taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of the moment

WEEDEATERJason…the Dragon

It doesn’t take a toxicology analysis to figure out where Weedeater gets the inspiration for their Southern groove-inflected brand of doom-sludge metal, and their fourth full-length album would be every bit as endearing to the blazed-out headbanger set is it weren’t for a few missteps. On Jason… the Dragon, the Wilmington trio don’t rely much on odd time signatures, technical mastery or studio gimmickry. It’s simply a straight-up, ferocious creation born of a taste for subtle and subversive humor, repeated bong rips and a keen sense of misanthropy. More significantly, it’s an album that doesn’t require full use of brain cells to appreciate. After a minute-long intro of bowed bass and creepy narrative that recalls a Tom Waits soothsaying, the cryptic sound of heavily overdriven guitar meets a hulking, grisly bass line on “Hammerhandle.” It’s classic doom, uses approximately one riff, which moves slower than a Wednesday afternoon and ends even slower. In between, “Dixie” Dave Collins’ vocals sound as tortured and obfuscated as ever, but the lyrical content is barely of any import when this is clearly meant to be music to annoy neighbors by. It transitions almost seamlessly into “Man coon,” which is marked by an almost imperceptible uptick in tempo and pitch. “Turkey Warlock” starts with an almost Sabbath-y blues riff and ends with 30-plus seconds of fuzz, which leads into the title track and arguably, the finest moment on the album. It’s a stone colossus of music, but from here, the album becomes a little peculiar. As in, “Palms of Opium” is a bit of lap steel and double-bass psychedelia kind of peculiar. On vinyl, it might be the intro to an honest-to-God B- side, as there’s more monkeying around than ass-kicking taking place. “March of the Bi-Polar Bear” is a minutelong drum solo, while “Whiskey River” is a hicked-out instrumental with a minute of silence parsing a piano solo. That makes for only two genuine metal tracks on the album’s second half, and only about 22.5 minutes of music that their fans might actually care about. After a four-year hiatus, maybe this isn’t the kind of output that Weedeater should have come back with and while it’s good when they come with it, there’s too many distractions to consider this a step forward.