with its staccato and dissonant riffing, and “Front Toward Enemy” is the album’s highest point, a combination of the two most chaotic moments on hand, and the final two before an atmospheric aesthetic appears, tempering the noisiness with moments of Pelican-like graceful heaviness. Despite a general weariness towards the Neurisistodon type of metal these days, I find myself still enjoying the more post-metal tracks on Our Bellies, which is to say “the latter half of the record,” but I’m aware that I’m probably enjoying them for the wrong reason. The cinematic quality of doomy post-metal actually helps the somewhat pedestrian song-craft—once the dreamy groove kicks in, I find myself drifting along in the vibe, not paying as much attention to the fact that I’ve heard this before. Everything here, from the crashing agonized downbeats of “Trials” to the spacey clean-guitar riff to “Dual Wield The Needler” blends all the lynchpins of post-metal into one giant pot of borrowed ideas.
My advice to El Cerdo, which they can take or leave entirely, would be to focus a bit more on pushing the boundaries. Mostly, this seems undecided about whether to be Mastodon or Neurosis (with dashes of Buzzov-en, Soilent Green, Rwake, et al), and falls short of being “the combination of Mastodon plus Neurosis plus Buzzov-en.” It’s more a list of its parts than the sum of them. Undoubtedly such directional decisions will fall into place over time, and this is a young band with a (possibly) brighter future, but Our Bellies is only “whelming,” but neither “under-“ nor “over-“ that.
Register to post comments.