Between the plodding stop-and-go riffs and frontman Andrew Laumanns Phil Anselmo-style grunts, much is heavy about Baltimore residents Dope Body. And on the quartets latest full-length, the Drag City debut Natural History, they improve just about every facet of last years Nupping, juxtaposing tighter musicianship and a sleeker ear for melody while retaining the intensity thats made them an archetype for sweaty-basement fuzz.
The five-minute second track Road Dog, near the end, takes a tangential trip to tropical-punk where delayed guitars offer a literal change of pace after the bracing first passages. Two numbers later, Twice the Life whips itself into a frenetic groove, as squawking polyrhythms and jagged riffs erupt into something at once subsuming and cathartic. Given moments like those, its certain that Dope Body are onto something out-of-character, even as John Joness bass still rumbles apocalyptically and David Jacober files rapid-fire drum fills evocative of Deerhoofs Greg Saunier.
For some bands, being noisy and doused in distortion is an excuse to not write clearly structured songs. Fortunately, that school of thought is not one Dope Body subject themselves to. While theres still no reason to call these guys accessible, there are moments here, including ones on Lazy Slave and Weird Mirror, where they flash a punchy hook or two that could serve, say, a Frisco garage-rock group in spades. However, when axman Zach Utz rips quick pre-verse freak-outs, or when Laumann belts out harrowing gargles like youd expect the mescaline-induced beasts from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to, its clear Dope Body get their kicks out of pigfucking around with arrhythmia and cranking stacks to 11; accessibility doesnt pertain to their mission, and thats just fine. Amalgamations like these, all booming and feral, have plenty of merit, too.
Essential Tracks: Lazy Slave and Weird Mirror