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CD Review: Iamthethorn – You Are the Lamb

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cover iamthethornIt's interesting how hardcore punk is reaching outside itself for inspiration these days. More specifically, it's reaching back in time. There's the whole punk 'n' roll/death 'n' roll thing. There's Doomriders, a band that recasts Thin Lizzy and Danzig for the camo short set. Then there's Iamthethorn, four Seattleites taking on the New Orleans sludge of Eyehategod and Crowbar. Vocalist John Pettibone from Himsa is the marquee name here, but other band members have done time in Harkonen, Skarp, and Splatterhouse (to name but a few), so the ability to rock isn't in question.

What is, though, is the ability to rock like Nola does. Though that scene varies in sound, what distinguishes it from other cities is raw desperation. No overproduction, no Hot Topic haircuts, no fashion at all, in fact. Just a bunch of dirtbags with bad habits rocking out – I mean that in the best possible way. So can some Yanks from the land of Microsoft conjure up the requisite filth?

Mostly, though this five-track offering is more calling card than artistic statement. Downtuned riffs? Knuckle-scraping grooves? Scarred-throat vocals? Check, check, and check. The balance between difficulty and catchiness is admirable; this EP opens and closes with fairly trying six-minute numbers, sandwiching more accessible groovers in the middle. "Cutman" skulks along with nasty, winding riffs, "The Hunt and Beyond" cuts loose with crusty d-beats, and "As the Night Rises" walks at a measured half-speed, trying to prove it's really not that drunk. "Crawling Over Them" is the toughest nut to crack, but it reveals a deep pit of despair a la Khanate, with some Godflesh vocal delay for good measure.

The production perfectly suits the material. It's big, dirty, and natural; guitars sound electric, drums sound like drums, and the whole thing glows with amp hum. Kurt Ballou could have produced this, but Katy Kavanaugh and Paul Speer share the knob-twiddling credits. Don't let the hardcore font of the artwork fool you. This is all beards, bongs, and beer – more, please!


Iamthethorn on MySpace
Goodfellow Records

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