Artist: Chat Pile
Album: God’s Country
Label: The Flenser
Release Date: 29/07/2022
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
After what felt like an eternity of waiting its finally here, another Chat Pile album, this time by the name of God’s Country. But given how high my hopes have been for this release, will it live up to my unrealistic expectations? The answer is a resounding yes, in fact to the extent that this is a STRONG contender for album of the year.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of listening to Oklahoma City’s Chat Pile, the band play a blend of noise rock, post-hardcore, sludge, hardcore, industrial, and harsh noise. Yes, I’m aware that I’ve listed a lot of very different genres here, but the band are just that diverse in their sound, style and influence. The band’s greatest strength is their ability to capture not just the sound and style of each of these genres, but their energy and essence too. Regardless of what any segment of a song sounds like, you just know that the band have given it 100% and that it works perfectly in the overall mix.
Lyrically the band focus on real life hardships, societal issues, drug use, depression and other hard-hitting topics and themes. The band also draw on what they call “the fatalism of daily life in the American Midwest”, a theme on display in their album cover. In fact, the band even go so far as to describe the album in this way:
“There’s a sick irony to how a country that extols rhetoric of individual freedom, in the same gasp, has no problem commodifying human life as if it were meat to feed the insatiable hunger of capitalism. If this is American nihilism taken to its absolute zenith, then God’s Country, the first full length record from Oklahoma City noise rock quartet Chat Pile is the aural embodiment of such a concept.”
With that understanding of the themes behind the album we can look at the music itself. There’s a real darkness behind the album and not in the way that black metal or doom metal bands create. This is a real-life darkness that draws upon very real everyday human suffering. This is the same source for the album’s biting aggression, of which there is plenty. However, the aggression on the album never feels forced or excessive, because the band know exactly how and when to implement it. They work it into the mix alongside an equal focus on atmosphere and technicality. Each track also chooses a different formula of how these focuses should be blended and in which ratio.
A key element behind the album’s greatness are the vocals. They’re raw and biting yet at the same time equally depressive and emotional. There aren’t many vocalists that can pull of this blend as perfectly as Raygun Busch. At any given moment he will either sound like he’s ready to knock you out or slit his own wrists, that’s the scope of emotion that he presents on each and every track on the album. The moments where he essentially speaks the lyrics yet relinquishes almost none of his emotional output are some of my favourites on the album. Personally, I’ve always loved this post-hardcore/noise rock vocal style, the depressive spoken/very slightly sung style. Then on the other end of the spectrum his actual harsh/shouted segments have real power behind them and bring a lot of raw aggression to the album.
Instrumentally the band are equally as fantastic as whole, however I must give MASSIVE praise to Stin for what is easily my favourite bass performance of the year. What can I say, they play bass on another level to most of their contemporaries in any of the genre’s they draw influence from. The tone is thick, the energy is high, there’s some serious technicality in there and yet never at the expense of the atmosphere that this bass helps to build. The guitar work from Luther Manhole is also highly impressive, offering many of the same qualities as the aforementioned bass, with maybe a little more technicality and tonal diversity. Lastly but not least we have drummer Captain Ron who brings an incredible amount of energy to the album, but also knows exactly how to create a diverse offering, simmering things right down when needed to or assaulting the listener relentlessly when required.
Favourite tracks on the album are not any easy thing to pick, but I think I can narrow it to four but just know that the rest of the album is VERY close behind; there isn’t even a song on the album that I dislike. In order of appearance my first favourite track is track 2 Why this is just a solid song that discusses homelessness and showcases a great blend of aggression, rawness and heaviness. Second would be track 3 Pamela (possibly my overall favourite on the album), this is just depressive atmosphere central. I absolutely love the guitar tones employed on this one and the depressive spoken word/semi-sung vocals. Third we have track 5 Anywhere because I just can’t get enough of the central bassline on this track. I also love the mix of energies on the song, the minimalistic yet highly memorable riffs, the use of spoken word/semi-shouted vocals and the super catchy chorus. Track 9 grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg is by far the longest song on the album and presents us with some of the heaviest music on the release, the band also play with noise and drone elements a little more on this one in parts. This is a monster of a track from start to finish and is essential listening for anyone who enjoys the band’s music.
Overall, this is one hell of an album and is in my opinion the band’s finest work to date. As mentioned, this is a contender for album of the year for me and I’m fairly sure it will be for many other people to. There’s just something special about both this band and this album and what they’ve created here is an album that I can see becoming a cult classic. People will talk about this album the way they discuss albums such as Spiderland, Songs About Fucking or Goat. So don’t sleep on this, be a part of the album’s rise to eternal greatness.