Concert review by Jay H. Gorania
Like incense burning prior to a ritual, the scent of Mary Jane preceded EYEHATEGOD’s entrance onto Emo’s indoor stage. A sold-out show, the sweaty heathens on hand were crammed like sardines (and they didn’t smell much better). The anticipation was almost tangible because this wasn’t just any Eyehategod gig. A one-shot deal exclusively in Austin, they performed their highly-regarded initial two albums, In the Name of Suffering and Take as Needed for Pain.
The collective anticipation and tension swelled like a ripening fruit ready to burst. With eyes clenched tight, Joey LaCaze was rocking back and forth behind the drum kit. Guitarist Jimmy Bower, who was puffing away at a cigarette while gripping his guitar and swaying similarly to the squealing feedback, was staring at the drummer, awaiting him to set things off.
Finally, LaCaze drove his drumsticks downward with the subtlety of a guillotine, and things only became uglier from that point onward. Singer Mike Williams was obviously bit by the party bug, but he was exuding nothing but misery. There wasn’t exactly a festive spirit coming through his gut-wrenching screams.
And while a singer who is stumbling and sometimes falling down might mean a lack of professionalism for most artists, it’s everything the crowd expected and wanted in this case. He dove into the crowd to throw some punches at someone. He was regularly flipping the audience off and spitting at it. Attendees did nothing but masochistically lap it up.
The slow riffs of Bower (also drummer of Down), Brian Patton (also Soilent Green’s guitarist) and relatively new bassist Gary Mader sounded as though they were literally being strummed beneath the surface of a murky Louisiana swamp, such was their slow and powerful delivery. At times an energized ’80s hardcore stomp sped things up and broke up what would have otherwise been an exercise in monotony. It was a thunderous, distinctly southern kind of blues ’n doom poured through a punk-rock filter.
Everything was held together in a decidedly loose manner, as the songs are on record, though Eyehategod isn’t given enough credit for being as on-time as they are in the live setting.
Earlier on, local openers THE ROLLER delighted with their Eyehategod-inspired dirge, though their singer’s likeable high-pitched scream outwore its welcome as it failed to offer variety. Then IRON AGE left a greater impression with their old-school thrashing that also had obvious references to punk and doom. But the audience, especially those who travelled from across the country, was unquestionably there for Eyehategod.
Though he didn’t offer any timeline as far as potential recording or release dates, Jimmy Bower told HELLBOUND they had about five new songs written, and plenty of ideas on tap.
Eyehategod’s last studio album, Confederacy of Ruined Lives, was released in 2000.