Their team may be down in the World Series as of Nov. 3 (Cliff Lee can?t pitch ?em all), but Philadelphia?s finest purveyors of thickened thrash, Javelina, are just hitting their stride. On their second offering for Translation Loss, Beasts among Sheep, they rip, tear, growl, feedback and scream their way through eight tracks (nine if you count the bonus) of righteous workingman?s fury, with just enough doom awareness to keep away from being a basement version of Slayer or whichever modern Slayer clone you?d want to compare them to.
They?re like Thrash Sabbath.
Even on opener ?You?re Gonna Hate This? — probably named for the 30 seconds of abrasive feedback that starts the album — Javelina show a heightened awareness of melody as the guitars of Chubbrock and Mike B. come together to harmonize a riff at top speed. Both guitarists and bassist Herb handle vocals, leaving only drummer Erik mic-less, so there is no shortage of changes or variety in the approach, though all three singers handle screams. The tactic is most effective on tracks like middle cut ?Arcadia,? where the voices combine or run in and out of each other, making the most of the differences between everyone?s individual contributions.
If you heard Javelina?s self-titled debut, which came out last year, then you should have a basic idea of what to expect, but where the four-piece excels is in an even-tighter presentation of the material. Beasts among Sheep was recorded at Chicago?s Volume Studios by (none other than) Sanford Parker, so the clarity of the production should go without saying, but Javelina keep a ferociously aggressive live feel to victorious riffs like that around which ?A Little Paranoia Goes a Long Way? is based, and the groove resulting is all the more headbang-worthy for it.
And it?s not there all the time, but when the doom shows up, it?s in the southern style; a sudden left turn smack into a monstrous slowed down riff that seems to eat the planet and all the antimatter surrounding. You can hear it after the solo on the short ?Black Blizzard,? but even that?s just a teaser for what?s to immediately follow on album highlight ?Playing the Nuclear Option,? which makes the most of a speed contrast in the form of classic stoner riffing and a mounting tension resolved when the pace kicks up once the song is more than halfway over. You want pickslides? They got pickslides.
?Playing the Nuclear Option? leads directly into ?Beware the Wrath of the Patient Man,? which more directly plays the two essential aspects of the band?s personality off each other. It seems this is what Beasts among Sheep has been building toward, but the journey to get there was no less satisfying than the payoff at the end. Javelina take what?s best about acts like Black Cobra (the intensity) and High on Fire (the riffs) and put them together to create one of the most pissed off approaches in the heavy underground today. Their second album is like a parade honoring Freud?s death instinct, and the triumphant feedback that closes it, hidden track notwithstanding, echoes the ?You?re Gonna Hate This? beginning in challenging you to dig into what they?ve done to your consciousness. So go ahead, if you think you?re up to it.
Tags: Javelina, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Translation Loss