Acid Bath – When The Kite String Pops (1994)
The blues are strong with these musicians. When The Kite String Pops is a well regarded (if, like much underground metal, somewhat obscure) work of sludge metal that I owe my knowledge of to its occasional appearance in the “albums with weird cover art” threads on Encyclopedia Metallum’s forums. Not a subgenre I get into very often, but it amuses me how much of a melting pot it is, especially given the existence of New Orleans, its nexus of power. As befits a melting pot, Acid Bath mixes the local blues legacy with some extreme metal tropes, but importantly throws in some alternative rock. I find that in the final product, these influences have simmered down and were surprisingly hard to pick apart from each other without close study.
While the overall emphases vary, one important effect of this approach is that no one musical element overwhelms the others, although my gut feeling is that the vocals enjoy some prominence due to almost every member (with the exception of the drummer) contributing to them in some fashion, even if only in the background. It makes sense, since Acid Bath is one of those bands with particularly interesting lyrics. The gore and terror that infests much of the extreme metal scene is here, but in an oddly personal, twisted shape. Violence comes up a lot, but seemingly from a more personal perspective than usual. I’ve written about such an approach before, but it’s rare enough that I learn to appreciate its occasional return. The guitars tend towards older/more traditional rock and metal riffs, but aesthetically two aspects particularly stand out. First, the distortion is more in line with your average extreme metal recording. Second, at least one of the guitarists drenches his parts in a metric ton of effects; vibratos, choruses, etc, which creates a distinctive droning effect when combined with the more standard rhythm riffs. Further reinforcing the unhinged nature of this recording is its fractured arrangements. Most of these songs aren’t particularly complicated, at least from a structural stance. They also spend a good deal of time repeating their musical ideas. However, Acid Bath moves between song sections with great abruptness and not very much in the realm of transition. Back when I wrote on The Red Chord (see that link I provided), I figured that having your composition style reflect the themes your music deals with was pretty justifiable from an artistic stance, but I don’t know how the rest of the world feels about this. With that in mind, I’d like to hear you, the readers’ opinions on this. Now might be a good time for you to tell your friends about Invisible Blog, thus increasing my viewership, but whatever.
It took me a while to attune to its musical approach, but When the Kite String Pops has earned its place in my collection. In the future, it might lead me down a path of similar content, although I can’t guarantee this; I’ve been splitting between technical death metal and minimalist black metal for some reason.
Highlights: “Blue”, “Finger Paintings of the Insane”, “Jezebel”, “God Machine”