Imagine waking up one morning and finding yourself in a random back alley in a city you are not familiar with. You are puzzled, and you feel starving. Doors leading into some buildings are decaying and rotting. Horns from cars blare all around you, with various drivers spitting profanities faintly heard over the city noise. The sky is grey and bleak, shrouded with a cloud of blackened dusk from the smoke stack of a factory. Rats are chewing on garbage all around you. It's essentially a depressive and miserable setting, and you feel hopelessly lost, and frightened. That's what EyeHateGod's "Dopesick" album is like.
EyeHateGod, along with the equally wonderful Melvins, are widely considered as the pioneering act of sludge metal. "Dopesick" is an essentially legendary album that has crafted the path for pretty much every sludge doom act to this day - even the stoney jams of Bongzilla, Electric Wizard, Weedeater, and Ufomammut all pay their respects to EHG. "Dopesick" is often cited as their finest work, and I must agree.
Wikipedia defines sludge metal as "a subgenre of heavy metal that melds elements of doom metal and hardcore punk, and sometimes incorporates influnces from from southern rock, stoner rock and grunge. Sludge metal is typically abrasive; often featuring shouted vocals, heavily distorted instruments and sharply contrasting tempos." If this definition is correct, then EHG's "Dopesick" is the pure definition of sludge metal.
"Dopesick" expertly encompasses the bleak corruption and darkness of modern society with mere music to do the job. EHG's lyrical themes often follow stories of depression, anger, misanthropy, and hatred toward life and modern society. It is saying that humans are worthless, and that we will all just die a miserable, painful death - not as an opinion, but as a menacing, clear statement of fact.
The music on "Dopesick" relies heavily on distortion and guitar feedback. Intros of many of the tracks on this album will feature squealing feedback which sometimes carries itself throughout the song. The drumming is mid-tempo'd, probably not essential to this album's enjoyment, but pleasent just the same. I don't have much to say about the bass, but it has some pretty cool solos here and there. EHG's style of sludge is alot faster than bands like Fleshpress and Cough which feel like massive slogs through the muck of an abandoned swamp, but it's not much faster than that.
The set kicks off with the 5 minute "My Name Is God (I Hate You)". It starts off as a slow, lumbering beast of a song which crushes all your hopes of having a pleasent listen. The song is mainly a monolith of sludgy madness, but halfway through, it explodes into a massive punk rock groove, before introducing some more "Godzilla stomping through city streets" riffs. Chock full of monstrously heavy groovy riffage, it is the perfect opener for the album and a preparation for the massive onslaught that is about to continue.
The vocals are stunning. Vocalist Mike emanates a torturous scream which just burns with so much hate, rage, envy, and every other negative emotion you can think of. They don't seem like singing, or screaming even, but rather, like a mentally enstranged man who has had just about enough screaming for mankind to just wake up.
"Dixie Whiskey" is another highlight, which features some even more intensified aforomentioned screams, a repetitive riff which sounds like a rendition of Sabbath's "Paranoid", and a wonderful hateful atmosphere captured throughout the whole song. The only qualm I have about this song is that it is so short (2:55).
Also, if you happen to have the reissue version, it contains an opus called "Dopesick Jam", a monster of a track which lasts a little over 16 minutes. It is a combination of everything heard previously on the album, and ends the set with a bang.
"Dopesick" is a masterpiece of sludge doom. EyeHateGod revolutionized an amazing genre with their releases. This is essential to anyone who enjoys a good taste of Weedeater, Buzzoven, and Bongzilla. Highly reccomended, and I cannot wait for new material!