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JACKASS IN THE WILL OF (EYEHATE)GOD…
By Grim Kim Kelly

JACKASS IN THE WILL OF EYEHATEGOD: Take As Needed for Pain, or Die Tryin’

Kim Kelly for CVLT Nation
Photos by Samantha Marble & Diana Lee Zadlo

I remember my first encounter with EyeHateGod with almost startling clarity, given the volume of Dixie whiskey I’ve consumed in the ensuing eight years. It was a typical Northeastern winter, veering between blustery and balmy with little or no regard for the seething mass of humanity that ducked and dodged its way through Manhattan’s busy streets and neon alcoves. It was my first time in New York City. My grandmother, whose wanderlust and love of the written word courses powerfully through my own veins, had decided to take my mother, little sister and I to the big city to celebrate New Year’s, and so there we were. I remember being dazzled by the lights, the often overwhelming din, and above all, the people. There were so many of them! In all shapes and sizes and colors! I’d never seen anything like it. Keep in mind, I come from a rural town set deep in the heart of South Jersey’s desolate crown jewel, the Pine Barrens, and it wasn’t exactly what you’d call a “diverse” kind of place. I think my grandmother was a bit overwhelmed herself, and we ended up seeking refuge behind a familiar set of beveled doors. In those days, the Virgin Megastore, with its orderly rows of shiny jewel cases and useless ”counterculture” tchotchkes, was sheer paradise for a budding metalhead. A couple years down the line I’d be spending my meager paychecks on Blut Aus Nord imports, but that day saw me in pursuit of lighter fare, as my embryonic hessian obsession was only just beginning to bloom. Passing through the first few rows, a strange CD caught my eye. “EyeHateGod?” I thought. “Whoa.”

Nestled above it, a Finger Eleven album. I remember standing there for a few moments, my eyes darting from the familiar sorta-metal I’d read about in Revolver and this new, dangerous-looking slab of mystery that I somehow couldn’t quite convince my fingers to release. There was something about it…an aura. The plastic-wrapped disc seemed almost alive.

Of course I ended up buying an Arch Enemy album (Black Earth, the only good one) and delaying my love affair with EHG’s music for a few more years, but that name remained burned into my memory. EyeHateGod. It would be years before we’d meet again, but I never forgot that moment and the chord it struck within my already godless heart… that siren’s song, that devilish gleam, the wicked that I just knew would eventually come my way…

“Kim!”

A groggy “Eh?”

“Have you checked the weather for New Orleans? My mom just called. They’re saying a hurricane’s supposed to hit this weekend!”

“Oh. Shit.”

“We’re not gonna risk it. Are you still gonna go?”

“Well, when’s it supposed to hit? I bet it’ll be fine.”

“Are you serious?!”

“Yup. Dude, it’s EyeHateGod!”

“Kim. It’s a HURRICANE.”

“…See you next week!”

And with that, I snapped my phone shut, grabbed my bag, hit the pavement, took the A train to JFK and despite my friends’ warnings, hightailed it down to NOLA. A little over three years ago, Friday, July 29th, 2008 brought both the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s wrathful visit to Nawlins, and a twentieth anniversary apiece for Eyehategod and Crowbar, two of the city’s most influential, flawed, and beloved musical progeny. They ARE New Orleans, and once I heard that they were sharing a bill at One-Eyed Jack’s, I made it my mission to get down there to see my favorite band, hang out with some friends, and undoubtedly drink my weight in whiskey. I almost didn’t make the trip due to a slew of nervous phone calls about the far-off rumblings of Hurricane Gustav that were threatening to hit Louisiana that weekend, but my reasoning was, if you’re not prepared to risk life and limb to see your favorite band, then really, what the fuck kind of fan are you?

Talk about planets colliding – this was the anniversary show to end all anniversary shows (as far as I was concerned anyway) and I just had to be there. I liked Crowbar, but I loved EyeHateGod. Their sigil had yet to be inked into my skin at that point, but the seeds had been planted firmly enough. At the time, I was a sophomore in college, living in Brooklyn while I completed two different summer internships and attempted to navigate the NYC metal scene while saddled with a very crucial handicap: my age. New York City kinda sucks if you’re under 21, and I was a grand old twenty years old at the time. However, it did mean that the demon drink had no bearing on my finances, and what little money I had could be saved and spent on other things…things like a last-minute plane ticket to New Orleans and a general admission ticket to heaven. Which is exactly what I did. A few hours later, I was swimming through the stifling Louisiana evening. My friend Clyde (currently beating the skins for The Gates of Slumber) had hooked me up with his buddy Matt Muscle (who now runs the wicked venue Siberia and destroys worlds in TireFire), who picked me up at the airport in his beat-up truck and promptly took me out for fried chicken and mint Juleps at Coop’s. Now that’s what I was talkin’ about! Amidst the excitement and sumptuous decay of the Big Easy, I forgot all about that damn hurricane, and settled in to have some fun in a town where bartenders seemed to be of the opinion that adhering to the “legal drinking age” was significantly less important than figuring out where the last beignet had gone. I remember running into a few of the Goatwhore and Ritual Killer guys in some dodgy bar in the Lower Ninth Ward, walking by a passel of voodoo emporiums, and eventually passing out at Matt’s converted warehouse space, as crickets and half-heard voices sang me to sleep.

The rest of NOLA rested uneasy that night. Still hurting, bad, from Katrina’s venomous touch, those who’d lived through hell and come out the other side were more than a little spooked. “Hurricane…hurricane…’cane…” whispers on the wind and muffled conversations kept the air thick, heavy with a palpable sense of dread that made the sludgey Southern miasmas feel weightless in comparison. Some made plans to barricade themselves in their homes, armed with provisions, guns, or liquid strength, while others hammered out their strategies for getting the fuck outta town. To add a hint of surrealism to the entire affair, a massive LGBT Pride event was scheduled to go down on that particular weekend; as Gustav crept closer, men in full bondage gear strolled through the French Quarter’s nigh empty streets, passing by the oblivious tourists and college scum on Bourbon, and rainbows peeked out gaily from many a windowsill.

It started getting to me. My nerves flared up, and I started wondering. Sometime that afternoon, it got real. Word had finally come: the city was due to be evacuated tomorrow. The city was taking no chances this time around, and any displaced Yankee within its walls was just going to have to figure it out for her damn self. Problem was, my flight was scheduled for Sunday, so I got on the horn with American Airlines and after a tense hour or so, was informed that I could be shuffled onto the last – very last! – New York-bound flight early Saturday morning. With that in mind, I made my way downtown and resolved to make every moment count. I’d spent the day taking in a touristy glimpse of the city, but as my hangover subsided and the sun went down, One-Eyed Jack’s threw open its doors, and the madness began to unfold.

Once inside, I immediately barreled my way up to the front to soak up some of Hellkontroll’s grindy, crust-caked discharge and secure the best possible position for EHG’s set. The anticipation was brutal. I was reviewing the gig and taking photos for Metal Maniacs (R.I.P.) so I got a bit more leeway than the average punter; that, coupled with the fact that I’d already known Brian Patton for a year or two thanks to Soilent Green’s brutal tour schedule, meant that my beyond-giddy self ended up perched on the side of the stage, arms’ length from Patton’s guitar strings. They took their places. Joey beat a lackadasical tattoo on his snare – “Pus-sy and her-o-in…pus-sy and her-o-in”…

Feedback washed across the stage, lapping at my eardrums and beckoning us forward into the abyss. It had begun.

Chaos reigned. A grinning Mike Williams led the crowd in a roaring “Fuck Gustav” chant as he held onto the mic stand for dear life. As the rest of the band slammed into a highlight reel of sludgecore classics and unveiled three brand-new songs, Williams raged like a madman, writhing about on the ground and dangling off the edge of the stage. EyeHateGod were a hot mess, clawing their way through what ended up as a mostly-instrumental set, one that included the immortal “ Jackass in the Will of God,” “Serving Time in the Middle of Nowhere,” “Blank/Shoplift,” and to my immense delight, “Dixie Whiskey.” The death-dealing dream team of Jimmy Bower and Brian Patton churned out riff after decimating riff, heavier than sin and fueled by firewater. Basslines throbbed and cut deep, and Joey LaCaze beat the life out of his drums, pounding away with all the fury of a man born too late. The crowd surged, fists flailing, blood spraying, hearts beating. Patton handed me a shot of bourbon -a white lightning strike to the gut. Total euphoria. I spent most of their too-short set hunched over, hair in my eyes, neck wrecking, bowing down again and again to the unholy power of the riff. One does not simply headbang to EHG; one is sucked downwards then thrown back out, off-balance, off-kilter, possessed. The power of the riff compels, repels, grapples with your puny frame. Volume knobs bleed. Louder, slower, harder, faster, meaner. Four doomed souls working together in tireless, precarious harmony. Swaggering, sneering, slithery strings of notes, strung together, strung out. Missed notes, broken strings, dropped sticks, twisted riffs, mangled blues, jackbooted punk rock. King Buzzo’s evil twins. Iommi’s Satan spawn. Anarcho-blues. Delta doom. Ugly. Angry. Festering. A fever dream. Whiskey fumes. Ritual abuse. Amplifier worship. Black Sabbath, Black Flag, black tar. Blood money. Riot gear. Broken down but not locked up. Cancer as a social activity. Kill your boss. Take as needed for pain. Lack of everything, but Eye. Hate. God.

Needless to say, it was all worth it.

Three years down the line, I’ve drawn ever closer to the band, both personally and musically. The respect and affection they command is intense; the four guys behind the tunes are some of the most genuine, kind, intelligent human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and every time our paths cross, it’s one helluva good time. I’ve soaked them in eight more times since that first run, and cannot wait to see how number 10 will pop off. That siren song finally pulled me in.

As plenty of you will surely agree, EyeHateGod are a special band. They’re an acquired taste, but an addictive one. Everything is just right, forever teetering on the edge of total destruction, but somehow always pulling back just far enough to keep you guessing. An inspiration to many and beloved friends to many more, Southern metal icons, reluctant pioneers of the “sludge” sound, rock’n’roll survivors, punk rock hooligans, poets and fiends, EyeHateGod are above all human – flawed, fucked up, but honest. I think that’s what we love most about them. Say what you will about them, but they are one of the last truly, wholly, uncomfortably honest bands going. They’ll look you straight in the eye and spit in your face, but then again, you know you probably had it comin’.

EyeHateGod didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they sure as hell hijacked it, burned rubber all the way out to the ghetto, set that shit alight, inhaled the swamp gas, snorted the ashes, then wrote a bunch of fucking awesome songs.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. FRED G

    November 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Wow Kim, this ruled. I enjoyed that whole incredibly detailed story about your experiences with them. Shit makes me wanna see em again! Miss you, and you amaze me how active you are for the scene. Your unstoppable.

  2. Kevin

    September 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    God damn that was beautiful. Great article Kim glad to see you writing for this site. Eyehategod will remain one of my favorite bands ever and you basically took me back to when I first saw em. So great.

  3. Michael Bernier

    September 16, 2011 at 9:21 am

    That was a really good article that described that band to a “T”! You are a good writer, and I miss “Metal Maniacs” too dammit!

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