Weedeater, y’all. The North Carolina sludge trio are back with their long overdue fourth album, JASON…THE DRAGON. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, here’s your 30 second primer – Frontman Dixie Collins was a member of the legendary Buzzov*en (arguably the prototype for all sludge bands to follow) and hooked up with Dave and Keith upon that band’s dissolution to form Weedeater, a more southern fried doom version of Collins’ former outfit. Oh yeah, and they like weed. A lot. Controlled substances, southern lore, and general madness makes up most of the band’s subject matter, in a bizarre cocktail of doom that’s become their trademark. JASON…THE DRAGON doesn’t break from that tradition, although it’s the slickest and most grown up that the band’s ever sounded.
Opening with the spoken word rant of “The Great Unfurling,” you can almost smell the stench of stale weed and whiskey permeating through your speakers. “Hammerhandle” continues amidst a wall of feedback and stumbles forward like a junkie downing a bottle of NyQuil, eventually sobering up with the ringing hangover of “Mancoon” and the delightfully titled “Turkey Warlock.” The album settles back into a hostile trudging for the duration of the disc, with the meaty title track and the solitary delusions of “Palms and Opium.” The band swaggers out towards the end of the album with “Homecoming” and the banjo/piano trickling exit of “Whiskey Creek.” On the surface, JASON…THE DRAGON appears to be a less raucous album than its predecessors, but in reality it’s just not as obviously raucous. There’s plenty of madness to be had in the lyrics, and the subdued noise on this collection of tracks tends to pack a heavier wallop after a few listens.
I mentioned “slick” and “grown up” earlier in this review, and those two noteworthy accomplishments should be credited to famed producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Helmet, Neurosis, and a bazillion other bands), who gives JASON…THE DRAGON just enough of a veneer to make the tunes generally more listenable while retaining their inherit filth and stank. Albini’s built a reputable career of producing a wide range of artists spanning an encyclopedia’s worth of genres, and the audible balance that he brings to a band like Weedeater is invaluable.
JASON…THE DRAGON is another worthy addition to the Weedeater catalog, but more importantly, it’s another worthy excuse for the band to continue their seemingly endless touring schedule. If you like your music dirty as the men’s room floor in your corner bar, Weedeater is the answer to your prayers.
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