It’s a difficult one this Bludded Head album. One on hand their sound is in itself interesting, leaning more to a kind of slow motion noise rock that has the feel of what it might be like if someone like Bitch Magnet tried to make a sludge record (the presence of a Codeine over is unsurprising). The live, band in a room recording works perfectly for it. The guitar tone is a perfectly fuzzy mess.
But for all that’s interesting about Reign In Bludd..well, it’s just not an entirely compelling listen in the way one would hope, feeling more like a collection of ideas or loose jams in places than a cohesive LP. Given that a member of the band was apparently going through a serious, life threatening health problem, it’s also extremely hard, as a reviewer, to separate personal sympathy for a set of circumstances I can’t possibly understand the true horror of, from my feelings about the music. So while I bear the best of wishes and respect for main man Nevada Hill for pulling through that, I’m sorry to say that I can’t let it change my feelings about the music here.
Let’s get the good out of the way first: the track Pouring Rain, which is the pinnacle of the record. Starting with a Slint style “Song as Story” approach with its’ spoken word vocals and slowly building momentum, it’s the band at their most focused and effective. We move from those quieter spoken parts into a huge, filthy blob of riffage and volume early on – the quiet/loud pattern repeats but it’s done in such a way that when it does, the loud parts seem like a genuine howl of pain rather than simply the sound of a distortion pedal going on. There’s a long stretch of fuzzed out guitar that runs on till the end abruptly kicks in, and when it’s over, you find yourself oddly silent for a minute. It’s a simple idea beautifully executed.
It’s not so well executed on opener Shitsucker Blues, which hit a great, fiery crescendo of wah laden guitar overload at one point in the middle, but feels like it really drags up until that point. The first half of the song is a dreary, almost there crawl of screamed vocals and a minimal, dull riff that’s just kind of..there. IT does put across a sense of misery without doubt, but it’s just not particularly engaging to listen to.
Instrumental Fuck It Dry is essentially just the sound of a band messing with a riff they like. It’s a good riff. It just doesn’t make for much of a song. Closing with the afore mentioned Pea, it’s a suitably miserable take on an already miserable song that’s just guitar and world weary vocals. It’s brief enough for the attention not to wander, and it’s a poignant ending to the LP.
Overall we’re looking at a game of two halves here – a misfiring opening half that gives way to a far more convincing and compelling second section that will bum out the listener in the best possible way. This is not going to be an everyday or easy listen, that’s for sure, and it’s certainly puts across a sense of absolute dread and fear in a way your average death or doom metal band should be envious of. But it’s something of a chore to listen to, and that’s what makes it difficult to summarise. Worth hearing once at least, if only to get a taste of how heavy music can be an unparalleled tool for documenting the lows of life.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes