Wolf Eyes
Mugger
Hanson
2003
B+



wolf Eyes is a scary bunch of fuckers. These three have not only made some of the most intense, primal, and messy noise recordings of recent times, but in less than ten years they’ve released well over 50 albums worth of the stuff – a single-minded dedication to the ugly and the sadistic that can only be feared and admired. Mugger, a live CD-R released on Aaron Dilloway’s Hanson Records, is only one of the nearly 20 releases this trio (which includes Nate Young and John Olson in addition to Dilloway) has shat out this year alone. In a discography that big, I really have no way of knowing how exactly this stacks up, except to say that this is the most uncompromisingly brutal Wolf Eyes release I’ve heard yet.

The album consists of five untitled tracks in just over a half hour, and for a pure, concentrated blast of aural brain-melter, it can hardly be beat. The sound is as rough and raw as you’d expect, everything bleeding together into one big sonic mudpile until you can’t tell which sounds are coming from guitar, which from voice, and which from the band’s homemade electronics. Possibly because of the live setting, there seems to be less reliance here on loops than on the group’s most readily available studio albums like Slicer and Dread. As a result, the sound on Mugger is even messier than on those discs, and the forward motion tends to sound random and scattered, in contrast to the relentless rhythmic drive of the group’s other work (necessary clarifier: “that I’ve heard”).

The first track opens with what might be a guitar solo filtered through massive stacks of electronics as insect-like squeals pour out of the speakers. Occasional guitar-like sounds do emerge in the chaos, but they do so violently, as if they had to fight their way forcibly through the surrounding murk. Dilloway’s processed screams in the background are only one more element of insanity—he sounds like a passing demon just running through this particular hellish scene.

On the second track, there is actually what appears to be a loop—of a bird-like electronic chirping—but the rhythmic nature of the track is sabotaged by long, dirty smears of feedback that drive things along in a much freer, less structured manner. The third track is an ebbing and flowing drone that seems to roll along steadily, picking up grit and scum as it goes, for the entire course of its seven minutes; electronic whistles and howls skitter frantically out of the drone’s smothering hold, only to be swallowed up in it once again. Dilloway’s screams, when they rear up out of this soup, sound like he’s physically trapped inside his machines, wires strangling and electrocuting him simultaneously.

This is the music of sheer, unadulterated anger, but it can hardly be imagined as a human anger. Wolf Eyes’ live noise does have some analogue to the ferocity of a hardcore band on stage, but it’s very hard to imagine this stuff – as messy and chaotic as it is – really coming from living, breathing humans. The final track is the most truly hellish of them all, a static-filled representation of the Devil’s fiery rivers, and when Diloway howls and incomprehensibly speaks through his litany of filters and effects, he sounds more like a monster than a man. This is demon’s hardcore, and it’s easy to imagine a bunch of hunch-backed, scaly-skinned creatures sprawled across a stage, stuffing their clawed fingers into guitar innards and holding live wires to the skulls of their victims.

I mean, what else could possibly have produced this racket?
Reviewed by: Ed Howard
Reviewed on: 2004-01-09
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