Perhaps Bludded Head’s most distinguishing characteristic is vocalist/guitarist Nevada Hill’s light voice. Backdropped by his band’s pulsating, stomping beats and loud, growling riffage, his vocal instrument is more in keeping with punk than doom, a genre seemingly populated entirely by enraged Cookie Monsters. But that’s not to say native Fort Worthian Hill’s guttural screech doesn’t fit. It does nicely, both on his Denton band’s self-titled 2012 debut LP and new full-length cassette.
Recorded in one weekend at Eagle Audio Recording on the Near Southside and produced by half of the Fort Worth doom-metal duo Pinkish Black, frontman Daron Beck, who also contributes some keyboard and vocal work, Bludded Death surges like an obsidian tsunami, a monstrous force of nature that pushes you away as its majesty demands your rapt attention. Hill’s bloodcurdling screams definitely don’t make the music accessible –– they’re pretty intense, and there’s no telling what he’s saying/shouting –– but they’re high-pitched enough to give Bludded Head a welcome punk edge. They also give the band the imprimatur of punk rock, surely an advantage in doom, a genre in which many purveyors sound (and look) alike.
Hill said he chose to work with Beck partially out of friendship: “I also realized he would be great to have in the studio, so I can just play and not have to make a decision about which take of a song to use. Also, he’s honest and will tell you if something blows. He has fresh ears for the material.”
Angry, dramatic, and malevolent, the 35-minute-long four-track album is a masterstroke of controlled chaos, the sound of virtuosi circumventing technique for pure emotion. And that emotion is aggression. Though there is some blown-out drone, there are lots of changes, forming a gothic sonic architecture that’s dizzying and terrifying. Bludded Death is some weird, wild, frighteningly seductive shit.
“I wanted this album to have more experimentation with the studio, experimentation as far as adding background vocals, pedal steel on one song, and adding piano overdubs for more texture,” Hill said.
To engineer the record, Britt Robisheaux (The Theater Fire, Drug Mountain) was an obvious choice. “I wanted to record with Britt because we understand each other’s aesthetic,” Hill said. “I had heard a few of his recordings and liked them.”
Eagle Audio also is where Hill’s first band, a punk outfit, made its first recording: “It was interesting coming back to Eagle Audio 10 years later with a little more knowledge about working in a studio.”
Bludded Head, Robisheaux said, is the most “honest-sounding music I know. There’s no pretense, no trickery, and you’d be hard pressed to find another band to draw a real comparison to.”
The album was recorded straight to tape with minimal editing.
“What you hear,” Robisheaux continued, “is how the band sounded in the room. That’s not something a lot of bands can do.”
Released by Sleeping Giant Glossolalia, a Brooklyn-based indie label, Bludded Death is closer “to the aural vision that I have in my head than [Bludded Head], so I’m in love with it,” Hill said.
Hill and bassist Ryan Williams are the only remaining members from the recording session. Drummer Beth Doods has been replaced by David Saylor, and cellist Darcy Neal is gone. “People come and go depending on what is going on in their lives,” Hill said. “I have gotten used to the lineup changes.”
Bludded Head will celebrate the release of Bludded Death on Tuesday, May 13, with Prizehog and Spacebeach in Dallas at Three Links (2704 Elm St.). The band plans to embark on a two week-long East Coast tour in late May and upon returning record a two-song EP for a SGG split. Hill and company intend to hit the road again, in August, for a two and a half week-long tour of the West Coast. June and July are “up in the air,” Hill said, “because of the treatments I have to go through” –– Hill has been battling cancer for months. He said he’s doing well, though, and he’s as indefatigable as his band’s music: “The cancer is a bump in the road that I will have to deal with the rest of my life or until some billion-dollar pharmaceutical company finds the cure. Bludded Head will go on until time collapses because I will never die.”
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