Some bands just aren’t made to linger in the light. For all the cheery, feel-good pop rock bands out there, others take solace in the cold, damp areas where ill feelings and discomfort reign supreme.
Australia’s Slug Guts is one such band propelled by a fascination with all things obtuse. From haunting sing-bark vocals to piercing guitars and thumping drums, the band is well-schooled in the ways of gothic noise rock. They take cues from the sinister sounds of fellow Australian murk-rockers The Bad Seeds and The Birthday Party, and mesh them with other influences ranging from Tom Waits to The Jesus and Mary Chain.
The band’s latest offering, Playin’ in Time With the Deadbeat, spins like a drug-induced midnight walk through a junkyard, howling with walls of distortion and clattering drums. Fans who favor more atmospheric, macabre rock will have fun with the Aussie band as they romp in the darkness. With tracks like “Scum”, “Adult Living”, and “Order of Death”, Slug Guts make no bones about being untended and untamed, and Deadbeat lives up to its songs’ ugly claims.
Lead track “Scum” is at face value largely a throwaway track, droning along at a slow, discordant tempo for a slightly too-long three minutes, but it appropriately sets the tone for what’s to come as the rest of the disc focuses the noise into conventional song structure. “Old Black Sweats” pumps with loud drums, plentiful amounts of ambient guitar, and droll, barely discernible sing-speak lyrics, while “Suckin’ Down” swings haggardly like a Sisters of Mercy song on acid.
With its chilling soundscapes and cryptic feel, Deadbeat plays as much as a piece of twisted musical theatre as it does a proper studio record. But Slug Guts’ willingness to play up to their own schtick is ultimately part of the fun.
Essential Tracks: “Old Black Sweats”