Wolf Eyes
Burned Mind
2004
A-



what the fuck is going on? These Wolf Eyes have flipped the music industry coin and it's definitely tails up now. This shit isn't supposed to happen. Labels like Sub Pop aren't supposed to catch on to this heavy underground shit until 30 years after the fact. Jane Magazine isn't supposed to review it EVER. It doesn’t matter what they thought. The Old Testament clearly states they were never to hear it. Are you people losing it or am I in some fever dream?

Still unfamiliar with Wolf Eyes? Okay. Cut off a pinkie finger, play a Skinny Puppy record at half speed, drink some of that raw-egg stuff Holk Hogan was all about and you're halfway there. Or just download it if you're particularly weak-stomached. Either way, here's a brief history of slime: One man (Nate Young), two men (Young and Aaron Dilloway), then three men (Young, Dilloway and John Olson). Two DIY labels (Hanson Records and American Tapes) self-release nine thousand tapes. Bulb puts out a record. Troubleman puts out a record. Kinship with Sonic Youth (actually started long before any of this) and Black Dice get the message to the people. Sub Pop signs them, releases a 12" that quickly sells out (a few copies to resurface later) and now follows with Burned Mind.

And it's Burned Mind that's got everyone's panties in their ears. (Hey, sometimes you have to improvise.) "Sick" is an understatement. Just as the Wolf boys have completely changed the face of (stabbed it?) the noise scene, their latest offering has made compost of their own discography and presented the band in a whole new darkness. It's crisper and clearer, but simultaneously thicker and murkier than before. The album isn't just dense, it's bloated—in the very best sense of the word.

If the album has one fault, it's that it starts with the most brutal material and gets more accessible throughout. I could care less, but the new listeners that will hear this because of the Sub Pop name might jump the gun on the stop button and that'd be a shame. After the initial dark ambience "Dead in a Boat" spontaneously combusts and blazes anew, the lead-off single "Stabbed in the Face" jumps right in, ferociously swinging butcher knives like a mutant hybrid of Muhammad Ali and Jason Voorhees. It pummels. It hurts. Then it really hurts. And it doesn't cease. Wolf Eyes' "Death by A Thousand Cuts" technique—and this attack is precise; certainly not your plug-in-and-go noise—continues through track after track of tape decay, feedback and cross-eyed beats until the title cut.

"Burned Mind" is no doubt the highlight, a brilliant choice for the title track. It brings to light everything that is Wolf Eyes, it's 25 BPM thumps accented with light and chirpy, almost playful, accompaniment. After three minutes, a perfectly placed half-second of silence shuts everything up and lets just the right amount of tension seep in before the most powerful bass and noise combination flies out fiercer than anything that preceded it. After it’s all over, I can’t hear. I can’t think. But if I try really hard I think I can maybe wiggle a toe.

This stuff is heavy. I can’t lie and say it’s for everyone, but anyone reading this should be able to hear the light. Like the metal gods they’re often compared to, these Michigan smokers are 124% sincere and 162% capable of seeing it’s all a sham. Titles like "Black Vomit" or "Urine Burn" aren’t mere foolishness, but instead the epitome of all that is Wolf Eyes: morbid and funny, intelligent and grotesque, violent and light-hearted; all at once, never canceling each other out. For all their scathing noise, these are still guys who worship Manowar, who dance with brooms and know more about Brazilian psych rock than just about anyone. They are as layered as their noise. One minute they’re Jack The Ripper, the next they’re your older brother lovingly punching you in the spine. Open your ears and embrace the blow.

STYLUSMAGAZINE.COM’S ALBUM OF THE WEEK – OCTOBER 4 – OCTOBER 10, 2004



Reviewed by: Mike Shiflet
Reviewed on: 2004-10-04
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