haarp – The Filth

By Kyle Harcott

Having heard haarp’s name over and over again in the press recently, especially in every recent Phil Anselmo interview, it’s safe to say I had pretty high expectations for The Filth – as a result, I wasn’t sure anything that hyped would be able to live up to its advance press.

Based on pedigree alone though, there’s no question I should like haarp – a lot: Dirty, enraged sludge from NOLA, sounding mostly like the bastard spawn of Crowbar, and carrying the weighty endorsement of (and Housecore contract from) Anselmo. The Filth had all the earmarks of being right up my alley. But still, there were those doubts…

The deeper I dug into the album, I found myself only *really* liking about half of it, not enough to champion the whole disc outright. The band nails down all those crushing, dive-bomb riffs, sure enough, but I just felt like there was still something missing. About half the time, there’s a more than a passing similarity to Crowbar, musically if not vocally, but I found haarp just doesn’t carry Crowbar’s emotional impact and depth. In those moments when The Filth does show a maturity akin to the aforementioned, I found Shaun Emmons’ tortured gurgle didn’t always fit the picture – he uses it incessantly throughout the entire sixty-minute record, and, if I’m honest, there were times when it got a little grating.

Regardless, the album has some fine moments: “A New Reign” stands out, with Emmons’ harrowing vocal complementing Grant Tom’s captivating and brutal riffs. “Peerless”, too, with its melting-ice tempo, showcases some blistering leads over slugcrawl rhythms from Tom that, on first listen, actually reminded me of old Helmet (if Helmet were fond of benzos, that is).

As well, the horrific, mesmerizing “Here in the Dark” smears its mental damage all over the walls. Carrying with it some serious Eyehategod downer heft, it’s definitely my favorite track on the album. “Plurimus Humilus, Ciacco” follows the same path right down the drain, absolutely wallowing in enraged misery and despair. These latter two tracks are the album’s saving grace for me, and kept me from writing off the album too soon.

Ultimately, I think The Filth shows enough promise that I’m curious to see what haarp come up with for their next record.

(Housecore Records)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.