Eyehategod – A History of Nomadic Behavior Review

The New Orleans, Louisiana metal scene holds a special place in my heart. Since discovering trailblazing artists, and personal favorites, Acid Bath and Soilent Green, along with legendary supergroup Down, I’ve been an avid fan of many a NOLA band. Whether it be heavyweights like Crowbar and Goatwhore, or quality lesser known acts like Flesh Parade, Mule Skinner and Agents of Oblivion, the scene’s downtrodden, hard luck traits, often laden with decaying sludge and doom influences, holds great appeal and emotional resonance. Legendary sludge metallers Eyehategod is another high profile and revered NOLA band from the wrong side of the tracks, carving out a punishing career of ugly, hateful, feedback drenched sludge, including genre classics, Take as Needed for Pain and Dopesick. Built upon foundations of immense hardship, personal pain, resilience, and rocky turbulence, particularly those of troubled frontman Mike IX Williams, Eyehategod returned with a self-titled comeback album in 2014, their first LP since 2000’s Confederacy of Ruined Lives. It was a solid return, staying true to the band’s gnarled roots. The passage of time and age shall not weary Eyehategod.

Seven years later, Eyehategod return with the expected spiteful and bitter chip on their trademarked shoulders, sounding as pissed and deranged as ever, showing no signs of softening with age. A History of Nomadic Behavior continues the trend of dependency that has been a mainstay during their career, now stretching across multiple decades. While the modern incarnation of Eyehategod lacks some of the disturbing ugliness and raw grit of earlier recordings, the blood, guts, anguish, hate and glory that’s defined their tough as nails and seemingly unkillable career is present in these newer tunes. The punk-infected sludge tunes and burly southern swagger remain ever present. Essentially, Eyehategod make music to feel shit to, and I mean that in an endearing way. Possessing a knack for subtle dynamics, thickly oppressive and addictive, tar-coated riffs, and a hefty dose of NOLA sludge groove, Eyehategod remain relevant.

While the cleaner production values might irk old school Eyehategod purists, overall, the tortured howls of Williams and long established jarring, nasty and abrasive sludge ensures a filthy, rugged attack, not for the faint hearted. And the killer guitar tone is absolutely huge and imposing. Opener “Built Between the Lies” sounds purpose-made for weeding out the weak; its restlessly jarring rhythms, bruising  and unconventional structure, and inaccessible streak makes for an unsettling beginning. “The Outer Banks” lurches and lumbers through swollen, infected sludge dirges and lead footed punk speed-ups in traditional Eyehategod fashion. Elsewhere, the bulk of the album features consistently solid, and occasionally higher quality material. Highlights include, the swaggering riff monster, “”High Risk Trigger,” mug you in a dark alley attitude “Circle of Nerves,” and doom-laden heft of “Anemic Robotic.”

Performances are strong across the board. Jimmy Bower still wields his axe with uncompromising power and sonic might, his ironclad handiwork incorporates negative dirges, bluesy sludge grooves, and elements of feedback-laced noise and violent punk. It all falls into familiar realms of Eyehategod guitar battery, but Bower’s work is never dull, and the infectious grooves and melodic embellishments add welcome flavor. The imposing drumming of Aaron Hill is another standout. Hill unleashes a busy, aggressive performance, far beyond sludge pocket playing. Imaginative fills, aggressively stomping grooves, and off-kilter rhythms highlight his strong contribution. Not everything works to the album’s benefit. The loud mastering robs the more dynamic and subtle elements of the band’s sound. Williams’ unhinged vocals still sound killer, if a little too upfront in the mix, though some lyrics are a bit awkwardly constructed. Most songs deliver on some level, though there is little to match their finest songs from the past, while “Current Situation” dedicates entirely too much time engaging in feedback drenched noise in its mid-section.

Eyehategod is a sludge institution and I’ve long admired their dedication to no-holds barred extremity and authentic sludge in its purest, filthiest form. The fact they are still trucking on and sounding as pissed, deranged and vital as ever after three decades plus of sludge devotion, is testament to the band’s endearing strengths and consistent quality. A History of Nomadic Behavior doesn’t surpass their strongest efforts, but is a more than worthy addition to the Eyehategod catalog, and more complete album than their previous self-titled comeback effort. For Eyehategod fans it’s a no brainer, conversely, those unable to get into the band’s bleakly abrasive sludge formula previously, won’t find a whole lot to change their mind here.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed:  320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media
Websites: eyehategod.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/OfficialEyeHateGod
Releases Worldwide: March 12th, 2021

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