Oklahoma City’s Chat Pile crept up from the underground to the greater hardcore consciousness with a pair of EPs in 2019, introducing them and their sludgy take on noise

2 years ago

Oklahoma City’s Chat Pile crept up from the underground to the greater hardcore consciousness with a pair of EPs in 2019, introducing them and their sludgy take on noise rock and post-punk to the world. At that time, comparisons to mathcore stalwarts Daughters were inevitable, as we weren’t even a year removed from their acclaimed comeback record You Won’t Get What You Want, and the Jesus Lizard-worshiping mix of anxious rhythms and unhinged, rambling vocal performances put the two squarely in the same ballpark. The years since have been kind to Chat Pile as good will and anticipation grew for their debut; they signed to weirdo boutique label The Flenser and put out a split with blackened hardcore favorites Portrayal of Guilt, raising their stock in the underground. Touring plans were surely soured by COVID to follow, but Chat Pile’s word-of-mouth spread and exposure through the pandemic has been remarkable and well-earned on their own.

Now, the elephant in the room: during Chat Pile’s rise, allegations against Daughters’ Alexis Marshall tainted that band’s comeback to the point where I can’t even be bothered to listen to their records anymore, and I’m not the only one  — understandably, given the circumstances — who struggles with separating the art from the artist. It’s unfair to Chat Pile to be in a position of having to replace some former scene darlings — something they’d never asked for, nor intended to do — but the sound Chat Pile has developed is so specific that it’s unlikely to have been uninformed by Daughters’ long history, and that’s great; that’s how the evolution of music is supposed to work. So where does that leave us? God’s Country stands to be the next logical conclusion and evolutionary branch following You Won’t Get What You Want, particularly if the greater community decides that path has become a dead end.

The framework’s all there with God’s Country, and more. Immediately, opening track and lead single “Slaughterhouse” sees the band building layers of contorting and lumbering guitars atop hypnotic and unsettling quasi-industrial rhythms. Chat Pile feels on the brink of collapse all through their second single “Why,” an easy highlight of confrontational sludgy post-punk wherein frontman Raygun Busch bellows apocalyptic sermons about the American Horror Story of homelessness in spite of our nation’s great access and excess of capital. One might confuse the band for misanthropic through the ever-encroaching darkness on God’s Country, were it not for the compassionate and socially conscious lyrics throughout. Granted, the penultimate track “I Don’t Care If I Burn” is a haunting half-sung vocalization of a murder fantasy, but there’s heart here.

Not to discount the infectious acrobatic punk of “Wicked Puppet Dance” (this album’s “The Flammable Man” if there was one), and the grungy, almost shoegazey “Anytime,” but perhaps the biggest revelation of God’s Country is its surprisingly heavy-handed nu-metal revivalism. The record is seemingly as informed by Korn’s early works as much as it is by Daughters or Godflesh. No, there’s no turnablism or rapping, but “Pamela” feels borne of Korn’s 1994 self-titled with its plodding pace and loose, dissonant guitars, and “Tropical Beaches, Inc” is as bouncy and brutal as 2002 hit “Here To Stay”, with Busch signaling the song’s outro with a very Jonathan Davis-esque “get the fuck up!” This marriage of nu metal and noise rock feels somewhat perverse, yet the sounds compliment each other well. Hell, if Mr. Bungle was the blueprint for the nu-metal riff, Chat Pile offers a similarly twisted way back out. Is it out of line to accuse Chat Pile of gentrifying Korn riffs for hipsters? No shade; I’m absolutely loving it.

The disparate elements of sludge, nu-metal, and noise rock that define Chat Pile all come together most perfectly (while reaching their logical conclusion) on the epic and horrific 9-minute outro “grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg” (that’s the title), which is a song exactly about what the title says it’s about. “Purple man, stop coming into my room!” screams Busch over lumbering groove metal riffs that eventually break apart into death throes of sludgy guitar fragments and wailing feedback. It’s as psychotic as it sounds. Not quite as traumatic as notorious Korn closer “Daddy,” but perhaps equally as unsettling as lyrics referencing drugs and suicide come into play.

Even with all this talk of Korn, it’s highly unlikely Chat Pile will be headlining think pieces about nu-metal’s revival alongside the likes of Nova Twins and Tallah, and will instead find more fitting company in the realm of sludge metal and hardcore, or whatever extreme avant garde pulls through the halls of Saint Vitus. God’s Country feels like a fresh take on the Ross Robinson-produced albums of the 90’s and early 2000’s (which, let’s not forget, also includes records from Glassjaw, At The Drive-In, The Cure, and Norma Jean), all while dethroning Daughters by sounding something like Dark Mode Talking Heads. God’s Country is a hypnotic, deeply unsettling, and absolutely crucial record that has all the potential to set the ground work for Chat Pile to become cultural phenomenon for the specific type of music nerds (like me) who listen to both Black Country, New Road and Blood Incantation alike

Chat Pile’s debut album God’s Country is out July 29th, 2022 on The Flenser. Pre-orders are available at this location or by clicking through the Bandcamp Player above.

Jimmy Rowe

Published 2 years ago