Review: Chat Pile ‘God’s Country’

If you’ve been following the brief but fascinating rise of Chat Pile, you’ll know there’s no one else quite like them in the underground heavy music scene. After two impressive self-released EPs (reissued by the prestigious Reptilian) crawled out of their Oklahoman base a few years back, it’s been a wild ride accustoming the ears to one of the most unique sounds to emerge this decade so far… A bizarre but weirdly logical fusion of 80s Touch And Go noise-rock, weird nu/industrial metal riffing, a drummer who plays an electronic drumkit, and a vocalist who doesn’t sing so much as perform weird and terrifying spoken word character sketches over the din beneath. Their sound struck a chord with those on the hunt for unusual sounds almost immediately, being as ugly as it was compelling.

Chat Pile 'God's Country'

Building on their previous works, God’s Country is an absolute monstrosity of a thing. A series of snapshots from the darkest corners of the shitshow that is the American 21st century psyche, detailing how grief and paranoia can spiral downward into revenge, violence and self-abuse. Frontman Raygun Busch is the centre of it all, coming across like some bastard son of Patrick Bateman who’d grown up in a small industrial town instead of New York. He rants, moans, and screams his way through a series of horrific first person vignettes, inhabiting his characters wholeheartedly.

Opening with the bludgeon of Slaughterhouse, it’s hard to be clear – as it often is with some of the lyrics here – what exactly he’s talking about. It could be an exhausted worker trying to imagine his way out of the grotesque mundanity of the meat processing workday, then he’ll throw in a line like ‘There’s more screaming than you’d think’ that makes you wonder if he’s actually butchering humans. When you get to the absolute nightmare that is armed robbery serenade The Mask with its shrieks of ‘LINE UP THE ANIMALS! SIRLOIN STOCKADE’ it’s even less clear.

Busch is the ranting madman at the back of the bus you think might be dangerous but can’t be sure. It’s even more affecting when on the incredibly direct Why he sincerely addresses the absolute shame of American homelessness or emits a weary ‘This is something that I cannot beat. And it for sure will destroy what energy I have left inside’ on the Albini-gone-metal stomper Tropical Beaches, Inc. it’s hugely relatable. Even maniacs are human.

Busch‘s schizophrenic persona isn’t the most jarring thing about God’s Country, however – it’s the music itself. It’s a miracle that all the components fit together as well as they do because, quite simply, they shouldn’t. All the bits you know and love from the previous releases are there, the pounding bad mood grooves, seasick guitar dissonance, and churning riffage – but there’ll be an unexpectedly lovely moment of warped Cocteau Twins/The Cure guitar here (Pamela), a hint of late 80s college rock there (Anywhere). Then at the other end of the scale, The Mask even breaks into a blast beat under the gnarled riffing at one point.

They’re a seriously fucking good band doing something that’s uniquely theirs…

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room here; yes, to be brutally frank, there are more than a few riffs in here that wouldn’t be entirely out of place on a mid-90s nu metal album. This is going to be a problem for many of you. Until you hear it. The nu metal element comes across less like polished Drop A funk and instead seems like a bizarro world version of Korn, where rather than being signed to a major label, they’d gotten even further into meth and bath salts, and never progressed past weird dive bar gigs and four-track recordings.

The closing duo of acapella I Don’t Care If I Burn into the utterly batshit grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg is, essentially, their Daddy or Kill You – the long, slow-building, closing act that leaves you deeply unnerved. But the nod is structural perhaps, tonal rather than outright musical. The truth is, this sounds like Big Black covering Korn, adapting the status of that music as a touchstone for the dispossessed, and slams it through the filter of art damaged noiseiks, repurposing music they liked in their tweens, fully aware of its relatability and shorn of any of the worries about being cool by copping to something so largely mocked.

Is the term ‘Pigfuck Metal’ a thing? Because really, if you need to classify this remarkable, deeply odd record, that might be the most accurate description I can think of. There’s no one else out there like this right now, and it’s baffling to think what they’re going to sound like, and who they’re going to connect with, over the next few years. They’re a seriously fucking good band doing something that’s uniquely theirs, and in the process, they’ve created what might be the most impressive debut album of the decade thus far. Grab it now before they explode. Literally.

Fuck knows what they get up to in their spare time to create music this damaged. It probably involves fireworks. It’s stupid. But you already knew that. You already knew.

Label: The Flenser
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Jamie Grimes