You can learn a lot from an album’s artwork. When The Kite String Pops is no exception, emblazoning a piece taken straight from the deranged mind of serial killer John Wayne Gacy that was painted when he was awaiting execution. It’s childishness is unnerving to say the least and, naturally, Acid Bath muster up some equally unnerving sludge to go with it that cements When The Kite String Pops status as a cult classic.
Released in 1994, during metal’s dark ages, Kite String‘s core sound revolves around taking some of the most riff-centric elements of sludge metal and mixing in elements of the seediest grunge bands, fronted by equal measures of beautiful crooning cleans and raspy shrieks. Each track is driven by a selection of crusty, stomping riffs (helmed by Sammy Pierre Duet, who you may know for his recent work in Goatwhore), searing feedback and drums that groove as often as they blast — all carefully encompassed by a dense gritty atmosphere.
The real highlight here however is the lyrics. Many are quick to extol the amazing lyrics of Pig Destroyer’s JR Hayes, but Dax Riggs was the original king of evocative and disturbing lyrics — a twisted poetry of sex, death, blasphemy and drug abuse. Take, for instance, opener ‘The Blue‘ that unflinchingly screeches ‘I have fallen deep in love with the sky/ Fragments of a sunbeam glaring on a kitchen knife‘ or the equally ominous ‘Scream Of The Butterfly‘ (seemingly based on a short story by Hemmingway named Hills Like White Elephants) that combines lines like ‘She smiles like a child with flowers in her hair/ With blood on her hands’ with bluesy acoustic guitar.
The 90’s was a dark time for metal, but this debut release acts a real hidden gem — a relic from a time where metal was considered outdated and antiquated. Unfortunately, Acid Bath’s reign of terror was short-lived, only managing another full length before disbanding due the sudden and tragic death of bassist Audie Pitre caused by a drunk driver, but Kite String is completely unparalleled when it comes to making music that is morbidly fascinating, everything about it screams for you to be completely disgusted but, for me at least, it’s a timeless classic that I would implore any metal fan to at least give a chance.