Despite how influential they were to some bands and how highly many in the metal underground thought of them, Noothgrush seemed doomed to become a footnote in history. The band only was active from 1994 through their dissolution in 2001, and while they produced plenty of split and mini-efforts, they’re only credited with one true full-length.
Some recent developments look to be changing Noothgrush’s profile, and the sun certainly hasn’t set on the band’s career. The group reunited this year for a series of live performances, including playing the Power of the Riff fest, and Southern Lord has a special new CD/vinyl release to capitalize on the resurgence of Noothgrush called “Live for Nothing.” The colleection is made up of from two live radio performances – a 1996 set from KZSU and a 1999 show from KFJC – and for anyone new to the band’s sludgy fury, or who need another excellent piece to add to their collection, this is an incredible compilation.
The double-CD/vinyl set runs about an hour and 20 minutes, and the set gives you a great view into what made the band so special and why their music moved the people who followed them. Any listeners new to Noothgrush who have an affinity for better-known doom/sludge pioneers such as Burning Witch, Winter, Buzzov*en, Sleep and Eyehategod likely won’t know what hit them and probably will wonder where this band’s been all their lives. It’s understandable to feel that, and if you feel the need to start collecting this Noothgrush’s music, I’ll give you some links at the end of the story to help with your treasure hunt. It’s a monetary and artistic venture in which you’ll definitely want to invest.
The band’s lyrical content deals with misanthropy and self-loathing, as one might expect from this genre, but they even tossed in a little “Star Wars” fun just to keep things interesting. After all, the first set kicks off with the song “Sith,” and eventually they hit back with “Jundland Wastes” “Dianoga,” and short, simple “Evazan,” where vocalist/bassist Gary Niederhoff howls, “He doesn’t like you/Sorry/I don’t like you either.” Anyone instantly familiar with that line surely won’t be able to stop from smirking. I know I couldn’t help it. It’s one of those kooky elements to an otherwise heavy-as-hell unit that realized there needs to be some levity in the pit of hell that is their music. All of those tracks, by the way, are found on the first disc/record, the ’96 set.
The first set is eight cuts of low-end, bruising and drubbing doom that’s downright suffocating at times. Neiderhoff’s grumble and growl sounds both depressed and aggravated, drummer Chiyo Nukaga keeps a calculated, punishing pace, and guitarist Russ Kent (otherwise known as Mr. Hate) keeps things sweltering and morbidly dark, occasionally leaning in with some banshee-like vocals of his own. By the way, Kent’s also currently plying his trade with Oakland dark punk band Alaric, with whom we visited yesterday. Other than the Star Wars-related cuts from the KZSU performance, we also get “Erode the Person,” which Neiderhoff jokingly calls the band’s “other short song” (it’s the longest cut on either disc/record at 8:56); the NOLA-style groove of “Derrell’s Porn Song”; and a completely bad-ass cover of the Celtic Frost classic “Procreation of the Wicked” that this band makes sound even more ominous.
The KFJC portion practically is an entirely different run of cuts, with “Derrell’s Porno Song” as the only bit of overlap, and it’s the more apocalyptic of the two sets. “Oil Removed” kicks off the festivities with a healthy serving of muddy riffs and slow-drubbing pain, and that leads into the ultra-lumbering “Made Uncomfortable By Others’ Pain”; the sludgy, groove-laced “Starvation”; the swampy drowning of “Useless,” where Neiderhoff and Kent do a nice bit of vocal tradeoff, each trying to convince you he’s more off balance than the other guy; “Hatred for Species,” a song that basically describes itself; and closer “Friends of Mine,” that is born into feedback and noisy power, hangs in the air for a while, then beats you to death slowly. It’s a fitting end for such an expansive, brutal collection.
If you like what you hear on “Live for Nothing” and want to find more stuff from Noothgrush, it isn’t the easiest feat to accomplish. But you do have some options listed below in their “Erode the Person” vinyl, recently released by Blind Date Records that stands as what the band hoped to release originally under this title, along with original artwork. If you live in the U.S., you can get it through Parasitic Records. If you want something really early from the band, Fuck Yoga Records is releasing a self-titled CD/record that culls songs the band recorded shortly after their formation and only were available on cassette up to the point. There also is a special T-shirt you can grab with it that looks pretty impressive. Southern Lord also offers a T with the vinyl package that will not be sold separately.
“Live for Nothing” is a comprehensive history lesson and a trip back to doom/sludge’s formative years, and clearly this band should be far more well-known and embraced than it is. But it’s better that their glory comes late than never, and their reformation, along with this excellent release, should act as a launching point for one of the best, yet unheralded, doom bands of all time.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.myspace.com/noothgrush
To buy “Live for Nothing,” go here: http://www.southernlord.com/store.php
For more on the label, go here: http://www.southernlord.com/
To buy their re-released 1994 self-titled effort, go here: http://www.hellmilitia.com/
To buy “Erode the Person,” go here: http://www.blinddaterecords.de/index.php
If you live in the U.S., but “Erode” here: http://parasiticrecords.blogspot.com/