Thursday, May 09, 2013

Survival v. Desagravio

Post-Apocalyptic Bukkake


TotalRust was one of the first labels to reach out and develop a relationship with this blog, so I always look forward to getting mail from Israel. They’ve been consistently sending me physical promos for a while now, some excellent (Botanist), some great (Lurk), a few not so good (Shever), and a whole lot somewhere in between.

My most recent Israeli post contained new records from Highgate and Lords of Bukkake. The two bands have a common genre and label, so I’ve decided to resurrect the X v. Y format to compare and contrast the sludge/doom albums Survival and Desagravio.

Kentucky’s Highgate contributed one of the first batch of promos I got from TotalRust, a compilation of their earlier material. It impressed me with “bile-filled vocals” and other blackened touches. This time they have improved production, so they sound heavier. And, there’s a noticeable change of style. All three tracks have an air of brooding melancholy, served well by the production if not by the vocal style. They’ve got the good sense to keep things dynamic, starting out slow but changing rhythm patterns and tempo often enough to make it interesting. The first two tracks are pretty good, but it’s not until closer “Nachwirkungen/Survival” that they get really good, playing with feedback and throwing in a rising tremolo-picked lead. At 20 minutes it accounts for nearly half the album, so on balance I’d say they did a fine job here.

Lords of Bukkake hail from Catalonia, which brings me to a detour. Last time I said a Catalonian band was Spanish I pissed somebody off, and they proceeded to “enlighten” me as if I wasn’t aware of the complicated politics of that statement. I was. When I was in Spain in 2000, I wore a shirt with the letters "eta" on it, completely unaware that is the name of a Catalonian separatist(/terrorist?) group.

Anyway . . . despite nominally sharing a genre, Lords of Bukkake sound quite a bit different. James Plotkin produced this one, making it heavy and bright. They start things on a pick sliding across guitar strings, with echo effect, and then go into some mid-paced sludge/doom with strained, screechy vocals and a strong Weedeater resemblance. Unlike Highgate, the tempo stays relatively constant across the four tracks. Each of the guys might take turns coming around to noodle with his instrument for a while. On your face, of course. They tend to sound like a jam band rather than a band with songs, and there isn’t much of a mood to speak of. The only thing that stands out to me is a riff late in the first track that sounds like it’s slowing down, which is a neat trick. Unfortunately, psychedelia doesn’t appeal to me unless it’s serving a purpose.

I find in favor of Highgate. It would be enough that they have dynamic songs with a beginning, middle, and end, but on top of that there’s a mood. It feels like their music has meaning and purpose. On the other hand, Lords of Bukkake just sound like a jam band, and (coming from me at least) that’s never a compliment.

The Verdict:
Survival – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Desagravio – 2.5 out of 5 stars



  1. ETA is not catalan, they are from Pais Vasco.

  2. Hello, Mr Attorney. I like the way you write cos' you're pretty straightforward and "clean". Your descriptions aren't overdone, you don't abuse adjectives and best of all you don't fill the page with endless lists of related bands to explain the sounds you're talking about.
    Just one thing, ETA is a basque armed organization,not catalan, it's a different movie. Perhaps you'd like to know that for future references. Bye

  3. "When I was in Spain in 2000, I wore a shirt with the letters "eta" on it, completely unaware that is the name of a Catalonian separatist(/terrorist?) group." Not that it bothers me (I'm from Catalonia), but if you don't like being “enlighten” by people then you may want to correct that ;)

  4. Thanks for the correction. All I was trying to say was I was aware that it is a complicated situation . . . not that I know anything about the specifics.

    I don't have a problem with anyone enlightening me, but that's not exactly what happened (hence the quotation marks). Judge for yourself.