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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Album Review: Skrogg - "Raw Heat"

We've just passed the winter solstice and I'm hoping against hope that Santa soon leaves me a bottle of Buffalo Trace under the tree. If he doesn't, I'll just crank Skrogg's Raw Heat and sweat 'til I stink. The EP gives listeners five chances to sneak out of that lame-ass Christmas gathering to steal your neighbor's car, trash a hotel room, or just spill double-fisted libations all over the shag carpeting you can't stand anyway. You don't want your kids to see you listening to Skrogg.

Straight outta hell by way of New Hampshire, this doomy-blues trio has a sound that's thickly bearded, whiskey-soaked, and strangely southern. A bouncy bass gurgle guides Cajun Lady from one end of the bar to the next, flirting with sludgy plod and slow-rolling singalongs until The Reverend's guitar discharges sticky brilliance. Thick, hot, and perfectly uncomfortable. Watch your step.

The stripped-down, honest, and boner-driven Anita Ride has the feel of a throwback homage to Skrogg's 70's influences, though it's heavier, fuzzier, and a little spooky. A psychedelic warble is perhaps the track's defining trait, but sun-caked riffs and a slow tempo keep us from wandering into traffic. And you've recognized the sophomoric humor, no doubt. But it does nothing to detract from this crusty hitchhiker anthem.

Raw Heat's title track keeps things hazy as a smoke-filled garage. Slow, drawn-out, and dirty as things can get, lyrics like "smooth as molasses and sweet as candy rain" evoke visions of fat, naked bikers fuckin' in the woods. Felix's thunderous drums blend with Jasper's sex-lube funk in perfect rhythm, punctuated by riffs doused in napalm. Rolling out on a cherry ashtray, lint-pickin' buzz, this is the album's best seven minutes.

Picking up tempos with a highway bass roll, Cosmonaut's entire sound is low, wide, and viscous. Guitars manage to soar as the loose, bouncy low-end does its best to drag them into the cornfield. Cops show up just as you think the track is ending, leaving you and your buddies no choice but to swallow your stash, squeeze into the back of a pickup, and try to remember the names of the topless bar whores sitting next to you. The next time you run into Skrogg, remember to thank them for the brilliant thirty seconds that carry out Cosmonaut.

Skrogg get heaviest on Evil Eye, beginning with a morbid, warbling black-metal gurgle. Vocals drift and encompass listeners, but it's hard to notice. The muddy, shit-caked stomp shares the marquee with pore-penetrating solos. Wavering groove knocks us back thirty-five years and The Reverend complacently reminds us "You can't take nothin' when you die." Grinding out the last minutes of an all too short EP, this final track trudges and buzzes nearly as much as your head.

Skrogg have clearly spent some time on the road, and they've certainly enjoyed a lifestyle of equal parts Sabbath, Deep Purple, Schlitz, and Jim Beam. Raw Heat's marriage of grit and gravel makes for the perfect road trip soundtrack, and the cock-butter glaze of these five songs is enough to make you clutch your girlfriend's waist a little tighter. Maybe this is something you and your old man can finally agree on. And maybe this is why your mother says shit like "Y'know, I'm kinda worried about you."


ComScore

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