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Acid Bath - "Paegan Terrorism Tactics" (CD)

Acid Bath - "Paegan Terrorism Tactics" CD cover image

"Paegan Terrorism Tactics" track listing:

1. Paegan Love Song (5:40)
2. Bleed Me An Ocean (6:15)
3. Graveflower (6:07)
4. Diäb Soulé (4:34)
5. Locust Spawning (4:40)
6. Old Skin (1:11)
7. New Death Sensation (6:44)
8. Venus Blue (4:42)
9. 13 Fingers (4:10)
10. New Corpse (3:21)
11. Dead Girl (24:08)
12. Ode of the Paegan (1:39)

Reviewed by on January 20, 2009

"While the instruments never become so sluggish to warrant a “drone” tag, they do get muddled down somewhere around the “doom” and “sludge” categories during their slower moments."

The broken up Louisiana group Acid Bath achieved a good deal of notoriety in their local scene during the early 1990’s, for their musical ability as much as for rumors of weird practice habits and severe drug abuse. They went on to influence many different bands when the death metal and thrash scenes where still wobbling around on their toddler legs. “Paegan Terrorism Tactics” was their final full-length release before in-fighting and the death of bassist Audie Pitre finally brought the band to an untimely end.

The initial guitar riffs on opening track “Paegan Love Song” are moderately heavy but done in a style that will clearly distinguish them from more modern metal acts. The first scream might give the impression that Acid Bath is going for a death metal approach with some 80’s or early 90’s style rock trappings, but the warbled clean vocals quickly take over and dominate much of the song. A few more death growls pop up here and there, along with some completely off the wall punk screaming. As the song progresses the guitars switch from a hard rock style to something more akin to an eerie black metal solo and then eventually slow way down while still retaining their heavy feel. The slower tempo guitars remain a dominant force in many of the songs, frequently appearing for long stretches before a track needs a little faster kick to complement the harsher vocals. While the instruments never become so sluggish to warrant a “drone” tag, they do get muddled down somewhere around the “doom” and “sludge” categories during their slower moments.

“Bleed Me An Ocean” plays out quite a bit like “Paegan Love Song,” with a bit more continuity as it remains pretty uniformly at the doom speed, although with more clean vocals. At several points during the first few songs on the album it almost seems like the term “metal” doesn’t quite fit these sounds until another unexpected throaty scream or particularly distorted guitar part appears out of nowhere. “Graveflower” puts the heavy guitar tones on hold for a moment and has a very odd bass driven sound that gives the song a dream-like and hazy quality common to stoner metal tracks, which makes the vocals about waking up stoned and seeing ghosts much more effective. By the time “Diab Soule” shows up, a listener should not only be hooked but the album’s more extreme aspects become much more apparent as the screams get more raspy, more frequent, and the guitars start to reach their heaviest point.

The fifth track “Locust Spawning” is one of the highlights of “Paegan Terrorism Tactics,” with its almost thrashy guitar part that switches from the left to right speaker periodically, theatric whispers in the background, and mostly screaming vocals layered over each other. While the main hook of the song may seem like it’s been done many times before that’s because it came out back in 1996, when this sort of thing was still fresh. Acid Bath dips into the darker corners of the stoner style with the short interlude “Old Skin” when a deep and distorted voice hypnotically recites disturbing lyrics obviously born of a seriously bad drug trip. An unexpected moment occurs when the nightmare of “Old Skin” ends and the reverie “New Death Sensation” starts up with an acoustic guitar and soft singing. The heartfelt vocals and rhythmic guitar tones produce a trance much like “Old Skin,” but in the exact opposite direction.

After the final track “Dead Girl” there are twenty minutes of silence to wade through for a secret track that continues where “Old Skin” left off, except that it goes in a much more disquietingly sexual direction and is much more over the top with its epic drum beat. It never becomes apparent whether Acid Bath is attempting to be disturbingly humorous or if the track is supposed to be taken seriously, but either way it still manages to work.

The exact style of Acid Bath isn’t entirely clear, even after listening to “Paegan Terrorism Tactics” multiple times. If the death metal vocals were dropped some of the songs could easily hit a rock radio station, but there are just as many creepy or heavy moments overall to keep it in the collection of metal heads who crave musical innovation and wouldn’t touch the radio dial with a ten foot pole. The album could potentially appeal to fans of stoner rock, death metal, doom, sludge, or anyone with a taste of the New Orleans metal scene.

Highs: Vocals switch seamlessly between mutiple styles, disturbing interludes, overall great guitar tone

Lows: Multiple style changes and less heavy parts can be distracting

Bottom line: A solid choice from the earlier days of the Louisiana scene that will appeal to fans of many different metal genres

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)