Keelhaul's Triumphant Return to Obscurity

Snarkily nodding to their small but fiercely dedicated following with this album title as they did with the preceding EP, You Waited Five Years For This?, Cleveland’s finest mostly instrumental four piece is back and they haven’t skipped a beat, or rather drummer Will Scharf is still skipping beats left and right, but that’s a good, no, great thing because the band’s eclectic, angular swing has been sorely missing from the burgeoning instru-metal scene and from my stereo. True anti-virtuosos, Scharf, guitarists Chris Smith and Dana Smith, and bassist Aaron Dallison have put together a record that is guaranteed to satisfy their salivating masses, or uh, mobs of fans who have been impatiently and arhythmically tapping their feet for a follow-up to the excellent Subject to Change Without Notice.

Even after such a lengthy hiatus, Triumphant Return… isn’t subject to any change you will notice, though it does not quite feel like a long awaited follow-up, more a stylistic survey, revisiting tones and themes of their previous work, while never actually repeating themselves. Definitely as heavy on the vocals as the band has ever been, again, that’s not saying much, but certainly Dallison and Smith have become a bit more verbose in their old age, particularly on songs like “THC for One” and “Kirby Worm”. Throughout the entire album, the band is doing what they do best, toeing the line between spastic and catchy, confirming their place as the most spastically catchy band on earth.

For those new to Keelhaul, my best explanation is to take the sludgy technicality and phenomenal drumming of earlier Mastodon, pair it with the dorky dexterity and skronky anxiety of Dysrhythmia or Don Caballero, and then best recognize that this comparison embraces both style and quality. For those who might be hesitant to return the love to these guys who left you all those years ago, leaving you feeling heartbroken and empty inside, the best I can tell you is that last year I was surprised that two reunion albums, Cynic’s Traced in Air and Dystopia’s self-titled, ended up high on my year-end top list. Being as brilliantly complex as the former and as gritty and grimey as the latter, I will be shocked if any other album surpasses Triumphant Return to Obscurity this year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
August 11th, 2009


  1. Commented by: vugelnox

    oh I have waited long for this, can’t wait to get it!

  2. Commented by: Dimaension X

    This sounds pretty interesting. The tunes on their myspace page are pretty cool sounding.

  3. Commented by: bast

    Digging this, thx.

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