Fight Amputation will be releasing their first new LP in three years with next month’s “Constantly Off.” If the two tracks streaming on their bandcamp page is any indication, then the album is going to be an unrelenting barrage of heaviness.
For a three-piece band, they definitely know how to fill out their sound. There’s a nice layer of clear, punishing bass underneath the thick crunch of the guitar. With tone straight out of Queens of the Stone Age, and the riffs to match, Fight Amp sound like they have something to prove, and aren’t wasting any time barreling through these tracks with reckless abandon.
“Ex Everything” starts off with chugging, down-tuned guitars and the stuttering feel of shifting time signatures in the verse. The chorus (if you want to call it that, as it only happens once) takes flight, however briefly, and ends with just a touch of a hint of what might have turned out as a catchy hook if they had wanted it to. That hook hints at some of Nirvana’s early material–perhaps a beefier “Big Long Now”–with both vocal lines ending similarly.
The album is available for pre-order right now through Fight Amp’s bandcamp page. The album will officially come out on June 9th, after which the band will be playing shows around the mid-west, East coast, and Canada, in addition to a hometown show (of course). You can check tour dates on the bandcamp page, or on fightamp.com.
I’ll admit that I tend to get a little bit bogged down in the details from time to time. It’s part of my job, and part of who I am, so sometimes I can’t help it. As a music theorist I’m always trying to dig deeper into the function of every single note and looking for patterns and so on and so forth.
Sometimes, though, it’s just good to listen to some instrumental sludge/doom/stoner metal to really take my mind off of all the other music that I should be thinking about. I think that part of what allows me to do this is the kraut-rock-ish plodding of the low, droning, open strings, that sort of lulls me into a calmer state of being. One wouldn’t normally think of doom metal as being particularly relaxing, but then again I’m not exactly the gold standard of normativity either.
That timbre, the thick crunch of a guitar’s wound strings processed through about 10 Marshall stacks with the bass doubling everything an octave below, that’s what it’s all about with this music. That and the riffs. Something about it, and even after years of trying I’m still not able to figure out exactly what it is that does this, but it feels as though not just the music is going in slow motion, but all life around the music is going in slow motion. That definitely makes the genre worthy of the label.
The way I see it, all stoner metal/riff rock starts with Black Sabbath. It’s basically proto-metal, but it started out nearly fully formed. Take a riff, smother it in thick distortion and play it until your fingers bleed. Over and over and over again. Poland’s stoner/doom metal Belzebong has that thick crunch down. I think the guitars are tuned down to what sounds like a C, though to be honest it is kind of difficult to discern pitch when things get so low, and then put on top of that the distortion and the fact that the chords are all root-fifth-octave. Things get muddy. The track, “Dungeon Vultures,” doesn’t cover too much territory across its 14 minutes, but I’m definitely not complaining. Some artists make 5 minutes seem like an eternity, but this 14 minutes goes by, I wouldn’t say quickly, but it certainly doesn’t feel like nearly an entire album side. “Dungeon Vultures” was recorded last year, and is limited to only 500 copies, there are still some available Check out the track below.
After enjoying your 14 minutes of dirge and distortion, you can pick yourself up again with the closer-to-standard-tuning, comparatively swinging and bluesy riff-rocker “Blind Seer” by Green & Wood. This one’s a little more in the realm of a standard tune: under 5 minutes and with sneering vocals. I still can’t shake the feeling that, though not as sludgy, or doom-y, that an air of kraut-rock sensibility still exists. We’re reminded of the Black Sabbath connection at about the 2:40 mark, as the song chugs into a very Tony Iommi-esque breakdown. You can check that one out below.
“Blind Seer” appears on Green & Wood’s 2011 release “Devil’s Plan.” It seems like it’s a bit hard to find, but there are a couple copies floating around if you want them.
Belzebong is on tour throughout Europe right now. Dates can be found at their bandcamp.
Re-issues are a touchy subject to some. Who decides whether or not an album is deserving of a 2nd look? Does an album have to be a runaway hit and become hard to find in order for it to be deemed re-issue worthy or is it more that later success in a band’s career may assist earlier recordings in being resurrected from obscurity? In the case of Queens of the Stone Age it is more so the latter than the former.
Josh Homme, the lead singer, guitarist and mastermind behind Queens of the Stone Age seems to be popping up all over the place. He seems to be the journeyman of heavy music involving himself in as many projects as he can including The Eagles of Death Metal and Them Crooked Vultures with fellow omnipresent rocker Dave Grohl – a friend and former Queens of the Stone Age drummer appearing on their 2002 release “Songs for the Deaf”. To many this is where QOTSA started to be a band to watch. The song “No One Knows” was an oft played bona fide college radio hit that introduced their hard driving sound to the masses. That album, though, is much more polished and “radio-friendly” than their first, self-titled release. The self-titled release features the stripped down sound that later efforts blossomed into.
Each song on this first effort espouses a simple formula that drills one riff into the ground with little to no variation at all. Homme is a prolific riff-writer; it seems as though he can go on for days at a time churning out short little ideas one after the other. Think of krautrock mixed with metal. There are super crunchy guitars that present highly repetitive motifs that surge ahead like a freight train. Most of the songs on this first release really are one idea, one riff, pounded to death like a jackhammer into the ground. The riffs that comprise the songs are, more often than not, short little snippets, some only a measure long. It seems that the band is transfixed by them, and as a listener I can only just turn it up all the way and bob my head in time, equally transfixed. At times the idea that is the foundation of a song will be moved up and down the guitar, but the accent and rhythm remain unchanged. It’s as if they are trying to shake the idea loose but are unable, or unwilling to completely let go.
The guitar tone is pure and clear with a perfectly buzzy heavy sound while the solos tear through with laser like precision. The band, as a unit, locks into a mode where they feel like an unstoppable machine or like a tank bearing down on you slowly and there is no way to stop them. The lead lines are matched in their clean, laser like precision by Homme’s voice that is unmistakeable; cutting right across everything. The vocals sit somewhere between a monotonous drone and a sweetly sung melody that help to balance out the hard driving effect of the rest of the band. The whole package works so well and has a unique sort of balance to it.
With re-issues it is almost expected that there are at least one or two bonus tracks that were previously unreleased. Such is the case here and we are given the tracks “These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For” which is nearly a complete throwaway and “The Bronze”, which starts out sounding like Van Halen’s “Little Guitars” before opening up into a full on rocker. Final bonus track “Spiders and Vinegaroons” is a bit too lengthy and wandering, clocking in at over 6 minutes which is far more than this band is capable of holding our attention for. The track does lead nicely into the equally trippy and incoherent “I Was a Teenage Hand Model”, which takes us completely out of the zone of heavy riffage and more so into the realm of a hangover followin a night of hard partying.
This first release shows us where Queens of the Stone Age began, as an idea, as an exercise in heavy riffs and minimalist motorik repetition. It is good to see these ideas taking shape and developing into something more fully formed on later releases and even finding their way onto the radio. Josh Homme’s non-stop work ethic has become turned him into a one man revolution in hard rock.