I believe I’ve stated before in these hallowed halls that the blues are the foundation of all the music we love. From the spirit to the structure of the music, metal wouldn’t exist if not for the blues. Sure, most of the more extreme stuff we listen to these days bears no resemblance to heavy music from the early days of ear-bleeding rock, but there are still bands out there that hearken back to the loud, bluesy days of hard rock. Clutch is today’s prime example of that style, and ZZ Top is the granddaddy. Both bands love the blues, and love to boogie. You can add Floridian quartet The Electric Mud to that cadre. These guys are beer drinkers and hellraisers, and on sophomore album Burn the Ships they aim to show us all how gritty southern blues-rock should be played.
Burn the Ships originally came out as an EP back in June (and at the time of this writing was still available on The Electric Mud’s Bandcamp for NYP). Four more songs have been added to the original three, and the resulting 38-minute album serves as a churning, muggy, meandering ride through the Florida mangroves. “Call the Judge” is a quick shuffle of a boogie, and like all the tracks showcases Peter Kolter’s smoky, whiskey-soaked vocals. Kolter comes off like a younger Billy Gibbons—or a more reserved Neil Fallon, take your pick. He and Constantine Grim lay down some searing guitar work, with a ton of rhythmic groove and feel underpinning some killer lead chops. “Priestess” opens in more playful fashion, but over the course of its seven minutes it showcases towering riffs and a sweaty, laid-back swagger.
“Reptile” is a full-on rocker with a serpentine lick, while “Black Wool” is the fuzziest, most deliberately-paced number here. The song drags on for more than seven minutes of sleazy, heavy blues. “I’m digging a hole, black sheep, black wool,” go the somewhat silly lyrics, with a hazy Led Zeppelin-like breakdown in the middle. And album closer “Terrestrial Birds” is the most pure blues cut on Burn the Ships. It opens with a killer guitar solo amid a slow, quiet backing track, but builds climactically for each chorus before quieting down for more nifty soloing. The Electric Mud may only be two albums into a career, but “Terrestrial Birds” is the sound of a band that’s been around for many more than that.
Burn the Ships was recorded by Matt Washburn, who has worked with Elder, Royal Thunder, and Mastodon. Washburn ensures that the band’s authenticity shines through. Tommy Scott’s bass rumbles warmly, often in unison with the rhythm guitar, creating towering riffs and melodies. When he’s not laying down a thick groove, Scott drops tasty little licks here and there. Pierson Whicker has an excellent sense of feel behind the drum kit, and Washburn mixes his performance to perfection. His playing leaves plenty of room for the other musicians to breathe, which is refreshing amongst modern drummers. And Kolter’s voice is soaked in whiskey and wisdom far beyond his apparent years.
The Electric Mud just might be the most perfect band name. These guys really do sound like muddy swamp monsters come to life, full of humid, muggy attitude and steamy swagger. Judging from their promo shots, this is a young band, but that doesn’t stop them from having a superb sense of feel—something many bands sorely lack these days. Knowing when to push the pocket and when to lay back is a subtle skill, but these guys pull it off all the way through Burn the Ships, making this an album that’s just as much fun as some of those old ZZ Top platters. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it’s a helluva good time while it lasts.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Websites: theelectricmud1.bandcamp.com | theelectricmud.com | facebook.com/theelectricmud
Releases Worldwide: August 23rd, 2019