When we talk about ‘lifers’, there’s few that embody the term better than Eyehategod. Since their 1990 debut, ‘In The Name Of Suffering’, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the New Orleans sludge metallers have been through hell and back, so much so that the lore and mythos surrounding them is almost as well known as their body of work.
Every member has battled substance addiction and legal scrapes, while vocalist Mike IX Williams has survived homelessness, post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, and most recently his own mortality. These guys are the definition of ‘real deal’. There’s no posturing, no hyperbolic or tongue-in-cheek claims, just raw and uncomfortably honest truths spat back from the underbelly of existence.
Crucially, what certifies their ‘lifer’ status is the simple fact that Eyehategod still exist. To have gone through what these guys have and still be putting out work over thirty-years later is nothing short of remarkable, even more so for the fact that ‘A History Of Nomadic Behaviour’, their sixth studio album, is pretty damn great. The band’s iconic bluesy misery remains as venomous as ever, and feels especially sharp and pointed given the sociopolitical context of the last couple of years.
Mike IX Williams has said “Eyehategod isn’t a political band, however, it was hard not to have been affected by the news of the last year”. What’s so clever about his lyrics on ‘A History Of Nomadic Behaviour’ is the way that he manages to tie together the numerous different strands of turmoil the world, and specifically his country, has seen in recent times. The Iinfection is the way / Disruptive crowd takes aim” line in ‘High Risk Trigger’ operates on an especially smart metaphorically pivot, equating the pandemic to the culture war we are currently seeing in the West and particularly in America.
Throughout ‘A History Of Nomadic Behaviour’, Williams‘ lyrics are poetic and vivid. His use of the William Burroughs cutup method to strap together seemingly random lines pays off in spades, juxtaposing extraordinary images alongside each other. ‘Anemic Robotic’‘s “Stabbing into corners blind / Trigger for a real disconnect this time” chorus is especially potent, as is ‘High Risk Reward’‘s “Circuits in her head swindle out of luck / Rusted bombs trade ghetto / Torn apart, ripped apart”. His oblique and mysterious gutter poetry is endlessly engrossing, sometimes savage and accusatory, sometimes acidically funny.
Music-wise, ‘A History Of Nomadic Behaviour’ manages to match the vitriol of Williams‘ lyrics, using the band’s famous blues-addled riffs to trudge and crawl through their runtimes, like drunks howling down a late night street. ‘Three Black Eyes’ staggers and slumbers, moving from urgent riffs into noisy collapses, while features penetrating riffs that cut like knives, moving in step with cadence of the vocals (as many Eyehategod songs do) towards a truly nasty breakdown introduced with by Williams‘ “motherfucker” cry.
Closing the album is the bitter and twisted ‘Every Thing, Every Day’. One of Eyehategod‘s finest examples of earnest and honest nihilism, its pure hatred is so compellingly evil that it’s both hard to listen to but even harder to look away from. Williams‘ simple lyrics are stripped of their poetry, instead echoing simple mantras about the meaninglessness of day-to-day life.
The final line of “Kill your boss” ends the album on an appropriately anarchic note, and reminds you of the genuinely dangerous and transgressive power that Eyehategod possess.