Review: The Grasshopper Lies Heavy ‘A Cult That Worships A God Of Death’

I had a feeling there was a literary theme going on to the band’s moniker, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, and I was right, it is the name of a novel read by the participants of Philip K Dick’s Dystopian work ‘The Man in the High Castle’; a terrifying alternative history work where the Axis powers win the Second World War.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy 'A Cult That Worships A God Of Death'

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy are a San Antonio trio made up of James Woodward – vocals/guitars/synth, Mario Trejo – bass and Steven Barrera on drums. Since forming in 2005, they’ve been prolific with a string of releases to their name, A Cult That Worships A God of Death being the latest. The album was inspired by the band’s 2019 tour of Japan where the tracks were tested in front of audiences, furthermore according to James ‘Playing in Japanese live houses every night was an eye-opening experience, and I feel like American bands and music venues can learn a lot about professionalism and business practices from how things operate in Japan in the live music industry.’

There isn’t really a lot to say about opener Untitled (Intro)’, its 2:41 of feedback and distortion that sets the stage for the album to come. It’s of no great surprise that The Act Of Buying Groceries has a distinctly Jesus Lizard flavour when one considers the fact that they covered that band’s Mouth Breather earlier this year, in fact their noise-rock credentials are cemented further by the 2018 split release they did with Gay Witch Abortion. The track, according to James, focuses on the struggles of isolation during lockdown and how simple acts such as going to a grocery store could prove overwhelming. It certainly has that claustrophobic vibe about it and one can hear it shares Yow and co’s keen sense of paranoia, a belting track.

apocalyptic heavy duty riffing and squeals of feedback that remind me of Souls At Zero era Neurosis…

Charging Bull lives up to its name and reminds one of a far more aggressive Clutch in places, there are also some nice shifts in dynamics that prevent it from sounding too monotone and repetitive. Tennessee features apocalyptic heavy duty riffing and squeals of feedback that remind me of Souls At Zero era Neurosis while The Pastor’s Pockets, the shortest track on the album, leans heavily towards early 90s Melvins and Karp. From here the album takes an instrumental turn commencing with the longest track on the album the 8:43 A Cult that Worships a God of Death Parts I-IV. Despite the verbose nature of the title, the track is a rather fascinating progressive instrumental piece where once again the inevitable sounds of Neurosis loom largely into view, but this is interspersed with light synth touches.

The progressive vibes continue with Bullet Curtain which takes an even lighter detour with more of a post-rock vibe, as well as featuring shades of Yawning Man along with echoes of the eerie track Applebite by Soundgarden (from their penultimate final album Down On The Upside). A blissful beautiful piece and it looks like the band agree as they made it the ‘artist pick’ over on Spotify. Concluding track Sound Check In Japanese has a sound that reminds one of the likes of Pelican and Russian Circles, so if instrumental post-metal is your thing then this is the track for you.

I found the album served as a useful bridge between the band’s earlier instrumental work and their relatively recent traditional song orientated approach. In an age where Pitchfork are slathering over the latest Pissed Jeans and Lightning Bolt release, it’s a joy to listen to noise-rock that is lacking in such hipster appeal.

Label: Learning Curve Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills