posted on 2/2011 By:
Despite not being a huge fan of sludgy doom metal, something about Weedeater has always been peculiarly endearing to me. Maybe its the sense of humor that comes through in their performances or the amusing personas of the band members themselves, but I find that Weedeater’s music possesses a character and personality that appeals to me a lot more than the product of the hordes of drugged-out misanthropes that constitute most of the sludge scene. (Not to say that description doesn’t fit the members of Weedeater, but they aren’t as painfully obvious about it.)
Of course, the fact that they have a knack for constructing some absolutely MASSIVE riffs and grooves doesn’t hurt their cause either. Weedeater’s tunes may not be brimming with originality or complexity, but goddamn these guys can pen a satisfying sludge lick, whether it be slow and burly or quicker in pace. The band’s fourth album of boneheaded, bong-toking metal, Jason… The Dragon doesn’t really strive for anything you haven’t heard on Weedeater’s previous albums, but it’s another rock-solid and perfectly produced slab of the project's expected bread and cannabutter, and it should put a smile on the face of fans in spite of some questionable decisions made in terms of its overall pacing and structure.
I suppose the biggest sticking point for most regarding Weedeater is the vocals; Dixie Dave is the epitome of the “stick one of the band members in front of the mic and have him holler or something” ethos that seems to affect so many sludge bands out there today. While I acknowledge that Dave’s hoarse screams are pretty weak and inconsequential to the music as a whole, they’ve never detracted from my enjoyment of it. This outfit is all about riffs and colossal sound, and to that end, Jason… The Dragon is just as rippin' as its predecessors. The bass tone is simply crushing, and the overall sonic wallop packed here is enough to give you goosebumps when turned up to an appropriate volume level. While the actual riffs are pretty straightforward even for sludge standards, the band makes up for their lack of ingenuity with delivery and style. The twosome of “Hammerhandle” and “Mancoon” makes for a hell of a start to the album, the former ushering things in with a pair of lumbering grooves, the latter picking up the tempo in the vein of “Wizard Fight” or “Hungry Jack” with brutal results. Elsewhere, things branch off into some epic down-tempo territory in the mammoth title track, and the trio even throws in a surprisingly sunny Torche-style lick in “Homecoming.”
Considering the simplistic nature of the music, the modest running time of the tracks and album as a whole (around thirty-four minutes) is more than adequate for the style that Weedeater deals in, but this brings me to my one significant complaint with this album: there’s not nearly enough metal here. Only six out of the ten tracks on Jason… The Dragon are proper Weedeater songs, with the remaining third of the record being comprised of acoustic interludes and a short drum solo. While the peaceful, hazy-eyed strumming of “Palms of Opium” and “Whiskey Creek” are enjoyable in their own right, I turn to Weedeater for loud, heavy-as fuck riffs and drums, not this… “quiet” business. I wouldn’t mind it as much if the album wasn’t already a short ride and if the metal that is here wasn’t so cool, but considering that’s its been four years since the band’s last release the lack of substantial material is a pretty hard pill to swallow. I think they would have been better off cutting the interludes and just releasing Jason as an EP; at least then the metal tracks would have more room to breathe and we would have been better prepared for a smaller helping of the heavy stuff.
Despite the disappointing lack of meat in Weedeater’s latest, Jason is still one of the more purely entertaining albums I’ve heard so far in this young year, and fans of the band will love it regardless of the fact that the boys didn’t exactly bust their asses following such a long break between albums. If you’re a distortion addict looking for your next fix, Jason… The Dragon should hit the spot nicely -- just don’t expect an especially lengthy or satisfying buzz this time around.
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