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Album Review: Weedeater’s Goliathan is a Goliath

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Anyone who has experienced the sonic rumblings and onstage antics of the almighty Weedeater (the band, not the eater of weeds) live knows that it is always, without fail, a deliriously good time. Led by the famous overtones and grizzled screechy scream of bassist/vocalist/hillbilly hero Dave “Dixie” Collins (also formerly of Buzzov*en), this sludgy Southern-fried outfit has been wowing audiences for over twenty years now, and for good reason. Something feels comfortable and inviting about the band’s cough syrup/whiskey-fueled performances, and although there is plenty of “show” in each performance, Weedeater truly makes it feel more like a party amongst friends every time.

But the paradigm set up by such a killer live show often creates a hard-to-live-up-to expectation that can be a challenge to measure up to on studio recordings. Many bands have this problem the other way around, when the magic on studio albums doesn’t translate so well to a live setting, but in this case Weedeater has set such a high bar for themselves performance-wise that something can occasionally feel slightly missing when listening to a studio recording.

Having said that, the band certainly has several great albums in its canon, and new offering Goliathan will certainly satisfy hungry fans, especially those whose munchies have been spurred on by ingesting some of those “funny” brownies or other such namesake edibles.

Right off the bat, opening track “Processional” sets a wonderfully intimate mood with the sound of ice being dropped in what one can only assume is a tattered, chipped rocks glass, and a healthy dose of (likely Evan Williams, given Dixie’s penchant for sporting a bottle onstage) whiskey being poured. These sounds are heard against the backdrop of a processional organ (hence the song name) and lilting slide guitar, but the impact really hits when his hushed voice enters the picture.

“I really hate your face… I hate the things you do… I know you don’t like me… I’m coming after you… I really hate your face… I hate the things you do… I know you don’t like me… I’m gonna bury you…” calmly mutters ol’ Dixie, sounding so close that he might as well be reading his version of last rites into your ear. Coupled with the muffled laughs of whoever else was in the room and Dixie whispering “Fuck you” as a response, a backwoods, down-home vibe is established that is entirely appropriate for the rawness of the music about to follow.

Admittedly the barebones vibe of the music on this album plays a bit lackluster at times — first actual song “Goliathan” isn’t quite the ripper you might want from the beginning of the album — but the simplicity of what these guys can do with a fuzzed-out, straightforward riff goes a long way in its merits. Case in point, the next song (and first single) “Cain Enabler” is a killer track that also doesn’t try to be fancy but kicks ass in all the right ways.

Much like the opening track, banjo-picked centerpiece ditty “Battered & Fried” (ending with what sounds like a piss being taken in a toilet) provides a welcome and diverse respite from the usual thunder and paves the way perfectly for deep banger “Claw Of The Sloth”.

It’s hard not to gloriously envision Dixie’s devilish face when hearing his wicked vocal stylings, surely an absent drawback for anyone who’s never seen the band live, and longtime co-conspirator Dave “Shep” Shepherd keeps it lean and meaty on the guitar. Not to mention the images conjured up of somewhat recent addition drummer Travis Owen’s (of Zoroaster/Whores/Artimus Pyledriver fame) magnificent stick tricks — another helpful context clue for those who have witnessed the madness at a show.

Visuals aside, we are left with a pretty solid album of no-bullshit, riff-heavy tunes that unfortunately doesn’t quite match the vigor and vibrancy of Weedeater’s amazing live show. But how on Earth could it? This just means you really have to see the band play the next time they stumble through your stupid town…

Weedeater’s Goliathan comes out May 19 on Season of Mist. You can stream the entire album here and pre-order it here.

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