By Kyle Harcott
Recorded in 1998, Revelation: Sick Again was apparently held from release due to legal hassles surrounding the usual myriad uncleared movie samples throughout. Then it was bootlegged to shit after Sounds of the South put out a very limited vinyl version in 2007. At long last, Buzzov*en have secured a legit release for Revelation: Sick Again through Hydra Head, so we finally get to see what all the fuss was about. And while it’s a brisk eight songs in 28 minutes, it’s everything you know and love about these North Carolina dirt merchants. Slow-rot/quick-burst mulekicks that remind you why Buzzov*en were so ahead of their time in the first place: Pissed-off sludge smothered in hostility and tinnitus-inducing feedback, but with grooves so goddamned deep, it’s nigh-impossible to keep from bobbing your head.
There’s an inherent nihilism on any Buzzov•en album –dripping with toxic negativity, the band’s reputation precede them- and that’s no different here. But it only makes the music more engrossing and virulent. The Buzzov*en experience is not unlike playing with a not-entirely-tame animal, or working with a faulty piece of machinery – you don’t know when you’re going to get bit, but you know there’s a strong possibility of it happening. Revelation: Sick Again is a nasty bastard of an album, when it’s not crawling with napalm-sticky sludge, it’s bearing down on you like a white-hot locomotive conducted by a enraged, drunk, suicidal engineer.
The first three songs are standard-issue, booze-fueled-punch-up Buzzov•en – all fists, boots and fury; if you’re not sinking in slow-motion quickmire, Buzzov*en’s dragging your beaten ass at high speeds behind their hate-fueled pickup, blotto behind the wheel with the kind of molasses-thick rage that the current glut of sludge bands owe a major debt to. But it’s the fourth track -“Break Me Off”- that’s a departure. A crawling drug-fueled nightmare, Kirk Fisher’s guttural vocal recalls Tom Waits or the late Captain Beefheart, if either of those two had perhaps instead chosen a career path of insane, shambling, street person. The track lurches, bubbles and squeaks to its climax – a migraine-inducing feedback loop, a minute of pure audio torture.
If you’re familiar with Buzzov*en, you pretty much know what to expect here, and you’re going to love tracks like “Never Again”, “Symptom”, and “Junkie” . If you’re not familiar with the band, Revelation: Sick Again is as good a place to start as any of their other albums. Mean-spirited, drug-and-booze-fueled Southern hatesludge that blazed the trail first. Rock solid.