Album Review: Noothgrush – Live for Nothing

Rounding out a trio of re-releases to commemorate the tenth anniversary of their denouement, Noothgrush’s Live for Nothing is a compilation of live sessions recorded directly from the mixboards of two college radio stations. While never emulating the commercial success of Eyehategod, the West Coast natives forged an underground legacy for themselves at the cement-thick, ultra-heavy end of sludge, and these two recordings book-end their prolific middle era in the late 1990s, during which they released eight split EPs in three years.

Opening with ‘Sith’ and ‘Jundland Wastes’, two of the many Star Wars references that bizarrely litter their discography, these Californians immediately lay down a sound that is much closer to Buzzov*en and even Khanate than Eyehategod and Iron Monkey. The blues and hardcore influences that defined many American sludge frontrunners are largely cast aside – only occasionally reaching the surface on ‘Derrell’s Porno Song’ and ‘Friends of Mine’ – in favour of raw, visceral catharsis through the medium of stretched and mangled metallic riffs. There are forgetful moments, particularly ‘Useless’ and ‘Made Uncomfortable by Others’ Pain’, which tread the wrong side of sludge’s wafer-thin intensity/boredom measure, but ‘Gage’, ‘Erode the Person’ and Dianoga’ maintain the overall standard by further magnifying the skull-crushing force of Noothgrush’s very heaviest riffs.

There is time for a sinister, lurching cover of Celtic Frost’s ‘Procreation of the Wicked’ and the badland-wandering atmosphere ‘A People Defeated’, before ‘Stagnance’, and ‘Hatred for the Species’ conclude this record with an almighty heave that threatens to drag Noothgrush’s tombstone down in to the soil beneath it. While Live for Nothing loses some of its power because of the mix quality, it remains an utterly essential release for any sludge enthusiast, and is surely one of the most vital re-issues of 2011.


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