Since picking up Endsville, a split EP of Godhunter and Destroyer of Light material, it has come to my attention that Tucson-based Godhunter is getting quite the buzz these days. Hailing from my old stomping ground, I’ve had a few run-ins with these guys and even shared a beer (or six) with keyboardist/cellist Matt Davis back when he was with the now synth-less Our Daily Trespasses. Last year’s Godhunter debut (City of Dust) hit me like a ton of bricks with its sludgy, doomy, desert-choked delivery and its passionate hate for the politics of Arizona. While it does have flaws, City of Dust is the dark, depressing soundtrack to Arizona. With topics ranging from the frustrations of rising unemployment rates, the devastating forest fires in the desert mountains, the issues at the Mexican-American border, and months of relentless heat, their music cuts to the bone. Being an Arizona native, I get this shit and it leaves me in a state of utter despair. However, I feared these dudes wouldn’t be able to top the passion conveyed on their debut. It’s now a year later and these desert rats have called-out Austin-based Destroyer of Light to a duel for the title of sludgiest band in the Southwest (Spoiler Alert: Texas doesn’t have shit on Arizona).
“End Time Blues” opens Endsville with beautiful guitar and cello work analogous to City of Dust‘s “Shooting Down The Sun” and adds in the depressing swamp mud of Acid Bath. From here, “Divided States” throws us straight to the javelinas. With a crushing chomp and broken skin, Godhunter snorts its way through some sludgy Down riffage and delivers the signature punkish, The Ocean-esque cleans and deathy growls of vocalists Charlie Touseull and David Rodgers (who are on their fucking game here). As “Divided States” closes with doomy psychedelics, “Dull Knives, Weak Handshakes” opens with them. Effects give-way as the song careens through a pre-chorus as venomous as a diamondback and a hookiness in line with early Mastodon. However, the Mastodonian “Cassandra Complex” tops is predecessor in Mastodon and Down worship before Side A takes a tangent through upbeat, punky territories with the overly addicting “Anthropophobia.” And just when it feels like we are having fun, closer “The Emptiness That Is Left” pops in and trumps it with more deep-sighing guitar and cello. After these haunting chords come to an end, we are thrown right back into the Desert of Sorrow with a viciously dark rendition of Nirvana‘s “Something In The Way.” A perfect way to close out the first half of Endsville.
As Destroyer of Light‘s “Electric Shadows” opens Side B, it becomes abundantly clear that a more straightforward doom sound occupies the second half of this split. With a 2012 self-titled release and collection of bizarre doom extensions on 2014’s Bizarre Tales Vol. 2, DoL showcase a greater maturity in songwriting and improved performances on Endsville. For this new release, Steve Colca’s “whiny” vocals (reminiscent of older material from fellow Austin doomers, The Sword) are much improved, the production is cleaner, and the songwriting avoids the meandering of the debut. “Electric Shadows” puts all of this together to deliver a slow-banging plod and an ending that can only be described as a doomy rendition of Motorhead‘s “Overkill.” A stellar opener for the Texans but follow-up “Coffin Hunter” brings the house down. Taken from their debut and revamped, “Coffin Hunter” slithers along with chunky guitars and sinister vox before crushing all of humanity with one of the best doom riffs I’ve ever heard and some monstrous guest death vox to seal the lid. “Valley of the Dead” utilizes a similar design and nastiness to close out Endsville, but “Coffin Hunter” just can’t be beat. We also get a cover of Pentagram‘s “Forever My Queen” but it hinders more than helps the back side of the record.
Overall, these bands are really coming into their own, and while I enjoy Godhunter‘s slab of doom more than Destroyer of Light, many fans will get something from both sides of Endsville. For me, I rediscovered a band that speaks to me deeply and with these two bands hitting the road together, it can’t hurt for everyone to catch up on their current events.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3