Sounds like a douchebag thing to say, I know, but whoever pissed off Richmond, VA/Brooklyn, NY‘s Throttlerod, I’m really glad they did it. Their first two albums, 2000′s Eastbound and Down and 2003′s Hell and High Water get high praise because of their southern attitude and triple-hops rock, but with 2006′s Nail and now even more with their new full-length, Pig Charmer (Small Stone), they move into furious noise-laden riffs and a melodic catharsis that would make Unsane blush.
Bassist/producer Andrew Schneider, who joined before Nail, might have something to do with it. The Brooklyn contingent in the trio, his presence has lent new intensity and though their songwriting has managed to maintain its structure, Throttlerod sound like a band working out a heavy emotional release, with the vocals of guitarist Matt Whitehead alternating between a capable croon and abrasive shouts, all while Schneider gets the best of his six-string tone and of Kevin White‘s drumming as he’s done for the likes of Cave In, Puny Human, Hackman and many, many more. Even the heaviest of the tracks, early cut “Hum” or the later, feedback-drenched “Dink,” keep their heads melodically and Pig Charmer is all the better for it. Without sounding overly commercial or falling into formulaic clean/harsh singing tradeoffs, Throttlerod offer ballsy sonic diversity in a skin-peeling context full of passion and densely pressed onto plastic.
Songs stick mostly in the three-to-four minute range with variations up and down, and though the deeper end of Pig Charmer‘s second half — right around “The Sweetness” and “Where’s Josh?” following the catchy “Rider” — can begin to lag, at just under 45 minutes, the record doesn’t stick around long enough to really induce boredom. The softer, grunge semi-balladry of middle cut “Jigsaw” provides a break from the riff-led beatdown, if temporarily, and the soothing guitar lines of closer “Majors,” though darker and used more as a build portending the heaviness to come, speak to a structural ethic of ending each side with a shift in the sound. Even unto their start-stop riffs, the two songs share multiple commonalities.
But if they are the change, the greater portion of Pig Charmer is red-faced frustration and expertly delivered cacophony, never out of control but sounding unhinged nonetheless. As they see their first decade of existence through, Throttlerod may have undergone a substantial stylistic rebirth, but if they’re in a much different place now than they were even six years ago, it’s a place I’m more than willing to follow them. Heavy, heavy, heavy, without bowing to expectations either way. Uncompromised, Throttlerod deliver yet again.
Tags: Brooklyn, Richmond, Small Stone, Throttlerod