Wolf Eyes - River Slaughter (Hospital Productions 2xLP)
More heavy transmissions from out the basement of Jammyland, New York. This one is the long-awaited double LP debut from Wolf Eyes, whom you are bound to have encountered by now. "River Slaughter" is cobbled together from reworkings and revisions of two earlier, limited-run Wolf Eyes CD-Rs: "River of Haze" and "Human Slaughterhouse Demos". Unfortunately those discs must be two that got away because I can't say I've got them amongst my Wolf Eyes collection, thus I'm not able to tell exactly how much material has been given the ol' once-over.
If you've ever bought a few random Wolf Eyes American Tapes CD-Rs in your day (especially more recently), you might've realized they don't quite compare to when Wolf Eyes put in appearances on other labels. Maybe they're just trying harder, I don't know. But I do know that their prior releases on labels like Hospital, Bulb, Heresee, Important, Polyamory and Sub Pop (natch!) count among my favorite Wolf Eyes discs, while I'm usually less interested in the weekly American Tapes jams. Maybe that, coupled with the 2LP format, have already gotten my expectations up unrealistically high for this one, but I must say I felt slightly let down. Another "thing" I have with Wolf Eyes is they tend to lapse into slow, druggy, sludged-out crawls like a doom metal band with electronics. The band are by far and away at their strongest when Olson's fists are pumping and Nate is losing is shit on the mic. That rarely takes place here; these four sides are all slow-burners of the highest order. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing I guess, but the band are capable of a lot more. All sides boast occasional stretches of silences interrupted with blats and blasts from various damaged electronic goods, or (my favorite part) on side one when Olson gets out deranged duck calls across the waves.
The flipside to that starts out interestingly enough with a few minutes of roaring, monster rushes of white noise and metallic guitar riffing. Unfortunately the band takes a vacation for the rest of the side and it's filled out with the kind of lo-fi electric musings that build up to nothing at all.
The next side (I think we're up to side three now) is most notable for Nate Young's processed shrieks totally buried underneath a black wall of destruction followed by more silence and quiet rumblings. The noise picks up again briefly towards the side's conclusion, but it doesn't particularly satisfy. The fourth side is the least active of all, sounding more like the most strung-out of Dead Machines skree. The whole side basically functions as a coda to the set, and it does the job accordingly.
Wolf Eyes definitely have not "lost their touch" with this release, it just got away from them a bit. There's certainly some great material to be found across these 60-odd minutes, but I think it could've easily been cut down to a single record. Oh well, whatever Wolf Eyes do I'm always curious to see what's next...and we'll all probably be finding out within the week anyway.