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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Sludge: All Hail The Yeti

Some of us don't have a way out. Whether it's lack of talent, lack of ambition, or a debilitating birth defect, some lives are pushed into a Volvo, a suit, and a plastic perma-smile that come with the sting and the stain of getting comfortable with the mundane. Like mental patients who don't realize they're mental, a gleeful plug through life with all the trimmings is where some people inadvertently wind up.

There are those, however, who claw at a means of escape and discover the trail of sweat and shit they've left behind has bred their ascent. Los Angeles-based All Hail The Yeti have managed to crack expectations and trends, crafting a sound more consistent with misty bogs than smoggy dreams. With an ever-expanding fan base and a reputation for wet and wild live performances, it's safe to say there's been more than a few whispers about the band's self-title debut, due August 28th (US).

If the disc's starter is any indication of what the rest of the album promises, listeners can sling this one over their backs and let it set up camp. The immediate attack of Deep Creek's double kick-drums and buzzing riffs hits straight in the sternum. Slung low and dragged through the murk, the filthy uptempo groove remains thick and sticky while Connor Garritty's layered vocal scratch-and-claw pierces membranes. This relentlessly brutal grime assault is not to be taken lightly.

Characterized by a meld of groove and vitriol, the album contains elements of sludge, stoner metal, murder metal, and thrash. The compliance commanded by Bloodguilt yanks the sludge rhythm from its chair through punishing tempos and embattled vocals. Drawing blood with broken nails, Craw NeQuent's riffs punctuate a murky landscape and, at times, echo the slice and pullback of trademark Dimebag. A boiled-down sludge plod on Ruby Ridge (Every Knee Shall Bow) is loaded with static. The push-pull rhythm slugs at your temple and greets your bare, blistered hands with a hot weapon.The sludge grind canvased under the sound is blended with hardcore influences for a fresh sound that will appeal to many.

Employing audio clips from Session 9, The Weak and Wounded (Prelude to Flames) is the creepiest thing you'll hear today. Loaded with atmosphere, it's the perfect lead-in to After the Great Fire. Slow, trippy, and tight with focus, the near-grieving choir would create an almost anthemic tone were it not for the creep-factor salvation. Vocals growl and croon, guitars wax and wane, and a sludgy crunch demonstrate the band's prowess and limitless ability.

We all love a swampy-bayou sludge smear. The snapping twigs, chirping crickets, and southern front-porch croon of The Art of Mourning cedes to the Jekyll and Hyde grind, which challenges for the title of best track on the album. Listeners are blissfully torn on who to follow, while harmonic relent is greeted with a machine gun retribution. Let's just call this one a near-tutorial on backwoods resolve.

Buzzing stoner tempo clings to the back of a rusty Ford on I Am Wendigod, dominated by riffs and an echo-vocal extension. Burning your face on the carpet, this is the disc's most accomplished demonstration of structuring an entire track around groove. And speaking of buzz, Axe Murder Hollow flits and shits like flaming gnats. At the onset, there's a slow pluck forming a fuzzy canvas of despair. Nicholas Diltz allows for a choppy stoner-sludge bass drawl peppered with Skylar Feigel's kick-drum bloodletting. All Hail The Yeti spit and stomp with Copenhagen confidence and Busch Light bravado, chugging and churning through sticky, heady Louisiana cotton fields.

When the Sky Falls buzzes steadily under Garritty's channeling of Mike Muir, though the vocal tandem reveals a fresh haunt. Suicide Woods, loaded with fuzzy groove, is steady with thumping twists and crunchy, lumbering riffage. And the funeral caravan of descending moods on Judas Cradle swarms with the simmer of late night terror. Swaying with gravity, this closer pulls in a multitude of directions, breaks into a misty whisper of cymbals, and ultimately leaves our bodies in a grove of wooded serenity.

All Hail The Yeti manage to separate themselves from a sea of sludge metal, stoner metal, and hardcore bands who are big on hope and short on ability. Every element here is not only relevant, but essential. The sound owes its debts to identifiable influences, though it's safe to say nobody has sounded quite like this. Malevolence is rarely met with this much groove, while the sludge is never laid too thick. The songs are well-structured and well-realized, with not one single track serving as filler. Put this one on your radar. These guys saved themselves from Hollywood. Maybe they'll save the rest of us, too.

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