The definition of Dopesick is as follows: the experience of negative symptoms due to withdrawal from medication, particularly from opiates. Eyehategod are a band well versed in drug use and its majorly adverse effects on the human body; they convey this feeling through their compositions and the very personal content from vocalist Mike Williams, a man who has ample experience with the trials and tribulations of drug abuse. For those unfamiliar with the band their sound is the combination of Black Sabbath’s riffs, My War-era Black Flag’s tempo as well as Saint Vitus’ signature guitar tone, which creates an intoxicating blend. Dopesick is the band’s 3rd album and considered by some to be their best; let’s have a listen.
Opening with the track ‘My Name Is God (I Hate You)’ you are greeted with Mike Williams’ tortured vocals as the song’s slow pace feels like he is spiralling into madness. The song eventually speeds up, as he may be experiencing the high off of his drugs, then it slows into pain and madness, yet again. The man behind the guitar here is Down’s very own drummer Jimmy Bower and he is quite the riff master as seen on the fast and frantic pace of ‘Dog’s Holy Life‘. Joey LaCaze‘s drums pace the song and Bower strums heavily along with Williams continuing to feel the pain.
It should be noted that on ‘Dixie Whiskey‘ the band sound like a tortured Black Sabbath and you can clearly see that particular band’s influence. The riffs are slow, yet catchy; Bowers fully utilizes the battering power of LaCaze, Williams, and himself as they drive this train just short of going in for rehab. This might just be one of the easiest listens on the album, which is testament to the simpler structure found here, however this is still an Eyehategod song, so it’s unlikely to win the band any new listeners. The feedback on ‘Ruptured Heart Theory‘ should be noted as it compliments the excruciating drag found within, allowing the band to achieve the perfect mood of feeling helpless and in dire need of relief. Considering the subject matter this is an obvious bonus, and for those of you who choose to immerse yourself in the manufactured atmospheres of records there is a certain air of desperation to be found, that will tug seductively on your lapels.
With ‘Lack Of Almost Everything‘ the band have put together a composition that seems to have a heavy focus on the hardcore spectrum, yet at the same time, freely bathing in the signature sludge of the Louisiana swamps. This is accomplished while still shredding ear drums with feedback and William’s anguished howls. The variation of tempos is what makes for a more interesting listen time and again; it is also what makes this album a classic for the genre. ‘Zero Nowhere‘ sees Bower once again channel his inner Tony Iommi, for his penchant for riffs seems to know no bounds. Drummer LaCaze has no problem slowing with his fellow band mates and yet you’re still able to find enough uneasy qualities in his playing to maintain that unique Eyehategod sound.
‘Peace Thru War (Thru Peace And War)‘ is another hardcore song that can slow to emphasize a riff and with ample feedback; more of what makes the band different than their sludge peers as they are a bit dissimilar from Crowbar yet are more like Soilent Green and Buzzov*en. Ending my analysis with the the album’s final song ‘Anxiety Hangover‘ which begins as most of them have with feedback and Williams at the epicentre of all the chaos. It is a fitting bookend for the album as this and ‘My Name Is God (I Hate You)‘ feature just about the same style, yet unlike the former this song features slight a style variation and more Sabbathian riffs, which is just the perfect note to end on. The album absolutely seems to die at the end as there is just about no more fitting way to end an album about the toils of drug use.
Through all of this Dopesick remains Eyehategod’s most critically acclaimed work with my favourite Take As Needed For Pain being a critical 2nd. It has also been just about 13 years since the band has put out an LP but since their 2012 single New Orleans Is The New Vietnam and constant touring, you have to imagine a new full length is just around the corner. Feel free to drop me a comment about a band you’d like to see covered, or just leave one as a sign of good faith. For what I’m currently listening to you can always check out my Last.fm page. Prepare for sludge and doom! See you all next week!