Those who have malingered around this site for a few years may recall the name Boudain. They were one of the contestants in AMG’s infamous Unsigned Band Rodeo of 2013. Now in 2016 they get the added distinction of being the very first of those involved to send us a promo for an actual full-length album (though they’re still unsigned). This leaves us at AMG feeling like a bunch of proud parents watching this little career egg finally hatch into something tangible (those crazy kids just grow up so fast, don’t they?). But enough of that – Boudain hail from the humid environs of Monroe, Louisiana and traffic in a type of sludgy, bluesy stoner metal taking many a cue from local acts Crowbar, Down and C.O.C. as well as Kyuss and of course, Black Sabbath. This style has been done many times before and these scamps bring nothing new to the table beyond sincerity and youthful exuberance, but is that enough?
Some might be so bold as to say their Way of the Hoof debut is naught but recycled Kyuss ideas served with andouille sausage and okra, and though they do violate the Sky Valley town lines at times, the band borrows from enough other genres to avoid being tagged a one trick piggy. Opener “Sleazy Feats” is a rowdy, disjointed riff-fest that sounds like a drunken Down jamming with a sleep deprived Eyehategod. The aggressive riffs are up in your face, poking you in the chest and asking your girl for a date. It’s alligator-skin boot wearing shit-kicker bait and you can’t deny it’s base appeal, though it doesn’t exactly scream compositional know-how. Follow-up “Neptune” rips out the gate sounding so much like Kyuss‘ “Gardenia” that litigation may be threatened. It strikes me as odd Boudain would let a song drift so close to one of their obvious influences and though it winds up a decent song, I’m not sure what to make of this level of Kyuss mimicking.
Luckily, they course-correct on “Coda” which smacks of stronger NOLA flavor, pissed off attitude and mid-paced, 10-ton riffs. It isn’t the best song you’ll hear this week but it’s entertainingly boisterous and weighty. “Disco Jimmy” features the most classically Sabbathian riffs, but there isn’t a lot going on beyond the wholesale recycling of old timey doom leads.
Elsewhere, “First Class” sounds like Fu Manchu circa The Action is Go, but doesn’t really impress beyond a surface appreciation for the heavy, fuzzed-out riffs. “The Mighty Turn Around” features a discordant riff recalling John Fogerty‘s “The Old Man Down the Road,” but the song itself doesn’t really go anywhere, falling back on churning fat riffs without providing a larger context for them to exist within. Closer “Godzilla” is a cover of the Blue Oyster Cult fan favorite done up with ginormous stoner riffs and what seems like the inclusion of segments of Sabbath‘s “War Pigs.” It’s enjoyable for what it is, but not something I’ll need to revisit.
When I first heard their debut EP back in 2013 they were very rough around the edges, but the potential was clearly there. Way of the Hoof sounds more profession in some ways, but remains slapdash in others. There’s no denying Brian Lenard and David Karakash can craft big, burly riffs capable of flattening your cranium, but riffs don’t always equate to memorable songs, and that’s the main issue here. I like a riff or two in every tune, but the songs themselves don’t click and I end up wishing these deserving leads could find a good home in a kick ass song (are Khemmis or Goatsnake available to foster?). The vocals are split between Lenard and bassist Chris Porter, and though they’re more refined than on the EP, they’re still not much more than raspy shouting and add little to the material overall.
On top of these issues, the production is LOUD! It’s a very compressed mix with a wall of sound built up around the naturally prominent guitars. These have a nicely beefy tone, but everything is a wash of noise with the drumming and especially the bass getting swept downriver in a soupy din.
I was hoping for more from Boudain, but the pork sausage is clearly not ready for human consumption. The raw potential is present, but that raw is still too raw. They say all stoner bands are equal, but some are more equal than others and so the pearls will have to remain before the swine a while longer. You simply can’t reward swine with pearls until you get a better product than Way of the Hoof or you risk losing the entire animal farm.