Remember when you and your friends formed your first band? It didn't matter what kind of music you were going to play. As long as you had a really awesome sounding name. So when a band takes the stage and screams "We are Keelhaul, from Cleveland, Ohio," I bet the first thing that pops into your head is what the heck is a keelhaul, or how the hell do you keelhaul something/someone. Webster's defines keelhauling as an act of "discipline by dragging under the keel of a ship." That should clue you into the type of music Keelhaul plays.
After two previous full-lengths, the hardcore/metal quartet brings to the table their most versatile release to date. Drawing influence from technical metal, math-rock, and stoner/sludge, Keelhaul has carved themselves a niche alongside such like-minded bands as Mastodon, Craw, Isis, and Eyehategod.
The album is comprised of a stellar mix of complex time-signatures that could easily find their place on a Dillinger Escape Plan record and slow-sludgy demeanor that bring to mind early 70's Black Sabbath. The album opens with a nice building sequence of stoner influenced metal, and rocks you so hard that before you know it you're already three tracks deep into the album. Throughout most of the album the bass is buried in the mix, however, it does have some standout moments, such as in the tracks "Driver's Bread" and "Mash the Sandwich", that demonstrate that there is talent at that position. Perhaps the most unique aspect is the limited use of vocals on only a third of the songs on the album. Just when you think you understand what this band is doing, they hit you with a tracks like "HMG" and "Tits of War" which are math-rock driven interludes. The drummer is very proficient throughout the entire album, and best showcased on what I feel to be the album's strongest track, "Randall". The album rounds out with a beautiful acoustic piece that is a nice change of pace after the frantic listen your years just had.
So how do I describe this record in a few short words that would make you go out and buy it? Subject to Change Without Notice is a masterful piece of hybrid-music from a band you've ignored for far too long. If you enjoy what you hear, you'll be gathering up the rest of their discography in no time.
8.5 / 10
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