Listening to Wolf Eyes is not what I'd call a traditionally pleasurable experience. Unless you consider having your face ravaged by a two-by-four while masturbating to an execution an enjoyable experience or, to a lesser extent, tonguing a blister you got from drinking hot soup, I'd advise you to skip over this review and check out what Zed has to say about the new Hot Cross or whatever.
Though this may be Wolf Eyes' first major release (for Sub Pop no less!), the group is no spring chicken; with over 50 tape, CD-R, vinyl, split, and compilation appearances to their credit, the group has been taking their brutal amalgam of pure sadism and noise to audiences around the country for nearly a decade now, even managing to finagle opening slots on this year's ill-fated Lollapalooza excursion, as well as Sonic Youth's recent summer tour (during which leader John Olsen split his skull open with a giant medieval mace).
The move to Sub Pop definitely seems to have tempered Wolf Eyes' attack just a tad, as the defiantly aggressive recordings of previous releases "Dread and "Dead Hills" have all but been replaced with songs of a much more insidious and, dare I say, even listenable nature. Tracks like "Village Oblivia" and "Stabbed In The Face" - with its insistent, pounding rhythm - are unquestionably vile, but most of Burned Mind tends to veer more towards almost ambient territory. Unsettling atmospheres pop in and out of "Rattlesnake Shake," coming across like Fennesz on a bad acid trip in the desert, while an unintelligible voice intones in what sounds either like Satan instructing you to throw yourself off a bridge or a dictatorial rant. Soft squeals and cascading fuzz puncture "Reapers Gong," while the title track features space-age sirens fighting against a haphazardly plucked guitar, concluding with an ear-piercing squeal that lasts for an excruciating 40 seconds. All these interesting textures band together to create some pretty gripping images in the mind's eye.
Though it's certainly helpful to have a fervent masochistic streak in you, the real key to understanding what makes Wolf Eyes so compelling is understanding where the group's roots lie. To a certain degree, Wolf Eyes are the logical extension of 80's noise and industrial acts like Whitehouse, :Zoviet*France:, Throbbing Gristle, and Einsturzende Neubauten- groups who were more concerned with Varese-like pursuits of new and interesting timbres and sounds rather than standard musical conventions like melody and harmony. In short, this will probably annoy everyone else you know.
8.0 / 10
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