January 22, 2011 by hhbrady
What we have here is… a problem I call the Metalli-Wizard Conundrum.
It’s this: do you judge a new record by an established artist based purely on the album itself, or based on how it compares to previous (great) releases by that artist?
The conundrum, or “the ‘nun” as I call it, is named for (duh) Metallica and/or Electric Wizard, both of whom have stellar, nay, world-changing records in their discography, but have then released albums that, while good in some cases, aren’t anywhere even near the caliber of said great records.
Obviously, you don’t need my help with the Metallica comparison: I actually liked Reload, but only after I stopped thinking of it as a Metallica album and just enjoyed it as an above-average rock record. Same with St. Anger: if you listen to it as if it were from a new band, you get “Man, this album is odd. Where will these guys go with this?” Whereas, listening to it as a Metallica record, you think “Holy Shit, how the hell did these guys get here?”
As with Electric Wizard. I don’t care how it’s reviewed now, with everyone squealing in delight over the new Black Masses– it’s a good album if by a new band, but compared to Dopethrone? Nuh-uh. Every other critic is masturbating his/herself over Black Masses, but it’s only because EW release albums so rarely. Once it sinks in in a few months, people will realize that it’s just a regular old cracker:
Which brings us to Jason… the Dragon.
As succinctly as possible: by itself, it’s an awesome (some of the awesomeness in the promise of what this band could do) dirty, utterly sludgy (no surpise: Dixie Dave Collins was in seminal sludge band Buzzov*en), distinctly southern, bowel-rumbling bear of a record.
Don’t get me wrong: if the tags stoner, sludge or doom mean anything to you, you should pick this up, and so quickly.
Maybe it’s my problem. Maybe imagination is the destroyer.
I just expected more. In listening to Jason… I went back and listened to their previous record, God Luck and Good Speed, just to make sure my memories weren’t stained by nostalgia. They weren’t.
Jason… is essentially a variation on God Luck…. Almost like when jazz players release 25 live versions of their work. That’s perfectly acceptable there, indeed, it’s a pivotal part of jazz: how many versions of a melody can one make? How inventive can a player get?
Unfortunately, the test of jazz artists (to me) is a little bit compositional skill, and 95% improvisational ability. They’re making new versions of old songs on the spot.
Weedeater have made, with Jason… the Dragon, a cool variation of God Luck and Good Speed. Unfortunately, they took a long damn time in the studio to do it. No points for improv.
Like Metallica did* with Ride/Puppets/Justice, there is seemingly a Weedeater “record blueprint”: a couple of (filler) songs that are short, around a minute, and mostly feedback; two acoustic numbers; and several stomps that will rule you and your loved ones and are effing totally effing awesome. (And deserving of two effings.)
The title track is a crushing number that sways back and forth, like an oil tanker threatening to fall over, yet never going. Palms of Opium is one of the aforementioned acoustic numbers where Dixie Dave’s raspy Tom Waits-ish voice works perfectly.
If only the whole album were as good as these two…?
*First song starts acoustically, but eventually becomes a really fast thrasher; second song long title track, third song slower, usually detuned, fourth song acoustic ballad, last song full-out thrasher from start to finish, etc.