Artimus Pyle
Civil Dead

Artimus Pyle was the drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd (I believe), though apparently that has nothing to do with this band. This Artimus Pyle plays a blazing crust-punk hardcore style, augmented with more than occasional nods to early Neurosis and the Melvins.

Guitars are dingy and super dense – piled on power chords and quick changes. Some of the chords have an “indie rock weirdness” quality, even though there isn’t much outright melody. The bass provides a super messy, overdriven wall of noise that fills up as much room as the guitars. Vocals are pretty much a constant howl that reminds me of Dead and Gone; plenty pissed, too. Drums are pure power, from fast thrashy beats to slow, tribal pounding, every note is loaded with conviction – these boys make a lot of noise for a trio!

 Stylistically, this is hard to place: the speed is there, and the overall sound is close to the grindcore/crust of bands like Capitalist Casualties or Drop Dead, but there’s enough non-cliched variation to keep things interesting. Some of the raging off-time sections, with their bludgeony rush of jittery rhythms (see “Injustice at North County”) resemble Coalesce, and a few evil dirge grooves again bring to mind Dead and Gone.

My favorite spots on this disk are the noisy, feedback driven sludge jams, like the torturous title track, which opens with slow, spacious drumming before introducing a crushing, “Truck Driver from Hell” riff that’ll make Keelhaul run for cover. “Opiate” is another highlight, with Neurosis-style tribal drums that lead perfectly into the spastic, racing “Void.”

The production on this disk is what I call the “instant headache” sound – it’s a mass of bass that you can’t EQ out, and it gets tough on the ears pretty quick (see Coalesce’s Give Them Rope or Converge’s When Forever Comes Crashing).That, coupled with Artimus Pyle’s tendency to play as fast as possible, makes Civil Dead likely to blow clean past most ears on a casual listen. Everything is mixed fine, but it sucks to think that such an inventive band will inevitably be reduced to a blur for some listeners.

I like the mixed bag of musical elements on Civil Dead – it’s obvious that Artimus Pyle are out solely to unleash their aggression and emotion, not to satisfy a scene, and that earns big points with this reviewer. So when you grab your copy of Civil Dead, be sure to visit that friend who has an awesome stereo system, take out his Eminem CD (and break it), and introduce your pal to an ornery little critter named Artimus Pyle.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay Paiva
February 20th, 2001

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