Acid Bath - Paegan Terrorism TacticsFull admission: this is easily one of the toughest Yer Metal is Olde! pieces I have written so far. It’s not so much the flood of memories that comes with the recollection of a particular album’s impact on myself, let alone other music fans. But rather, unlike most inductees, there is a major “What if?” scenario that plays in my head whenever I spin Paegan Terrorism Tactics, the second (and final) album by Louisiana’s bipolar sludge/doom gods Acid Bath. Unlike their contemporaries, who would either abruptly change styles, disband, or ride their influences into the horizon, Acid Bath‘s journey was cut short due to the untimely death of bassist Audie Pitre who, along with members of his family, was killed by a drunk driver on January 23rd, 1997. Even then, you have to wonder, given the material on Paegan Terrorism Tactics, if the band would have released another record.

That’s not to say that Paegan Terrorism Tactics was a horrible album. Far from it, in fact. Their debut (and fellow YMIO inductee), 1994’s When the Kite String Pops, blew our minds with its sludgy riffing, abrupt style changes between (and even within) songs, and drugged out stream-of-consciousness lyrics screamed and crooned by vocalist Dax Riggs. Acid Bath took that sound, reined it in a bit, and crafted 12 songs1 ranging in moods so drastically different that it feels like two separate bands working together. What remained was the core line-up, cover art by a controversial figurehead (in this case, by Dr. Jack Kevorkian), and the suffocatingly sludgy atmosphere. And yet, miraculously, Paegan Terrorism Tactics works, and works beautifully in all of its ugly, sinister glory.

You can even trace the birth of not one, but two bands with this album. “Locust Spawning,” easily the most black metal-influenced song Acid Bath would ever write, wouldn’t sound so out-of-place on guitarist Sammy Duet’s post-Acid Bath band, Goatwhore until the spacey mid-section hits. Elsewhere, the acoustic “Dead Girl,” showcasing the improvement in Riggs’ singing voice, would later be reworked by his post-Acid Bath project, Agents of Oblivion. But the best example of the two distinctly different worlds colliding to form a truly transcendent song belongs to “Venus Blue.” Duet and fellow guitarist Mike Sanchez crafted a near lullaby with their strumming and chord structures, whereas drummer Jimmy Kyle provides a solid, sturdy backbone. Riggs’ voice carries the song to such elevated heights that it became Acid Bath‘s calling card. In fact, if it weren’t for the violent lyrics (“Slow desolation like a funeral procession/The lovely one screams like she’s caught between stations/I eat the razor, a mouthful of God’s flesh/Sweating this blackness, I am shitting this cold death”), “Venus Blue” could have easily played on the radio.

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And just as When the Kite String Pops was massively influential and beloved, so too was Paegan Terrorism Tactics. In fact, on the many occasions when I talked to people about Acid Bath, whether online or face-to-face, and we asked each other what our top five favorite songs of theirs were, we would all have radically different answers. The beauty of it was, quite simply, none of us were wrong. From the schizophrenic energy of the debut through the controlled sludge of Paegan, the hypnotic pull created by Acid Bath is otherworldly and intoxicating. I can’t even begin to think of another band’s output that even comes close to it. The mark they left with just two albums (and a collection of demos) was immeasurable and enviable.

But even if Pitre were still alive, given the rumored in-fighting and different influences, the likelihood of another Acid Bath album was doubtful. Still, I would have gleefully preferred that scenario over the one that unfortunately transpired. Even more painful are the near-yearly rumors of the surviving members putting aside their differences, and working on new music – a rumor that has has been debunked time and again by the members themselves. But as a friend put it, Acid Bath were lightning in a bottle, and that lightning crafted two albums that were absolutely near-perfect. We will always have them to cherish, now and forever.2

 

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I count the hidden spoken word piece at the end, “The Beautiful Downgrade,” as a song.
  2. It’s a shame that, no matter how many people put up videos of their songs on Youtube or Soundscloud, Rotten Records are quick to pull them down. Rotten would do the world a huge service by introducing a new wave of metalheads to the ingenuity, intensity, and amazing songwriting of Acid Bath and Agents of Oblivion.
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  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    Acid Bath was the best. Very glad to see this album get a Yer Metal is Olde. Also question for anyone with more intel than me, is Dax gonna release a new solo album in the near future? Say Goodnight to the World was amazing and I would love to see a follow-up soon.

    • GardensTale

      Great album indeed. See You In Hell Or New Orleans is a depressive masterpiece in particular.

      Last place I heard Dax actually surprised me: the theme for iZombie. Not his usual down trodden fair.

      • Grymm

        Huh?! Wow. I never would have pegged Dax doing that#

        • GardensTale

          Well, it wasn’t made for iZombie, that album (Deadboy & The Elephantmen’s “We are the Night Sky”) is from 2006 , but I hadn’t heard of it before the show, so hearing his voice there was unexpected.

    • Luke_22

      He has been very quiet on the recording front, hoping he hasn’t given up the recording game just yet.

    • Grymm

      We are due for a new one, that’s for sure.

      I love his voice and music.

  • Diego Molero

    Didn’t even know that this band existed. What a shame about the label taking all the videos down. Though I just looked on Youtube and there is a song called “Toubabo Koomi”, it’s from the other album, but at least it’s something. I listen to it, and I like it

    • gus rodrigues

      Same here. Never knew about this band. Listened a preview of the songs at iTunes and enjoyed what I heard. Bought it afterwards…

  • GardensTale

    Acid Bath is great. Creepy, unsettling, and so good at switching from soothing and smooth to harsh and cutting. Kite String was one of the first albums I ever reviewed, back when I wrote for Global Domination. I never really got into PTT. Maybe this review is a signal to go through it again. Wonderful review.

  • Roquentin

    I adore Acid Bath. Both of their records are among my all-time favourites. Thanks for writing this.

  • Luke_22

    Man I would find it so difficult to put Acid Bath’s legacy into words, so well done on a great write-up Grymm. It’s always hard figuring out which album I prefer but in the end they are both timeless masterpieces and personally Acid Bath were hugely influential in developing my own extreme tastes and kickstarting my infatuation with the NOLA metal scene.

  • Eli Valcik

    Do you guys plan to do a “Yer Metal is Olde” piece on Windir’s “1184?” It’s one of my favorite albums and I’m curious to read your guy’s thoughts on it.

    • Diego Molero

      Love that album too. But it was released on 2001, so it’s 16 this year. I believe the “rule” is 5,10,15,20,25 and so on… That being said, this album (Paegan Terrorism Tactics) is from 96′, so it turns 21 this year, so I don’t know if the “rule” is still a “rule”.
      Anyway, would love to read an article about 1184 on this website.

      • Grymm

        It was ready to be published back in early December, but got released today. Many lists and TYMHMs took the spots.

  • Alexandre Barata

    You can always use metal-tracker torrents to listen to the albums of both bands ;)

    Great album anyways, really a shame that the project was cut so early. It would probably be one of the greatest names on the doom/sludge!

  • Dead1

    Never heard Acid Bath and was put off from listening to them cause the only fan I knew who was into them was an ecstasy popping, speed snorting trendy guy who thought Wolfmother were great cause they sounded like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple but he didn’t like those bands….
    This review has made me intrigued. I’ll try to hunt them down and check them out.

  • James Mills

    Dammit, I love Acid Bath! This definitely takes me back to my high school days when I discovered them, and was totally blown away by their blackness mixed with such lush melody, and Dax’s voice was the centerpiece, no question. His style was like Jim Morrison had gone to hell and came back determined to obliterate mankind. Bleak imagery and terrifying poetry throughout. I can’t get into Goatwhore but I’ve loved everything Dax has ever done. Saw him live in San Francisco doing a solo gig once, and he seemed so uncomfortable in front of the audience that I remember thinking, this guy will never be a huge success, even though he deserves to be. I’m convinced he’s from another planet. Anyway, anyone who hasn’t heard AB yet, I’m jealous – you’re about to discover a great band.

  • Treble Yell

    is it weird that I adore When the Kitestring Pops and Dax Riggs’ solo work yet I’ve never listened to Paegan Terrorist Tactics? I should probably rectify this. Great write up.

  • Lavatron

    I remember listening to this record while falling asleep. I awoke again, first it was all silent and then suddenly this creepy voice started. It got even spookier the next day, as I could not find that part again. Later I discovered that it was in the prefix of one of the songs, but does not play when you skip through them.
    It really horrified me at that time.

  • Wow Grymm, I have never heard of Acid Bath. -1 for Alex’s metal cred.

    • Grymm

      And this is why Rotten Records needs to either do a BETTER job of promoting their bands, or just suck it up and let the fans upload videos of their music. They would end up making better sales because people WILL buy their music.

      You are far from the only one there, Alex. Glad that I could turn you on to them, though!

      • Oh, no, no, no, no. You got it all wrong. They should only sell CDs. No YouTube. No streaming. That’s the future you know. Get with the program.

  • Chigo

    This is one of my favorite albums. Growing up on alt/”grunge” rock, this album with it’s dark grunge elements was one of my “gateway drugs” for the transition to metal (along with gunge-tinged stuff like the Melvins and alt-ish stuff like Deftones and Tool). Glad to see it getting some love here from the Grymmster!

  • Chigo

    Also, I mentioned this in the When the Kite Strong Pops YMIO comments, but again just in case – if you are considering buying this album and care about sound quality, I’d recommend checking the release dates to ensure you are getting the original 1996 master over the 2010 remaster. The new one isn’t terrible, but it is louder and brighter – the original is pretty dynamic and has a fuller, warmer sound. I don’t have the DR numbers in front of me but can post back later this evening in case anyone is interested.

    • Chigo

      DR 11 for the original, DR 6 for the remaster.

  • Dead1

    So checked these guys out on Youtube- damn this is some good shit.
    This is what the mid-1990s were about -genre bending madness. And still riffy and aggressive as hell!

  • h_f_m

    Man I love When the Kite String Pops. That album is SO GOOD. It’s still one of the albums I always carry in my storage when I switch phones.

  • DeathComesRipping

    They record label needs to go straight to hell.

  • Steve Lafontaine

    How dumb does a record label have to be in this day and age to take all of a bands stuff down from youtube? Especially an underground band like Acid Bath. There is no better word of mouth than youtube.

    Graveflower is one of the most beautiful metal songs ever written.

  • Vassago Gamori

    “We smoke the toenails and hair of the wiseman
    under a black god’s thumb,
    we dance like painted puppets,
    she bleeds orgasm in technicolor,
    an ocean of alien mystery,
    we eat the wiseman’s eyes
    for sight that we might
    see the darkness if we kill
    the lights fast enough,
    we eat the brain and pray
    that our eyes can open wide enough,
    we burn the dry shell, a funeral chant,
    the pulse quickens and we dance
    as the blossoms fall,
    a scattering of dust to the winds,
    this celebration of old skin,
    I feel every flower that is
    screaming to consume you
    the earth and sky your cradle
    the earth and sky entomb you
    so is the way of forever
    teeming with simple cruelties
    beatings in cold rooms
    hands and head not found…”