"Slaughterhouse." Ty Segall Band. Despite the fact that the term was always a tongue-in-cheek description of its scummy sound, grunge has morphed from an underground punk sub-genre of the late '80s and early '90s into an almost universally despised brand of ham-fisted arena rock.
After Nirvana imploded and clued-in audiences turned to electronica, hip-hop and indie rock, nothing could be worse than being pinned as a grunge band.
Largely, this is due to the fact that neo-grunge practitioners such as Creed, Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd took the concept, ditched the punk rock element in favor of good old tough-guy metal posturing, and applied constipated vocal techniques to the point of being a bad Eddie Vedder parody. Grunge has become everything it initially railed against: boring, uninspired corporate rock.
Enter the ultra-prolific Ty Segall, a young workhorse who has studied the art of rock 'n' roll from its high points of the mid-to-late '60s garage rock, '70s metal and '80s punk, channeling them into his distinct brand of loud and scuzzy hard rock. Listening to his second release of this year (with a third album to drop in the fall) and first with his "band," one can't help but hear through the walls of guitar carnage the sound of grunge getting its teeth back.
"Slaughterhouse" begins with the throttled feedback of "Death," a wickedly nasty opener that surges to life at a minute and a half with The Who-meets-Black Sabbath riffs and eerie harmonies. Segall is renowned for his balance of melody and mayhem, and the sweet jangle-pop of "I Bought My Eyes" is punctuated with bursts of distortions and mangled guitar solos. "Muscle Man" nods to early White Stripes, while "Oh, Mary" has its DNA lifted from Mudhoney's sludgy attack, in what amounts to a bubble-gum pop song getting a punk-rock punch in the nose.
By the time the album reaches the bad-trip dissonance of "Fuzz War," it fades out, leaving the feeling of being thoroughly eviscerated by one of the baddest bands to currently stalk the earth.
Every living inch of "Slaughterhouse" is so ridiculous in its ability to gnaw your face off that it almost feels like too much of a good thing and can sometimes drift into self-indulgent noise breakdowns. But those are also the qualities that make "Slaughterhouse" such an amazing and nearly perfect rock album -- it's unapologetic, willfully abrasive and couldn't care less whether you take it or leave it.
And, it bears a strong resemblance to the type of undiluted racket that found its way out of Pacific Northwest wilderness before the suits nurtured it into a flaccid marketing term.
Ty Segall and his band of cronies have crafted a crude masterwork here, a rabid, finger-flipping blitzkrieg that is absolutely one of this year's best.