We at AMG have a sense of history and like to think we’re in touch with metal’s ancient lore (kindly refrain from jokes about Steel Druhm’s age). With that in mind, we thought it might be fun to highlight notable albums released between twenty and thirty years ago in a new feature we call…YER METAL IS OLDE!
“Across your face/I see what you are/you want to kill the sun/and blot out the stars…” – Acid Bath, “The Blue”
The swamps of Louisiana birthed some pretty damn incredible metal in the mid-1990s. The earth-shaking dirge of Crowbar, the schizophrenic carvings by Soilent Green, and of course one Philip H. Anselmo, all call the Bayou State home. However, one group of teenagers from south of New Orleans would take their obsession for drugs, sex, and serial killers, and craft one of the most impressive debut albums in all of sludge. This is a tribute to Acid Bath‘s 1994 debut, When the Kite String Pops.
Acid Bath were masters of setting up various moods and evoking uncomfortable emotions, and When the Kite String Pops got this point across easily. Thick, grimy bass by the late Audie Pitre, overly fuzzed-out guitars by Mike Sanchez and Sammy Pierre Duet, the plodding drums of Jimmy Kyle… all set the stage for the introductory “The Blue.” Once Dax Riggs opens his mouth, though, the grimy, uncomfortable film that coats your soul begins to gestate and take on a whole new animal, one without regards to feelings, thoughts, and morals. It’s a primal, visceral emotion, amplified by violent lyrics commanding you to eat his dead cock because he could not wake the dead man dreaming.
And that’s just one layer to Dax’s multi-faceted voice and skewed, violent poetry. “Tranquilized” would be one of the few Acid Bath songs that would easily be a hit on the radio if it weren’t for its lyrics calling for you to get high by any means necessary. “Scream of the Butterfly” showcases Dax’s singing ability over watery guitars and Kyle’s frantic double-bass. “Dr. Seuss is Dead,” one of their best songs, crawls out of the sewers and bludgeons you helplessly, with Riggs trading screams with Duet and Pitre. On the flip side, you have almost-lullaby “The Bones of Baby Dolls,” a very vulnerable, beautiful acoustic ballad that would pre-date Dax’s time with Agents of Oblivion, a band he would later share with fellow Acid Bath alum Sanchez, and again with descriptive, off-the-cuff lyrics (“Techno-liquid, screaming meat/heaven’s cold beneath my feet/cyberlove, the anti-man/we make love because we can”).
Twenty years later, this album holds up remarkably well. There isn’t a dull moment to be found on here, between Dax’s acid-stream-of-consciousness lyrics, Duet’s thrashing, or the quieter moments when you’re lulled into a false sense of Southern security. The dirty, fuzzy production given by D.R.I.‘s Spike Cassidy expertly captured the drugged-out, chaotic atmosphere to a swamp-coated T. Add the John Wayne Gacy cover art, and you have psychotic gold.
Acid Bath would release just one more album after this (1996’s Paegan Terrorism Tactics) before ending on a very tragic note with the death of Audie Pitre and most of his family at the hands of a drunken driving asshole. I will be covering that opus at a later date, but as it stands, When the Kite String Pops is one hell of a classic album, and a litmus test for new bands to try to usurp.