Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Arc EP

As a longtime fan of these digitized, Maryland filth-grinders, I’m used to Agoraphobic Nosebleed slowing down with big, tumbling dirge riffs and back breaking weight.  They’ve showcased the tactic as early as The Poacher Diaries (split with Converge) and even back in the Honky Reduction days Scott Hull had a knack for busting his knuckles on a sludgy riff or three, but the majority of the band’s material has been fast, faster, fastest.  They hinted at a stylistic flip on the sickeningly good Agorapocalypse yet Arc pushes things another huge step forward into a more song-oriented direction.

Arc is the first in a series of 4 forthcoming EPs and it’s certainly a totally different trip up and down the pike for ANB.  Personally, this old bastard loves the fuck out of this new direction but fans that cut their teeth on the PCP piping, meth-addled grind of Frozen Corpse Stuffed with Dope and Altered States of America might not know what to do with this thing.  Opener “Not a Daughter” ditches grind completely and showcases an OCD obsession with doom-y grooves and monstrous southern-riffing in the vein of Cavity, Eyehategod, Kilara, Crowbar and even Soilent Green’s slower jams.  Vocalist Kat Katz’s (she of underrated southern doom scuzzers Salome) anguished, scratchy screams will be like a comfortable pair of slippers to sludge fans that live and die for Mike D. Williams and Rene Barge’s dope-addled hollers.  The tuneage is ungodly heavy in riff tonnage with Hull ripping powerhouse Sabbath via ZZ Top licks that are dirge-y enough to gloriously bum you out but propulsive enough to induce psychotic head-banging sprees where you’ll want to bust your fuckin’ noggin open on the nearest plaster wall.

There’s not a duff power chord arrangement to be found and John Jarvis’ bass is thick, dense and powerfully present in the mix to buttress the material nicely.  Tempos are shoved violently into killer mid-tempo boogie runs that keep things exciting and the drum programming feels like the real deal.  Worshippers of In the Name of Suffering and Somewhere between the Train Station and the Dumping Grounds should get a lot of double-barrel bang for their buck here.  I know I did!  One thing to note is that instead of recycling the same riffs over and over again with slightly different pacing, Hull changes up the game as much as possible to keep things interesting.

“Deathbed” kicks off with a stomping beat that sounds like Bill Ward’s legendary stomp in “Iron Man” although the riff goes one step lower and slower.  Kat combs the depth of her vocal register for some thick, vomiting death growls reeking with a murky, mucky menace.  The EHG shuck n’ jive is detectable in large quantities but the sleazier, slimier churns are also somewhat reminiscent of Grief and Noothgrush.  It’s a pounding, hypnotic plod that sucks at your sanity and chews brainstems for breakfast.  Towering blues bends keep the action intriguing throughout with the song dipping into grooves that are pumped up on a strict morphine diet.  Shortly after the midsection desolation break, Hull goes into a kingly Cathedral-sized riff that even veers into some double-tracked harmonies so catchy they should be criminal.  I can’t pinpoint the origin of Randall’s closing sample but it’s perfectly appropriate for the tune’s climax.

Closing jam “Gnaw” finds its footing with an off-kilter, blown-amp riff that has some of Crowbar’s seething malice on tap; sounding as if it could deconstruct and fall off into the abyss at any given moment.  Katz narrates the action with rampaging strep-throat screeches while the song ratchets up in intensity as it goes along; a feral, plummeting beat goading the riffage into a dingy up-tempo buried beneath an avalanche of Sabbath.  This one has those classic Cavity-esque stops n’ starts in place with the riffs building and destroying themselves in equal measure.  Sweltering feedback, samples and noise mark the halfway point giving way to a bottomless bass plunge from Jarvis and then a chunking, primitive man riff that is full of fat, atonal groove…a real burden bearer that’s tough to pin any direct reference points to.  It’s Scott Hull doing what he does best as the song descends into incomprehensible noise thereafter.

ANB has reinvented their sound with Arc.  The hallmarks of the band’s dirge-y damnation are still bleeding through loud and clear but they’ve replaced the entirety of their digi-psycho-blasting with riff after riff of pure pain and punishment.  The end result is catchy and already receiving endless replay in the Snyder household.  It has me fucking excited to see what route the next EP in the lineage will take.  Anyone that gets off on prime, uncompromising sludge and southern-fried doom shouldn’t miss out!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
February 8th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: AP

    Awesome EP!


  2. Commented by: Brutalicon

    I think I’m the only one that’s not impressed by this EP. I thinks it’s average at best, doesn’t sound like ANB to me. Hull’s Pig Destroyer already put out a release that has similarities to this. Lots of the riffing sounds like a rip off of Soilent Green, Crowbar, Hawg Jaw, even Down. The songs are executed well, but miss the mark for me as far as ANB goes.


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