Imagine if the Melvins got together with Until Your Heart Stops-era Cave-In and cut an album with the members of Neurosis, then maybe you might have something as wholly unique as Cleveland’s Keelhaul. Molasses-filled obtuse rhythms, floating angular Cave-In lead guita, and all the succinctness a band such as Neurosis brings to the table generates II, a tractor-pulling semi-truck accident in the making. Taking the tender philosophies of the groove to transcendent levels, the band drips with unmatched sludgy violence. The 45-second grind of “Unwound” is a friction-filled Ford V-12 engine of sublime madness — thick and gory, just the way we want it. “360” sounds like someone’s first day of combat on the Eastern Front of WWII, as percussive bullets drop bodies to the ground, while soldiers scurry through thick slabs of muddy death on route to dive-bomb guitars and screaming generals, demanding glorified sacrifice. As the song gels to a near-standstill, so does the listener’s awareness of the violence surrounding them. Then suddenly, the Discharge-inspired crustiness of “Some Day Some Other Place” explodes into disharmonic perspective before taking us into the instrumental dirge, “New Void.” Eyehategod, the Melvins, and even touches of Badmotorfinger Soundgarden meet to spin a venomous web of sludgecore glory. Drummer Scharf takes the same approach on “Practicing,” a cymbal guided doom missile that crushes dreams and eardrums alike. His loose, cantankerous style firmly places him at the peak of this sometimes overtly sloppy genre. “39f” sounds like a hybrid of a Neurosis version of a leftover Entombed “Clandestine” outtake. Complete with crash vocals, Nicke-styled drumming, esoteric atmosphere, and down-tuned groove-sniffing guitars, the experiment is a full success. Closer “LWM” is a Southern rock jam track (these guys are from Cleveland?) full of enough piss and vinegar to drop a moonshine-swigging mountain man. Pure masterful genius is one way to describe Keelhaul. ~ Jason Hundey
Keelhaul: Dallison (vocals, guitar, bass); Smith (vocals, guitar); Embrose (bass); Scharf (drums).