Blood Farmers
Headless Eyes

While everyone goes nuts for Electric Wizard’s painfully pedestrian Time to Die, I myself will clutch tightly the hearty entrails of NYC’s Blood Farmers, and their third horror doom masterpiece, Headless Eyes.  The trio hasn’t lost a step since they proudly stalked the halls of legendary riff label Hellhound Records back in the 90s.  If you don’t puke joyously on your Black Sabbath shirt on sight of the album cover, you will once the riffs take hold.

“Gut Shot” is a murderous opener garishly grinding a knife betwixt its Sabbath-y teeth.  Guitarist Dave Szulkin is one of the most underrated players in the doom genre (he also holds down the low-end foundation on the recording as well), his bread n’ butter consisting of building sparse power chords into blues-bent lead trails and Tower of Babel grooves which have the distorted creamy menace of prime Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath, or more recently Church of Misery.  He showcases this ability above the morphine drip battery of drummer Tad Leger.  Tad greases the gruel axle with tasteful snare fills providing hot sparks against, Szulkin’s bloated corpse bass licks.  The song builds slowly and deliberately like a good slasher flick.  You know you’re going to get axed, but you just don’t know when.  You’ve got to face the fact that you’re fucked as the brutish rolls across the toms ooze into a hulking riff downstroke that cleans the carcass for the injection of Eli Brown’s chemically torn voice.  His howl is unmistakable; rising and falling as the riffs scale increasingly precarious heights of 70s shroom blues.  One can almost catch a gleam of sun whenever Dave’s leads splay open their catchiest, hookiest innards before the entire song plummets to a rosary chewing, damnation doom finale.

The title track makes effective usage of filthy film samples that are intricately woven into a threadwork of sin blasted riffage.  Unlike a lot of bands that throw movie quotes in willy nilly, the ones used here are uniquely triggered at certain points throughout the song to create a call and response element that trades off with Brown’s Karloffian bellow.  When he cries out from the gallows, “I am twisted, I am sick,” with the sampling echoing his sentiments…a one of a kind vibe is created.  Retro this shit isn’t.  Szulkin embalms a few of the grooves in trippy wah, deceiving eardrums into thinking the heaviness won’t return, yet it will…its tentacles are merely coiled as it slumbers in the depths.  Sometimes the song moves at such a slovenly pace it makes Grief look like the first speed metal band, but just when you need it most these guys pick up the speed with a ferocious punch on the snare sending the riffs power walking down the backstreets like Jack the Ripper on holiday.  Most striking is the 7:55 mark where the entire band seems to launch into the kind of free-form drug jamming Blue Öyster Cult perfected on their first three albums.  They stretch further into the watery, free-form psyche jamming on instrumental, “The Creeper,” where the focus is on heavily phased, cleanly plucked wah-wah guitar/bass jams outs.  Riffs only pop up briefly, and the guitars are doubled for a little DMT doused harmonizing.

Riff after riff of heathen blues-doom is the order of the day on album centerpiece, “Thousand Yard Stare,” where Leger’s methodical, precisely placed beats mimic the slow driving of nails into Christ’s cross.  How the hell some of these guys keep time so slow without sounding like slop is beyond me.  Whenever the guitar dementia takes deeper turns, Tad even manages a fill that slams on every accent of the riff.  The effect is like being shot to death while trying to catch some rest in suspended animation.  The leads are infectious like salmonella and aren’t so much played as they are hung and beaten till the point of no return.  It’s all blues-based though, and the recording job is so thickly put together you never lose Dave’s lard bucket bass in the mix.  Thick is good, but thick and clear is even better.  Again, where’s that tone on the new Wizard?  I’m not hearing it.  A series of guitar solos draws this one to a close, mixing the rock n’ roll shred of Hendrix into a vat of limbs, lungs and molasses.

Blood Farmers give Goblin and Fabio Frizzi a run for their money on the soundtrack worthy, instrumental freakout of “Night of the Sorcerers.”  This is a brazen piece of Italian horror film madness enhanced by synthesizers, clean bass/guitar layers which sweep across a percussion presence that’s completely spectral during the intro.  Where these guys completely step it up a notch from their forefathers is the nearly thrash oriented snare marches which collide with devilishly picked, lightly distorted guitar riffs that again brings that late 60s/early 70s headtrip madness the Farmers do so well right to the forefront.  While most bands past and present drench these types of songs so richly in keyboards to adhere to what the style calls for, the organic difference heard in this instrumentation makes for a completely different animal. A mentally deranged beast with claws sharp enough to rob you of a nut, especially when Szulkin lashes the listener in a flurry of descending doom riffs that were recently let out of the local asylum.  They keep the Sabbath at bay for quite a long time before unleashing it during a cryptic finale that eventually breaks down into taut Geezer Butler-influenced low-end boogie which wraps warmly around more prescription med 70s soloing.

Closer, “The Road Leads to Nowhere” is a cover of David Hess’ cult tune from exploitation classic, The Last House on the Left.  Musically, it’s completely faithful to the original balancing of acoustic guitar with electrified meathook malice.  Of course it’s heavied up a bit with doom-y distortion, and piercing, trebly leads that again have a doubled touch to ‘em for the satanic creation of vintage metal harmonies, but it doesn’t piss on the source material in any way, shape, or form.  Everything in this song just sounds like it is dying and crying out to you for a proper burial.  A light smattering of violin makes this sound oddly like a High Tide cut from the ’69 proto-metal opus Sea Shanties.  That’s a fucking compliment by the way!  If ever there was a cover song specifically made for this band, this is the one.  They couldn’t have picked a better last gasp for the album.

Headless Eyes is an experience as much as it is an album.  A lot of lesser doom records feature interchangeable tracks which can be played in any order without interrupting the flow.  That’s not the case with this one.  A definable arc is present from the moment you press play till the last note crashes down like an executioner’s axe.  Blood Farmers have been away too damn long, but if the wait to have them back was necessary for this misshapen monstrosity’s grand birth…I hope they don’t make another record for at least 10 years.  Trust me us crazy doom fans will be the ones that benefit from the lengthy album incubation.

 

 

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
December 15th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jason

    I forgot to include a link with this. You can get the vinyl from the good folks at PATAC who put it out:

    http://www.patacrecords.com/


  2. Commented by: thatguy

    Only an idiot would put down e.w.’s amazing new dlp


  3. Commented by: Jason

    I’m an idiot for sure then and proud of it. No apologies here. I like the first 4 and Witchcult. This one bored me about as much as We Live and Black Masses, and those bored me plenty.


  4. Commented by: KJM

    The title track alone shits all over ‘Time To Die’.


  5. Commented by: Jay

    KLM, I couldn’t agree more!


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