Skykicking steps up to the 8-bar and orders a tall, cool drink of wobble.


So Ingram's all about the metal, is he?

I can jump a bandwagon, can't I?

More often than not I'm inclined lately to say "fuck rock," because I just can't get with the retro pose and careful disarray -- this goes not just for new old rock like, well, just anyone coming out of New York these days, but also the falling-down (and not in a Michael Douglas sense) noise rock of the Oakland BBQ crew. Still too studied.

But if you want a rock record, by which I mean a melt-your-socks-off metal maelstrom, you need Toadliquor (which, despite Southern Lord's non-updated site, is indeed on shelves).

I've clearly been writing within my comfort zone for far too long, because all my adjectives are as trite as they come: sludgy, doomy, massive, oppressive, asphixiating, slab-like, gi-fucking-normous, obliteratastic. (Ok, we're finding our groove here.)

References are what you'd expect: Grief, Floor, Eyehategod, Earth -- all those bands derived from the slow-it-down school of kids who grew up playing Sabbath on rickety turntables that were already pitched at -8, straight out the box. And if you suspect a drug influence, look no further than the homonym of the name: this isn't just stoner metal, this is some exotic, psychedelic shit.

The Horator's Lament collects their 1994 LP as well as assorted singles and compilation tracks. Near as I can tell, they came out of Florida, which makes sense. If I lived in the state that would eventually make Dubya president, and had a toadlicker's prognosticatory powers, I'd have made music like this too, if for no other reason to beat back the coastline and pound the entire infernal state back into the ocean. (Sorry, Schematic).

"(Opening Selections Of) Inter-stellar Space," which kicks off the record, starts with a demure bit of feedback -- hey, this might almost be pretty! -- before low-slung guitars and bass take the tune by the neck and drag it down into the devastating opening wallop. The singer doesn't just scream: he turns himself inside out with the very first howl. Imagine Rollins being worked over at Guantanamo Bay while the Red Cross observers are out on their lunch break. And it proceeds from there, never developing, never going anywhere, exactly, but somehow it takes hold of you.

It's all very minor key, of course, very half-steps and black keys, with lots of devil's fifths to keep the Baroque satanists happy. But the exquisiteness isn't in the tropes -- which are as standard as they come -- but the delivery. The repetitions. The trash-can cymbals. The golden blooms inside peals of feedback -- orchids in negative space. The way the bass moves against downward-sliding guitars, like the guilty enabler pacing as he watches his friend turn blue from an OD.

The recording is also exquisite: while the CD's add-ons are appropriately lo-fi, the first eight tracks achieve a sound I've never heard before or since, a kind of mottled, water-logged fullness. Toadliquor's sound is total, and it sucks you up and holds you in thrall.

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