Paegan Terrorism Tactics (Reissue)
posted on 10/2010 By:
Pages have been written about the Nola scene throughout the years: how its sludgy misanthropy captures the gritty essence of its hometown in filth-encrusted fashion; how its drug-addled violence and blues-tinted roots sum up the seedy side of Southern sickness; how its fatalistic, nihilistic and often just plain ballistic fury is the product of a city of the doomed and the damned…
In listening back now, Nola frontrunner Acid Bath acts as something of an amalgamation of the scene and the city that spawned them. Contained within their two records, which stand alongside a posthumous demo compilation as the only products of a career cut tragically short, are all the hallmarks of Nola metal and, by extrapolation, largely of New Orleans herself. Now I’ve never visited the Big Easy, I admit, but I’m certain that there’s something more to New Orleans than grime-caked madness; it can’t be all junkie slime, homicidal rage and suicidal self-loathing. Sure, there’s violence and filth and decay—in what city is there not? But from what I’ve seen and read, there’s also a definite beauty interwoven with gothic darkness and a certain sinister and human sense of humor. And beside the requisite sludge, both of those qualities are present in spades on both Paegan Terrorism Tactics and its predecessor When The Kite String Pops.
Acid Bath’s triumphs were two-fold: one, they possessed a singer with greater emotional and melodic range than most of their peers, and two, their creative scope encompassed a wider array of influence and inspiration than solely the scum-level set. While Falgoust (Soilent Green / Goatwhore) remains a better harsh vocalist and while Williams (Eyehategod / Arson Anthem / Outlaw Order) offered some singularly hideous beauty within his tortured screams, neither could compete with Dax Riggs in terms of emotion beyond sheer aggression. Riggs’ clean baritone croon offered up a cold darkness all its own, as expressive and menacing as any tar-caked retching, as adept at grunge melody as extreme metal. (Of all the prominent Nola vocalists, only Anselmo's variety and range rivals Riggs'.) And whereas Crowbar relied upon ten-ton heaviness and Eyehategod upon smack- and blues-addled violence and Down upon 70s-rock redux, Acid Bath borrowed from all those influences and added that gothic-doom and grunge to the mix. Paegan’s best-known track “Graveflower” holds up as well today as it did fourteen years ago, all surface misery and subtle menace. Hold that track against the screaming violence of “Locust Spawning” and the drifting acoustic semi-dirge of “Dead Girl” and, in three very different and yet immensely cohesive tracks, the Acid Bath approach is crystallized.
And now, Rotten Records has seen fit to reissue Paegan Terrorism Tactics, remastered for the new millennium. Whereas the original Paegan was softer and muddier, this new master is crisper, brighter, louder, and that change is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the cleaner sound lends a colder, harder edge to the gothic elements at play, and on the other hand, sludge wasn’t particularly meant to be clean. As I listen to the two versions, I find myself leaning more and more towards the new, despite the lessening of the filthy muddy tones, and I do so solely because its that bleak doomed sadness, the first part of Acid Bath’s whisper-to-a-scream that attracted me to them in the first place. The new master may not sit well with longtime fans, but it’s a clear-cut improvement in certain respects, and either way, its certainly commendable that such a classic is once again readily available.
And that’s the important part of all of this: in either incarnation, Paegan Terrorism Tactics is a grimy diamond in the mire, an album as beautiful as it is bludgeoning, and absolutely one that should be in your collection.
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