Eat the Low Dogs is a beautifully dark and medicating record that fewer ears will hear than it deserves. It rocks, laments and hollers from the mountainous region of Marion, North Carolina with an enduring gloom that feels archaic and steadfast throughout. The old-timer influences are vast, but U.S. Christmas old/new merged sound is unified and deliberate: Hawkwind, Neil Young and slow-burn sludge metal such as Neurosis or Isis with their amps to eleven all play a role in U.S. Christmas composite sound which is less sinister as it is somber. The muddling of genres results in a drug-addled state of alternating between southern rock, psych outbursts and old-fashioned country. A grim sincerity permeates the album's core and the drawn-out hymns recall a southern fried Pageninetynine at their most fleshed out, downtrodden and helpless. Eat the Low Dogs is the blues for a generation of misfit types with social problems, from a handful of miscreants with those same problems.
The content running through the lot of songs on Eat the Low Dogs is despair, loss and abject paranoia about life, love and hate. As a whole the album is devastatingly cathartic in the dreariest sense, and if taken as a whole has a cleansing affect. Significantly though, and contrary to most albums of this ilk it envelops you rather than drowns you in its downs. Eat the Low Dogs songs works more like extravagant southern rock dirges rather than a drone which leaves you expecting a payoff that never arrives. As the layers unfurl, you will find yourself in a hedge maze of sound that is uneasy to escape and easy to lose yourself in. Eat the Low Dogs is cohesive and intelligent without sounding choppy or overbearing, on their third album U.S. Christmas have hit pay dirt for the loners.
In The Light of All Time sets the stage for the entire record, beginning with a repetitive, solemn guitar tone that waxes through the entire four minutes while Nate Halls gravel-throated vocals dither in front of the music from processing and pedals. After four minutes, the first aural onslaught begins with The Scalphunters which makes apparent that U.S. Christmas are less a restrained band as one who is capable of both soft tickling and hard hits to the face, sometimes simultaneously. Say Sister is the point of no return, a nine minute song that epitomizes the sound of the record; it builds and churns along the deranged path of psych and art-metal, with whirring Theremin and keyboards as the songs underbelly. Six minutes in, a slow crawl is followed by a fervent three-minute breakdown of psychedelic cacophonythe payoff always arrives. With three songs stretching the eight minute mark, the band is patient and calculated in their ways of toiling through songs, yet the delivery is brutal.Silent Tongue follows the same path of despair and lasts for ten grueling minutes, Hall peppers the song with a deviant repeater in his declaration fifteen bottles of gasoline will be there for me / when I cut out your silent tongue Each song on Eat the Low Dogs is beguiling, interesting and memorableeven unavoidably catchy for the macabre. It feels complete with inspirations spanning throughout the entire record, and even an instrumental in the mid section (The Light and Trails) that cuts the record in half. Its also book ended by Pray to The Sky which is a variation of the first song with different vocals, that ends the record on an even bleaker note than it beganfitting.
Eat the Low Dogs is a sleeper that hopefully will find the right sets of ears; it should be a beacon of soft light in the minds of sludge lovers, ex-psychedelics and people who enjoy a voyage through forlorn dirges that are as murky as they are somber. It is honest and escapes classification while feeling consistent throughout. U.S. Christmas has created a long-playing set of dreary songs that wont drain you but rather cauterize any open wounds; its a detox system for the loner, medication for the malefactor and prescribed music for the passionately low.
9.1 / 10
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