What do you get if you take the riffs of Black Sabbath, the Hardcore aggression of Black Flag, mix in a relentless assault of guitar feedback, a dash of voodoo and a vocalist who sounds like he’s retching up shards of glass, vodka and a stomach full of herion, all under the glare of the New Orleans sun? Well, EYEHATEGOD obviously.
Since the band’s formation in the late 80s EYEHATEGOD have battled through death, addiction, organ failure, prison, a hurricane, and a revolving door of bass players, but like Tony ‘the Boogeyman’ Ferguson they just keep coming. At the turn of the century it was looking like we wouldn’t see any new releases from the band, but the past seven years have seen two new albums and with the band’s first four studio albums being recently reissued on vinyl, this seemed like just the right time to pay homage to NOLA’s finest.
My own exposure to EYEHATEGOD came around 2001. Having first got into Pantera, I gradually found my way into Down and Crowbar and other related NOLA bands. EYEHATEGOD however was just too abrasive for my ears at the time. In the end though I succumbed to the inevitable gruesome attraction and the band have become one of my absolute favourites.
The briefest glimpse of their early album covers will make it clear before you’ve heard a note that what lies in store is some seriously ugly music, and they’re damn loud too. The last gig I went to before the Covid apocalypse hit was EYEHATEGOD supporting Napalm Death in Prague. I remember going to the bar with my friends before Napalm Death came on and we were all half deafened. Thanks guys. Anyway, here’s a look at the band from record to record.
In The Name of Suffering (Century Media) 1992
Showcasing the gritty, noisy, rotten EYEHATEGOD aesthetic that the band wouldn’t so much refine over the years as allow to fester; the heavily downtuned guitars of Jimmy Bower and Marc Schultz, waves of distortion, Steve Dale’s nimble, doomy bass grooves, Joe LaCaze’s loose and agile drumming and Mike IX Williams’ rasping, strangled vocals (his distinctive ghuuahh may be almost as recognisable as Layne Staley’s yeaahhh, or Tom G Warrior’s ugghh) set the template the band has more or less stuck to over the following 30+ years. It’s bluesy and noisy, part Doom, part Hardcore; Melvins are a clear reference point as is the grim, harshness of frequent touring partners of the time Buzzov*en. One feature that would be gone by the next record is some occasional lead guitar noodling (see the opening track Depress and Left to Starve). Otherwise, the band wouldn’t deviate much from this style next time around. Grizzly highlights include the gnarled Shinobi and the appropriately titled Hostility Dose. Oh yeah, and if you want to follow what Mike is “singing”, good luck with that, as the band’s frontman has indicated in interviews that he took the approach early on to present the lyric sheets as a kind of surrealist collage. The lyrics are in there, but figuring out which song they fit to is a whole other matter.
Take as Needed for Pain (Century Media) 1993
With some of the band’s most immediate (as well as provocatively titled) tracks, like Sister Fucker and White Nigger, plus tighter arrangements and a beefier, more muscular sound, Take as Needed for Pain seems like a step up from the band’s debut in all regards. Still the grim, drug and alcohol worldview presented by Mike IX remains largely the same and while the term Sludge may have been carved out for EYEHATEGOD as much as for any other band, Mike IX states in the liner notes that he always thought of the band as making Southern Hardcore Blues and that seems apt. As the vocalist says, this is “drug-addled, alcohol soaked Blues” and with Mike being essentially homeless during the recording of the album, what more could you need to play the blues? Woman gone, nowhere to go, a head full of drugs and booze and a violent, neglected past. Needless to say, while this is a tighter set of recordings than the band’s debut, this is still raw, abrasive and noisy as hell. Possibly the most accessible record the band put out for at least 20 years and that’s not very accessible at all. The fact that many of these tracks remain staples of the band’s live set shows the quality of this record and that the band feels equally enthusiastic about it after all these years.
Dopesick (Century Media) 1996
In case anyone was thinking after the previous album that the band was on an inevitable trajectory of becoming slicker and more refined… think again fuckers! Released three years after the band’s second album, Dopesick is as grim and fucked up as the title suggests. Including too perhaps the band’s most disturbing artwork (and that is saying something), this is also a lumbering beast of an album, going more down the Doom road with altogether less Hardcore elements to be heard. While many of the songs here might be less immediate than on the last record, Dopesick does feature top tier classics like Dixie Whiskey, while final track Anxiety Hangover shows Neurosis were clearly influenced, that mid-track riff clearly being later repurposed. As a whole the album gets better with each repeated listen. This might also be the band at their sonically heaviest; the signature wailing feedback is still present, but the riffs are doomier, sludgier and heavier than ever. However grim it gets though, you can always depend on the band to maintain their twisted sense of humour, as evident in the liner notes: “All work property of Eyehategod… Do not even think about ripping us off, unless you plan to use your powers to overthrow established society and condemn all authority figures to a life of incarceration & torutre… Peace thru addiction”
Confederacy of Ruined Lives (Century Media) 2000
For their fourth studio album the band steered into a more Hardcore/Southern Rock direction, still unmistakably EYEHATEGOD, from the ringing feedback, to the downtuned riffs, to Mike IX’s eternal ghuuahh. The tempo here is mostly back to the mid-paced chugging of Take as Needed for Pain, after the band really fed their Doom demon on the previous album. Although this album probably doesn’t plot new terrains as much as the previous ones (more using templates the band had already laid down) this is a very enjoyable EYEHATEGOD album and one I listen to often. From the churning opener Revelation / Revolution to the rabid Jack Ass In the Will of God the band sound as fired up as ever. Also, you gotta love that album title and the artwork, and Last Year (She Wanted a Doll House), there’s just something so brilliantly bleak about that track.
Eyehategod (Century Media) 2014
After a fourteen year gap, punctuated by the devastation of hurricane Katrina (which Mike IX lived through first hand), the band miraculously returned with a set of songs as strong as anything they’d recorded to this point. With crisp production (still noisy as hell to be sure) and some great, memorable riffs, the Hardcore leanings of the band shine through on this release. Agitation! Propaganda! and Medicine Noose are undeniably catchy, while the seven plus minutes of Flags and Cities Bound, carried by a great, gloomy bassline on a sea of feedback, with Mike narrating his dark, abstract poetry is a real standout of the band’s catalogue. While the vocal delivery is still strangled and raw, you can actually make out some of Mike’s lyrics this time round in contrast to previous albums. For the uninitiated this could be a good place to start and it’s probably the EYEHATEGOD record I choose to put on most often. I don’t want to say this is a more mature incarnation of the band, but here the band does seem to be rather less… narcotically inspired let’s say. Tragically longtime drummer Joe LaCaze died of respiratory failure prior to release of the album, though the drumming here is all still his. It should also be mentioned that two years prior to the album’s release the band put out a single track 7” single New Orleans is the New Vietnam. It doesn’t appear on the album, but it’s a great advertisement for the band and well worth checking out.
A History of Nomadic Behaviour (Century Media) 2021
Seven years after their self-titled return (that’s a 100% improvement in turnaround time) EYEHATEGOD put out their sixth studio album and the first with new drummer Aaron Hill (after the untimely passing of Joe LaCaze). This would also be the first album with the band trimmed down to a four piece, with longtime second guitarist Brian Patton having chosen to exit prior to the album’s recording. The album also continues the band’s tradition of having a new bass player with each record. On top of all this, Mike IX had undergone a critical liver transplant several years earlier. This is the band that cannot be stopped. In keeping with the 2014 release, this incarnation of the band is about as tight and efficient as they’ve been. Though still noisy and belligerent, the sprawling Doom days of Dopesick are a distant memory at this stage and while you’ll still hear some familiar jaundiced bass line, the brief instrumental interlude Smoker’s Piece aside, there aren’t really any bass driven tracks like the band would deliver on their early releases. Nonetheless there’s still plenty of great, noisy Hardcore Blues here like Fake What’s Yours, High Risk Trigger and the gloriously nihilistic closer Every Thing, Every Day. Not everyone seems to be fully onboard with being able to actually make out Mike IX’s delivery on this release, but hey, his lyrics are great and for anyone hankering after the band at their murkiest, Dopesick will always be there for you, like a rotting comfort blanket.
Should you find yourself hankering after more noisy, nihilistic nourishment you might also want to check out 2000’s Southern Discomfort, which brings together various non-album singles, outtakes and split releases from the band’s 90s output. 10 Years of Abuse (and still broke) from 2001 combines early demos, live radio recordings from 1994 and various live recordings from the band’s 2000 European tour. Preaching the “End-Time” Message meanwhile, collects alternate recordings, more split single recordings, live tracks and demos. I THINK THAT’S ENOUGH!
R.I.P. Joseph Monroe LaCaze 1971-2013
(From the band’s website): Donations can now be made to the Joseph M. LaCaze Memorial Fund for his daughter Lilith LaCaze through PayPal….!!!
Users can now log into PayPal then send money to this address: email@example.com and click on “I’m sending money to family or friends”
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.