Release Details

LABEL Diabolical Conquest
RELEASED ON 10/1/2010
GENRES Sludge,Noise


Drug Honkey

Death Dub (Reissue)

posted on 2/2011   By: Dan Obstkrieg

Although I’m sure this says much more about my own sensibility than the music itself, I just can’t deny that there’s something immediately appealing about a band called Drug Honkey. It’s kind of like the first time you heard the name Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Think back… Didn’t you kind of smirk a bit, knowing that our world is so full of wonder as to produce a band called Agoraphobic Nosebleed? Well, this troupe of Chicago-based miscreants starts from a position of similar strength, but although the aesthetic is one of appropriately drug-addled paranoia and malevolence, the music just can’t keep the promise the name makes.

See, it’s a pretty tough life, playing the Godflesh tip without actually being Godflesh. Drug Honkey stomps along, all track-marked industrial distortion, woozy bass, deafness-inviting white noise shrieks and caustic sample loops, and a jackhammered vocal delivery that pierces the eardrum like Dani Filth’s caterwauling fashioned into Tetris-piece-shaped machine gun rounds. The band’s sound is neither death nor dub, but most definitely sounds like a slow concrete comedown from a hellacious gutful of hard drugs. All of which sounds pretty great, right? Well, sure, except the thing is, harsh and nihilistic is fucking fantastic; boring is not. Too often the band’s sound comes across like a Paleolithic hardcore breakdown, stripped of its rhythmic vigor and coated in thoroughly unpleasant stabs of static and washes of feedback (see the first few minutes of “Communion,” for example). Perhaps also taking a cue from early Swans, these songs also play out the same motif of tuneless bellowing over fret-mashing non-riffs, though Drug Honkey definitely comes off worse for the comparison.

It’s not all bummer, all the time, though. The bass in “My Sins,” for example, sounds less like it’s being played, and more like it’s being wobbled at you, while the last thirty seconds or so of “The Devil Lasts Forever” are extremely effective at ratcheting up the tension, particularly with the hideously white-noised vocals jutting and seething like an aneurysm waiting to happen. In other places, though, the vocals sound like they are being belched through a nylon straw, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been in a position where I thought to myself, “Hey, wouldn’t it be rad as hell if I heard vocals that sounded like they were being belched through a nylon straw?” “Death Threats” is a longer and somewhat sparser offering, flirting with the same kind of space-y effects heard elsewhere, though they are given the empty space in the production that they need to be most effective here. The band is much better on this lengthier, more atmospheric track when compared to the ineffective brute force pummeling attempted on most of the rest of the tracks. “I Can Not” is also a choice moment, again with the dangerously oscillating bass tones and some plaintively picked clean guitar tones barely poking through the drear haze. But then the live track is a bit narcoleptic, and by the time the last two tracks mope around without doing much or going anyplace, I am well and fucking ready for some Agoraphobic Nosebleed.

I can appreciate what Drug Honkey is doing on Death Dub, and when it works, its hallucinatory trip through the margins of the bleakest urban apocalypse verges on stunning. Too often, though, the punishing, mechanistic throb of prime early Godflesh and Swans is aped in basest style but not ever matched in strength of execution. The whole thing is effectively antisocial, and if you’ve ever wanted to get all the joys of a hangover without the hassle of first getting drunk, try throwing this bad boy on a half-busted stereo. Still, there’s got to be a point at which being purposefully unpleasant tips the scales from impressively Nietzschean aesthetic to, well, just downright unpleasant. It’s all a bit ineffable, really, but that’s a bullshit word and maybe all these dudes want is for you to get fucked on twelve kinds of drugs and run spasmolytic circles around a local Walgreens until someone has the common decency to put you out of your misery. Whether death by drugs or gleaming neon overdose, it’s still death, honkey.



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