-(16)- “Dream Squasher” (Relapse)
Battle Helm Rating
‘…You’re an animal!….No, worse! Human!…’. With its lines taken from the visceral persona of one Oscar Manheim in the 1985 movie “Runaway Train”, -(16)- couldn’t have based their 8th release on a more intense inspiration. Matching ‘Manny’ with their own violent noise, this LA crew have been shanking their sludge since 1992, taking a brief hiatus around the turn of the century to check into rehab (!) before returning with a vengeance in 2007, whereupon they have been on the steady road to recovery in issuing releases and touring. Despite its less than jovial title, ‘..a conscious effort was made to inject positivity into the lyrical themes..’ on the 10 tracks making up “Dream Squasher”, according to founder guitarist vocalist Bobby Ferry, and while there are undoubted inspirations from the likes of Crowbar in the monster down tuned riffs, hooks and melodies, -(16)- equally show their experience across a range of tempos and in using plenty of intelligent arrangements to make this album highly catchy in its extremity. Wading in with a massive groove on ‘Me And The Dog Die Together’, there’s more than a hint of the Melvins driving this nasty ditty with its dirty guitars, hammering drums and hoarse vocals, while the wailing solos don’t just add to the crescendo, but bring in a nice touch of class. With a church organ gracing the slower ‘Sadlands’, there’s a trippy Down feel backed by more thick, down tuned riffs in experiencing a slightly more laid back touch before the crushing ‘Harvester Of Fabrication’ with its gargantuan sludge waves churning your soul inside out through an irresistible groove are topped off by some very tasty melancholic melodies throughout from the guitars – nice! Stomping in slow and grimly on ‘Acid Tongue’, the heavy bass creates the malevolent atmosphere through which a combination of primordial roars and vocal samples keep this 6 1/2 minute piece flowing and twisting while adding sombreness and serenity in perfect unison – a truly brilliant experience, as is, the rest of this excellent album. ‘….No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity….But I know none, and therefore am no beast…’ (William Shakespeare).