Montreal’s favourite bearded noise-rock wizards – The Great Sabatini – are back with their fourth full-length album, featuring such family-unfriendly titles as “Still Life with Maggots,” “The Pursuit of Crappiness Parts 1-4” and “You’re Gonna Die (Unsatisfied).” You can always count on noise rock to warm your heart on a cold Canadian winter’s day, eh?
The seven-song, 36-minute effort kicks off with the aforementioned “Still Life with Maggots,” a churning, gurgling piece of abrasive sludge that lasts for just over two minutes, but checks all the boxes when it comes to noise rock—it even has a spoken-word interlude! “Dog Years” lays things on a little thicker and gloomier, with some heavy Crowbar worship and a downright doom-metal section just past the two-minute mark; I think I already heard this one on an EP somewhere, though.
“Strip Mall or The Pursuit of Crappiness, Parts 1-4” features some of the most vicious stop-start breakdowns this side of Eyehategod, before throwing an old-school hardcore tempo change at you around the two-minute mark. And from a lyrical standpoint, the opening salvo of “You’re Gonna Die (Unsatisfied),” which is “I’m being held at gunpoint,” would make Mike IX proud, with the overall vibe falling somewhat between Unsane and EHG, and just a bit of post-sludge thrown in for good measure.
After the less-than-dreamy “Tax Season in Dreamland,” with its meandering spoken-word outro, and the lighter, lingering “Brute Cortege,” which doesn’t bring in the breakdowns until the final 30 seconds, the album ends on a wild note with the 15-minute epic “Hand of Unmaking.” The slowly building intro reminds me of Sons of OTIS, although they don’t hit you as hard off the get-go. Instead, they wallow in the mire for a while, mumbled vocals buried in the mix, before the first angular, math-rock riff hits right around the 4:20 mark. But then some 30 seconds later, the riff gives way to what sounds like a violin, backed by a lightly picked guitar passage…and then we get our first bellowed vocals just shy of six minutes in, alongside a series of crushing breakdowns. And yet, they go from a scream to a whisper about a minute later…
We’re about eight minutes in before I hear anything I’d file under “sludge”—and that’s not a bad thing. Oh, and did I mention the bagpipes?