Friday, June 10, 2011
Great Defunct Bands: The Devil and the Sea
From Austin "By way of Louisiana, motherfucker" Texas, The Devil and the Sea were potentially a Great Band. They broke up sometime in 2009.
A self-described "ghettotech/ healing and easy-listening/ metal" sludge act, there were ominous writings for some time on their myspace page ("...is deader than a door nail."), and when I emailed Chad from their label Acerbic Noise Development in August of last year, he unfortunately confirmed the unseemly death.
"Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" was their original name. They shortened it for copyright violation reasons.
Their first official full length LP, Heart vs Spine (originally released 1/29/08) was mastered by none other than Sanford Parker, and sounds like a Southern version of Yob, with some Sunn O))) worship going on in the background.
It's as cool as it sounds.
...and it sounds like mighty men, warriors in a longboat, shouting bravely and happily and gamely over the waves of Charybdis, a comparison perhaps not surprising because their of their original name...which was used in the same context as Scylla and company....
Criticism is not nay-saying, good versus bad, disjunctive categories: it's a method, ideally developed/ divined by the writer, given to you, the reader, to re-interpret something based on new perceptions, i.e., "this is why I liked it, this is how I see this band/artist: here's why you might also choose to perceive them this way...."
Good music "criticism" is allowing your perceptions to be bent, just enough to alter their trajectory and maybe put you in line with the music in question.
So allow me to point you at the Truth in vinyl:
Heart vs Spine sadistically out-waits you, it's aggressively patient... it refuses chord changes, long after you've forgotten that chords do that... after your descendants have calcified....
It's an oily, blackened, Bourbon County Stout of a sound--
Track one, "Batwing," its initial riff a combination of open chord and dissonant open notes....
"My Soul is My Abacus," (an instrumental all the way up to 4:30... the mutation of an ugly cancerous riff begins at 5:14, growing and pulsing and swelling into morbid riffosity) intros with definitely greasy bass, and vocals radio-ed in from the 1940s on a Bakelite tabletop radio... which totally works...
"Heart vs Spine" is 14 minutes, a huge part of which is one chord, played as an octave (A flat to A flat-- craaaazy detuned, babs), ride cymbal and distant howl of the probably- tortured... dig that sudden stop at 4:39 to remind you we're not a force of nature, jack, we're actually just three guys rocking the fuck out-- and we can stop, on a dime, whenever we want....At around ten minutes we start, oh, so subtly... slowing... grinding down... like the entropy of a doomed evolutionary line....
Overall, it's swinging heavily, rustily lurching sludge metal with a hint of Robert Johnson satanic blues... with ambient and industrial's space and fatness... and sludge and industrial's repetitiveness... it's nearly what you'd expect from sludge, yet as well contains those other elements....
Is it ambient that grooves enough to be sludge...?
Are they on some sort of heaviness continuum? Has TDATS merged through some forbidden door between genres...? Is that why they're so badass? Is that why we hear them as being heavy in the first place? Is heaviness really just "badassness" in audible form?
I'm a goddamned genius!
In 2006 they released a demo called...MMVI. It's responsible for their getting signed, and in and of itself is pretty cool. It also contains a slightly different version of "Monolith," but otherwise the tracks are distinct from Heart vs. Spine.
And get the t-shirt-- it's wicked soft and well-fitting and looks sinister (it really is, it's one of my favorites; this is the first time I've ever mentioned a shirt in a review)-- help out Acerbic Noise Development-- they were cool to me via email with absolutely no reason to be. Even Decibel's review of MMVI mentions the shirt... (I can't find the link; you'll have to trust me.)
Buy here: Heart vs Spine
buy here mp3: Heart Vs Spine
TDATS myspace http://www.myspace.com/devilandthesea
Acerbic Noise Development: http://www.acerbicnoise.com/store/clothing/