Usx - Bad Heart Bull
US Christmas, like Mountain, have created their own theme for an imaginary western "Bad Heart Bull" continues their exploration of the crossroads where doom, psych and blues meet. A messy and always compatible crossroads, but USX have absorbed the gritty heart of each genre. Lead by guitarist/songwriter Nate Hall-the recent author of a fairly stunning solo release-the band approach their sweeping, cinematic, self-appointed task with grit and grace.
The title track is a brooding acoustic, atmospheric opener, an intro that leaves you guessing as to the path this record will take--brooding acoustic-based heavy blues, metal, ... ? "Gallows Humor," a mid-tempo throbbing rocker, answers that to a degree; like the last half of the Beatles' "I Want You," it is both melodic and sludgy, and a great lead-in to the massive "Black Snake," devastating with its grinding Sabbath-like feel, with a deft, muted but shredding solo "Lazarus" combines the atmospherics and crunch of many of these songs, and is as close to a synthesis of their ideas as any other song. The closer, "Bad Heart Bull II," is a pretty daring finale, basically ten minutes of echoing banging that sometimes sounds like percussion and at other times like the slow dismantling of a plumbing system. Abstract isn't the word.
North Carolina has long been a cauldron of musical styles and traditions, and US Christmas have absorbed them all, and sucked in a few from England, Germany and points East. "Bad Heart Bull" is a continuation of their daring and unrepentant exploration of the outer edges of metal and blues. But such an attempt on its own has no power if the band doesn't have the chops and inspiration to bring out those depths. USX has that in spades.
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