Release Date: 12th March 2021
Label: Century Media Records
For Fans Of: Crowbar, Corrosion Of Conformity, Down
Originally considered too metal for punks and too punk for metalheads, no-one really got what Eyehategod were doing originally and it’s fair to say they’ve been through a lot in their storied career. Forming in 1988, the band have released five albums to date, most recently 2014’s self-titled record that came after a fourteen year wait and further solidified their status as legends of the scene they helped pioneer.
The band have battled addictions, jail time, Hurricane Katrina and the death of original sticksman Joey LaCaze in 2013, all of which have only served to steel their resolve and fuel the nihilistic, downtrodden sludgy racket they’ve made since debut album In the Name of Suffering. Now seven years since their last record, Eyehategod are back with A History of Nomadic Behaviour which – spoiler – continues to plumb the depths of despair with bluesy Sabbathian riffs and does so with aplomb.
Opening with squalling feedback, lurching riffs and off-kilter drumming, ‘Built Beneath the Lies’ is all punk snarl for its first minute before the tempo drops and we’re treated to Eyehategod at their dirgey best. A giant bluesy riff paired with Mike IX Williams’ pained howl before returning to its original lumbering pace. His gutter poetry lyricism is as cutting as ever such as the lines “Execute this drug warrant / Nobody’s war, cold blooded war / Another mouth to shut / We never understand”. In a slightly different vein, second track ‘The Outer Banks’ initially trades in more obtuse imagery and while it opens slowly as expected, its second half accelerates to a breakneck pace to hammer its point home.
There’s a constant sense of unease that runs throughout. This isn’t meant to be something that makes you feel good about yourself: It’s painful, pointing out social ills and exorcising personal demons that don’t want to be excised. That also manifests as a sense that things could go off the rails at any given moment; songs are constructed loosely and lumber between mammoth grooves and occasionally collapse into squalls of feedback such as the close of ‘Anemic Robotic’ and the chugging opener to ‘The Day Felt Wrong’. The band close with ‘Every Thing, Every Day’, a song that utilises lyrical and riff repetition that makes it feel like things are truly pointless and nothing gets better (“Wake up every day / Go to work, go to school / Wake up at 6am / Every day / Wake up at 5am / Every day / Every thing”). It illustrates the monotony of modern life and closes with a spoken word sample of the fear of sleep, the speaker discussing the contradiction of being afraid to both go to sleep as well as losing sleep.
What Eyehategod have always done well is channeling the painful world they experience and observe around them into a nihilistic, cathartic experience where there’s not meant to be any answers, just a frank, nihilistic discussion of pain and antisociality. As with its predecessor, A History of Nomadic Behaviour attempts to purge this negativity, acting as an outlet for their vices and pain. Gone are the sloppy maelstroms of before: riffs are loose and flow freely atop rumbling basslines and drumming that anchors everything in place while allowing plenty of freedom for songs to breathe and unfold organically. There’s a sense of desperation, of a ragged band pulling together to deliver their brand of antisocial nihilism through gargantuan bluesy grooves with a snarling punk edge.
It’s clear by now that Eyehategod release music when they most need to and when it’s good and ready, not when a label might demand a new album or to sate fans that can’t wait more than two to three years between albums. With A History of Nomadic Behaviour they aren’t reinventing the wheel by any stretch, but it’s another solid entry from a dependably consistent band, at least in quality if not in release timings.
Recommended Tracks: Fake What’s Yours; High Risk Trigger; Every Thing, Every Day