Engine Kid formed in Seattle in 1991 and were a transitional band for Greg Anderson from intense hardcore punk/thrash to future drone/doom projects such as Thorr’s Hammer, Goatsnake and Sunn O))). The tracks here are in chronological order starting with 1/4 Mile Thunder from the Novocaine 7” which features Greg on guitar/vocals, Chris Vandebrooke on drums and Art Behrman on bass. The track sees the band’s first tentative steps towards a dynamic approach which, aside from the obvious Slint influence, seems to take cues from the first Dinosaur Jr album alternating between hazy Neil Young Folk passages and noise damaged hardcore.
Speaking of which, a cover of Neil Young’s The Needle And The Damage Done, here shortened to The Needle is next. This is the extended twenty two minute version taken from the Astronaut EP, a release which marked the debut of new bassist Brian Kraft (Krafty). The track described the effects of heroin usage witnessed by Young and struck a sombre tone, in Engine Kid‘s hands there is an extended period of silence and layers of feedback that further enhance the sense of devastation and destruction that come with that drug.
Furnace – If I Were Your Mother I’d Kill You I’m Insane the second Astronaut track is a slamming piece of post-rock/noise-rock that demonstrates the growth in confidence of the band since Novocaine. The track sounds more assured and heavier and marks, in my opinion, the Astronaut EP as the true debut release for the band.
Next are three tracks taken from the Bear Catching Fish full-length debut produced by the legendary Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, Jesus Lizard). The first of these is the title track with its combination of quiet spoken word and abrasive metallic noise pre-dating Zeni Geva’s classic 10000 Light Years album. Cabin Fever at eight and a half minutes is the second longest piece on the album and also the most emotive, raw and vulnerable, as with Husker Du the band perfectly balance volume and introspection. Bullfight sees the band embracing a little Melvins (Ozma era in particular), making this an eccentric, disjointed yet intriguing number.
The eleven tracks chosen for this promo sampler served to remind us of the band’s consistently evolving sound and musical evolution…
Another line-up change ensued with the recruitment of new drummer Jade ‘Blade’ Devitt who debuted on sophomore release Angel Wings from which the next three tracks are taken. Holes To Fight In sees a Fugazi influence as well as flashes of Neurosis and their apocalyptic post-metal, Angel Dust is a previously unreleased track from the Angel Wings album sessions that remind one a little of Bluetip and Cap’n Jazz while Lies Like Knives sees Greg Anderson‘s growing interest in underground extreme metal come to the fore with some truly explosive playing that taps into black metal and doom. Faint traces of Black Flag and Die Kreuzen are present too making this a truly breath taking piece.
Hiking The Circumference Of The Mountaintop Lake is taken from the split they did with Salt Lake City Hardcore cum jazz outfit Iceburn. The added jazz influence here isn’t too surprising considering the band covered John Coltrane’s Ole On Angel Wings. It further demonstrated how daring the band were becoming and highlights what a pity it was they broke up seemingly at the height of their musical creativity. Final track The Heater Sweats Nails is taken from the band’s final release Heater Sweats Nails 7”, an all-out doom/sludge-punk assault that points to Greg‘s future direction and why the band’s dissolution was sadly inevitable.
The eleven tracks chosen for this promo sampler served to remind us of the band’s consistently evolving sound and musical evolution, and I for one can’t wait to eventually get my hands on the 6 LP Box Set that’s scheduled for release on Record Store Day, 12th June, through Southern Lord.
Scribed by: Reza Mills