Keelhaul - Subject to change without notice [HydraHead - 2004]HydraHead just doesn’t want to stop providing the goods when it comes to releasing uncompromisingly heavy music. Keelhaul’s latest album comes as yet another proof…
Subject to change without notice is the band’s third album. Keelhaul comes from Cleveland, Ohio and play a mostly instrumental, mostly heavy and down-tuned music. That they hit hard shouldn’t come as a surprise: the band features ex-members of Integrity and Craw, among others.
Keelhaul had the reputation to be one of those frantic math-core bands à la Botch: fast changing tempos, high technical level, polyrhythm… Things have changed. Of course you still get some quite high velocity bits, but now their songs are a tad more repetitive. By repetitive, I mean that they engage in the same kind of trance-inducing and more or less lengthy passages as The Swans or Isis, but with a much more “metallic” sound. Actually, Subject to change… sounds like some album recorded by metallurgists, by men who are as hard when it comes to their music as they are on their working place. However, for Keelhaul it is not enough to crush your head via their heavy “antics”: they are also able to come up with some softer, more melodic pieces, allowing themselves to make way for some intricate instrumentation.
In combining math-core and sludge-core, Keelhaul might just have done the right thing. I don’t think they would be able to top a band like Botch or to “equal” the greatness of releases of more drone oriented bands such as Pelican. But what they do is something new, a very enthusing personal take on both worlds.
At times, Subject to change without notice can get a little boring, but its “punishing” qualities make me forget everything and actually enjoy this album quite a lot.François Monti