Reviews Keelhaul Keelhaul's Triumphant Return to Obscurity


Keelhaul's Triumphant Return to Obscurity

It’s been five years since Cleveland-based Keelhaul last graced us with Subject to Change Without Notice. In that time a lot has transpired, and not just in the world of music. And yet it is refreshing to know that even though everything surrounding us appears to be in a state of flux, that there are some things that remain constant. Keelhaul is a perfect example of just that.

Keelhaul’s Triumphant Return to Obscurity is about as fitting a title for an album as I’ve ever heard. After laying dormant for a few years the band has returned with their fourth full-length release. In spite of high praise from fellow musicians and critics, Keelhaul has remained, for the most part, below the radar of even the most grounded music fans. Leading off with “Pass the Lampshade,” the four-piece outfit wastes no time lollygagging around. The band’s fusion of technical metal, math-rock, and classic metal is yet again in full force, with drummer Will Scharf providing the backbone for this auditory assault. The rumblings of Aaron Dallison’s bass and the guitar duo of Chris Smith and Dan Embrose complete the musical equation.

Guitarists Smith and Embrose execute mind-numbing riff exercises throughout the entire album. They truly showcase their talents on cuts like “High Seas Viking Eulogy,” which works it way through off time signatures as well as standard groove riffs. Their skills are once again on show on “El Matador,” sounding like Drive Like Jehu started whipping out Slayer covers. As on previous efforts, Dallison and Smith continue to interject with sporadic vocals throughout the album; they never take the focus but only add to existing formula.

On the flip side, Keelhaul also have continued their experimental leanings on the new album. “Glorious Car Activities” features a significant helping of melody and subdued chaos. “THC for One” is another track in which the band tries something new, this time around tackling angular post-hardcore akin to The Jesus Lizard. Closing venture “KFB” is easily the band at their most controlled, venturing through a post-rock epilogue. If I had to name a standout track from Keelhauls latest it would be “Brady’s Lament,” it seems to find the perfect common ground between the band’s noisy and raw metal approach and their fascination with interjections of post-hardcore.

It truly is quite a shame that Keelhaul isn’t more popular. For over a decade they have churned out technically proficient music perfect for banging your head to, and yet have gone widely ignored. So if you’re a longtime fan or just stumbling upon them for the first time (love at first riff), I think it’s about time you suggest them to all your friends. You owe it to them to improve their taste in music.

8.0 / 10Michael
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