Dirt Redux – “Dirt Redux” (Magnetic Eye Records)
Battle Helm Rating
When it was released in 1992, “Dirt”, besides becoming Alice In Chains’ highest selling album to date spawning 5 singles, would eventually be certified quadruple platinum selling over 5 million copies worldwide! Acknowledged as being inspirational not just for its critically acclaimed music but emotionally charged topics of drugs, depression and pain, “Dirt” is often considered as one of the most influential albums to the stoner and sludge metal subgenres, which brings us to “Dirt Redux”. This is an ambitious covers album, not just for the underground names who cover each of “Dirt”‘s 13 tracks, including Khemmis, Thou, -(16)-, Howling Giant, Forming the Void, and The Otolith (ex-SubRosa) but the masterful way they have done so in fashioning the original material in tune with their own styles, in some cases recognisable, in other cases less so and where the doom / post metal interpretation by Texas’ Low Flying Hawks of ‘Dam That River’ is concerned, completely different in its far out, ambient psych trip of cellos meets noise! Thankfully stepping back from the mental abyss, Louisiana’s Thou bring on their southern sludge in fine style on ‘Them Bones’, where Jerry Cantrell’s down tuned riffs are now made mud thick and Bryan Funck adds a screamo touch to the still true the original trippy harmony chorus. Taking the laid-back stoner groove of ‘Down In A Hole’ down the dark, doom alley, Colorado’s Khemmis inject massive reverb and dirty up the sound to really stir up some powerful emotions of their own capped off brilliantly by some moody, but highly soulful vocals. I gotta say, I’ve heard plenty of covers of ‘Rooster’ but Tennessee’s Howling Giant has to be one of the best I’ve experienced thanks to its southern groove complete with church organ meets space rock sound and Sebastian Baltes’ giant bass just booming all over the place – man, this is a real trip! Taking the already grinding version of ‘Godsmack’ into a piston pumping fuzz machine, Pennsylvania’s Backwoods Payback stoke it brilliantly through Jessica Baker’s gargantuan stoner bass and Mike Cummings’ rough drawls matching his dirty ass punk guitar sound. With its cover showing the original woman half buried in a cracked desert landscape now resurrected, “Dirt Redux” does the business in probably being the covers album of the year.