Figuring out how to deal with certain levels of expectations is one of the harder parts of reviewing something. For example, an album that is hyped as a ‘game-changer’ and a ‘classic-to-be’, but ultimately is nothing out of the ordinary, is going to be judged a lot more harshly than the same record when advertised as ‘a very good album for fans of the genre’. Balancing expectations, musical content, and objectivity to create a review that properly emphasizes an album’s strengths while not making sure to ignore its weaknesses is a tough task indeed.

Some bands, however, are easier to judge than others. Some artists are known for pushing the envelope, and to review an album of theirs is, in a large part, to ask the question “how experimental is it?”. The other end of this spectrum is fairly commonplace as well- oftentimes, bands find a niche within their first couple albums and stick with it across their discography. These artists are relatively easy to judge, because the review becomes more about whether they meet the bar they’ve set for themselves on previous albums.

Weedeater is definitely a group that finds themselves in the latter camp. Called “the soon-to-be gold standard of Southern sludge metal,” their new album Goliathan has the trio in similar territory to the rest of their discography- fuzzy, bluesy, and most importantly, groovy, sludge metal. The strength of Weedeater, like most sludge bands, lies in their ability to create compelling riffs. When there’s only one or two riffs per song, and they’re not good, it can ruin a 3-to-5 minute track in an instant. So, when reviewing a Weedeater album, the question one must ask is, “how good are their riffs?” And on Goliathan, they’re damn good.

The opener, “Processional“, is a little out of left field for the band — Dixie Dave throws down some clean vocals on this track over a slow, droning church organ, while some synths that sound strangely bitcrushed and chiptune-esque add texturing. After this little ditty, the album kicks into a half-hour helping of the vintage Weedeater sound: fuzzy blues-rock riffs that have been washed out and tuned down so far they seem to rise from the depths of Hell itself. These riffs are as slow and groovy as anyone could hope for from a sludge band of this caliber. It’s nothing new from the band: Weedeater does what they do, and they make sure to do it well. Every song offers a heaping helping of the band’s sound, and any fan of Weedeater will find plentiful enjoyment here. A special shoutout is necessary for the track “Claw of the Sloth” — this is Weedeater at their best, their most dynamic and riffy, and is probably the best track to use from this point forward to introduce anyone to the band. In fact, this whole record would serve as a great introduction to Weedeater — it’s more accessible than any of their other albums, and contains a good sense of everything they’ve done across their discography.

Conversely, anyone who doesn’t like the band is not going to find anything to enjoy here. This is Weedeater through and through, and if one doesn’t find anything to care about in the band’s sound, they’re certainly not going to like this. Weedeater certainly knows who their fans are, and on this album they cater to them. Although it’s Weedeater at their most accessible, that doesn’t mean it’s going to change the mind of anyone who has already established a negative opinion of the band.

Goliathan is vintage Weedeater. It’s slow, it’s fuzzy, it’s groovy, and across the whole album it showcases their ability to write great riffs. Those that appreciate the sound Weedeater brings to the table will be greatly pleased by this record: Goliathan is definitely one of the best albums the band has put out so far, and it’s a very welcome addition to the Weedeater pantheon of records. While those who don’t enjoy the band’s signature sound will find nothing here, those of us that crave more Weedeater will be spinning this record for years to come. On Goliathan, Weedeater has indeed established themselves as the gold standard of Southern sludge.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NakYRUlsn7c]

Weedeater – Goliathan gets…

3.5/5

– SH

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