Eyehategod - Dopesick
Century Media
Doom Metal/Stoner
12 songs (38:51)
Release year: 1996
Century Media
Reviewed by Phil
Archive review

New Orleans has always been a grimy, disgusting city. The gutters are full of piss and puke; the sidewalks are soaked in spilled booze and blood. When Hurricane Katrina broke the levees, many Southern preachers took great delight in the city’s destruction. Ministers marched to their pulpits and yelled that the city was pulled down by the weight of its past sins. But there were plenty of voices preaching the end time for New Orleans before Katrina. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, a whole generation of bands emerged from the dirty city…Acid Bath, Crowbar and Down, to name a few. But the most hateful, the most caustic and the most disturbing was Eyehategod. Their slow, sloppy, distorted songs seem to perfectly encapsulate the fury and the filth of New Orleans. And their 1996 album, Dopesick, is a telling testament to living and nearly dying in the crumbling old South.

Musically, the band had never been this cohesive. Drummer Joe LaCaze is undoubtedly the backbone of the band’s primal, pounding sound. His solid, patient style lays the perfect foundation for guitarists Jim Bower and Brian Patton to play some of the most harrowing doom riffs ever committed to tape. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every single song on Dopesick has at least one classic stoner riff. Vocalist/throat destroyer Michael Williams brings self-destructive prose and an artistic lack of self-preservation to the songs. The included lyrics read like violent, minimalist poems, but his screeches and screams make the words completely unintelligible. Even so, the naked emotion of his vocal performance communicates clearer than words ever could.

The songs on Dopesick can basically be divided into two groups. There are the long, slow doom numbers and the shorter punk-influenced songs. The doom songs are all epic, and it’s difficult to pick just a few to highlight. Album opener My Name is God (I Hate You) lets you know exactly what you’re in for. The song starts with tortured screams and a menacing bass intro. After that, all five members hit the same beat and completely bash the listener into submission. A speed crust riff is thrown in; then the song slows for two more minutes of crushing stoner blues. Masters of Legalized Confusion is another riff-o-rama built for busting eardrums and boiling brains. A simple guitar intro begins the proceedings; then the loopy, dirty riff drives the song until the tempo increases. The drums take over, and the song speeds up then slows down again. Ruptured Heart Theory is the album’s centerpiece and undoubtedly one of the band’s greatest achievements. The song, which starts with 35 seconds of guitar feedback, is over four minutes of pure stoner bliss. The song’s tempo creeps, and the guitarists milk the openness for everything that it’s worth. Patton and Bower play off of each other and fill every nook and cranny of this song with noise and heaviness. The song is musically simple, but it ends up completely epic in scope and feel.

Dixie Whiskey is one of the shorter songs on the album. It’s also one of the few tracks that sticks to basically one riff…and what a riff it is. The bouncy drumming and catchy guitar hook give the song a slightly different feel than the slow, doomy numbers that surround it. Non Conductive Negative Reasoning is mid-paced burner with gut-wrenching screams galore, and Methamphetamine is two minutes of catchy southern rock flavored hate.

Sadly, it seems the band’s self destructive nature sometimes overshadows its musical prowess. Member arrests, missed shows and canceled tours have typified the band’s career thus far. Regardless, Dopesick is definitely an album that deserves to be heard and heralded for its contribution to the doom metal scene.

Killing Songs :
Ruptured Heart Theory, Dixie Whiskey, Masters of Legalized Confusion
Phil quoted 92 / 100
Adam quoted 90 / 100
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