Corrections House bring together metal royalty on unpredictable ‘Last City Zero’

corrections housePutting together members of two of the most influential and respected metal bands of the past 20 years sounds like a sure way to get people excited for a new project. Then you throw in two guys who earned their reputations more recently and also have penchants for destroying formulas and going their own way, and that’s enough the drive excitement through the roof.

That’s what you get with Corrections House, the union of vocalist Mike IX Williams of the unstoppable, revered Eyehategod (as well as other bands like The Guilt of… and Arson Anthem, among others) and guitarist Scott Kelly of the mighty, oft imitated Neurosis, has arrived, and sonically it has brought with it sounds you might not totally expect if you’ve followed their storied, hallowed careers. Joining them are Bruce Lamont, whose Yakuza is one of the most inventive, genre-busting acts going in metal, who brings his powerful sax and voice to this group, as well as Sanford Parker (Minsk, Twilight, ex-Nachtmystium), who adds programming and keyboards to this swath of sound. So yeah, the sum of all parts is a little different than what I expected, and I’m sure many of you will feel the same way, but damn it if it doesn’t work beautifully.

correction house coverCorrections House certainly bring their share of doom and gloom metal to the party, but there are more electronic elements, punk and post-punk, as well as ranting spoken word that turns this band into something completely unpredictable and quite volatile. As these eight songs on their debut album “Last City Zero” play out, the interest builds, and panic sets in, and you’re wondering just where these guys are going and how far off the rails they’re willing to travel. That looseness and sense of danger, as well as their willingness to put all of their demons, anger, and frustrations out there in ways in which any human can relate, make this record even more powerful and Corrections House a band that certainly sounds like it could have a nice, long life as long as they can work out all of their members’ schedules. Let’s hope that’s the case.

The record opens with “Serve or Survive,” and right away you’ll understand you’re in for a completely different experience, not just from these guys’ respective bands but from all of extreme music in general. Williams chants over and over, “The travel of the stone,” which might help you slip into that trance sense they’re trying to achieve, and the seeping guitars and thick synth then are broken apart by static, an eruption of noise, and soulful yowling that makes the destructive conclusion that much more fiery. “Bullets and Graves” shoots off a round of electronic beats that works its way into Ministry-style demolition and psychosis, with a savage assault, and spacey, stabbing sax. “Party Leg and Three Fingers” opens with solitary beats and a mucky, muddy guitar assault, with fierce yelling, doom sludge that adds metallic tonnage, and more sax that flutters in the atmosphere. The song is menacing, dark, and seemingly devoid of hope, and it’s as heavy as a ton of bricks. “Run Through the Night” opens with acoustic flourishes and a synth haze, before sax rings out and Williams launches into Mark Lanegan-style quivery vocals. Guitars begin to fire up behind everything, creating a drone flurry, and Williams begins on a rant of spoken verses, something that he returns to later in the record.

“Dirt Poor and Mentally Ill” has a darkwave feel to it, and if you’re truly deranged, it’s something you might even be able to dance to, albeit not out of celebration or anything. The growls are grimey, the beats sound like stones being whipped against the side of a house, and the final minutes of the song are as rage filled and painful as anything else on this album. “Hallows of the Stream” has a Western rock feel to it, with Williams’ vocals sounding not unlike Tom Waits. The song pounds you slowly, with Lamont’s sax adding alien texture, and plodding noise and static messing with your mind as the song drowns. The title cut has a clean start, but that serenity is short lived as Williams begins on a poetic dissertation that raises questions, stabs at society, and generally leaves a ton of mental scars. A wordless harmony eventually rises up behind to add melody, and this epic dose of reality should leave you spinning and wondering about everything around you. The closing cut “Drapes Hung By Jesus” is the longest track at 9:40, and it feels like a piece that was built organically, with each member adding their own two cents as the tempo and tension build. Beats kick in, steely riffs begin to maul, and screams are buried behind this trancey puzzle. As the song reaches its conclusion, the fury bubbles over, with sax and drone welling up, and savage screams and howls erupting, adding one final molten diatribe to a record full of them. This is one hell of an exclamation point.

It already was an interesting idea, this Corrections House project, when the lineup was announced, but it’s hard to say anyone could have predicted what we would hear on “Last City Zero.” It’s an astonishing, unsettling, pulverizing record that is unlike anything else you’ll hear from the extreme music world this year. It’s the culmination of four unique forces who meld together expertly to create noise and chaos in a manner only they can realize. Hopefully there’s a lot more to come from this band, because it seems they’ve only scratched the surface.

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