A bit of personal trivia: Alabama Thunderpussy‘s Constellation was the first Man’s Ruin Records album I ever bought. It was released in 2000 and I made my purchase directly from the band on their website — it might also have been the first time I did that — sometime after the release of 2001′s also-excellent Staring at the Divine, which was their Relapse debut. I didn’t know much about the label or the band at that point, other than (as per the poster above) they stomped ass and it was worth $10 of my money.
I’ve chronicled my Man’s Ruin buying adventures here pretty extensively, but Constellation has always had a soft spot in my heart, for being the first and for its fearless blend of sentimentality and burly heavy Southern rock. It’s not just any band that would put “Six Shooter” and “15 Minute Drive” on the same record. Still, I probably hadn’t listened to it in a few years even before ATP broke up after releasing the more metallic Open Fire in 2007 with Kyle Thomas from Exhorder on vocals, and as has happened a couple times by now (see here, here, here and here, for starters), finding the promo for sale on the relative cheap provided a good chance to reintroduce myself to the album.
The first thing that sticks out about it — especially in the context of what’s come since from Virginia and the surrounding area — is how forward thinking it is. A lot of the distinct guitar crunch from Erik Larson and Asechaih Bogdan and the sans-reverb vocals of Johnny Throckmorton you can hear in the sludge coming out of that area now from the likes of Lord and a few like-minded acts also not shy about bringing melody into the mix.
As much as cuts like “Ambition,” “Burden” and the organ-infused “Foul Play” rock as straightforwardly as possible, the acoustics of “Obsari” and the more airy feel of “1271-3106″ do more than just change things up. There’s a direct effect on mood and the overall tone of the album that lasts right into the intro of “Keepsake” and the extended weird-out jam of “Country Song.” I guess it’s not necessarily that I didn’t realize these things were happening on the record before, although I’d believe that too, but with the additional time since its release — it’ll be 12 years come March — there’s been a real chance for the record to ferment. Constellation goes down like fine aged moonshine, and proves no less blinding.
If you’re interested, click the picture on the left above to enlarge it and read the bio. Believe it.
Tags: Alabama Thunderpussy, Man's Ruin, Richmond, Virginia