Out of the dive bars of New Orleans came one of the nastiest bands to ever surface from the metal scene. EYEHATEGOD subjects scores of fans to their rotten, self-abusive form of sludge today, with the merits of a long and storied history to back up their credentials, but it all began as a joke that few people believed would ever take off. Somehow, EYEHATEGOD’s mystique, stubborn refusal to sit down, and authentic devil-may-care rage has endured for thirty years. With rancorous personalities, disastrous drug afflictions, and a style nowhere even close to marketable, it would seem a contradiction of fate that EHG could make it for half as long as they have. So how did they co-exist and create a legacy that will endure for as long as there are metalheads to remember them?
In this article, IMV will cover the album that turned EYEHATEGOD into cult gods of sludge. Without their second full-length album Take As Needed For Pain, which was released in the fall of 1993, they may not have ever reached their turning point. While their first album In The Name of Suffering has some of the potential for a breakthrough, it was truly on their sophomore release where the Louisiana boys came into their own.
Influenced by 80s hardcore groups such as Discharge and doom metal groups like Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Black Sabbath, EYEHATEGOD unwittingly created a scene that best reflected the seedy culture of their hometown. Everything about the band’s origins comes off as an obnoxious joke, such a the tale that the band formed in 1988 on April 20th in accordance with 4/20. Interviews throughout the years have revealed founder Jimmy Bower’s intention to piss people off as the reason for their name. Of course, one could not possibly even look at the band name without having it burned into the mind at first glance, which arguably makes EYEHATEGOD as brilliant as it is cringeworthy to some. However, for a moment, EYEHATEGOD was slipping precariously over the edge of irrelevance, drawing small crowds that barely registered as a fanbase. 1988 was a year when metal was pushing into new boundaries of speed and technicality, and EHG had no foothold in a scene that was progressing into death metal. Yet still, in the face of certain ostracism, Bower continuing spurning the attraction of going fast for a slowed down style of southern-brewed, manic hardcore. The fundamentals of what we know today as sludge were formed here. Torn between punk, doom, and layers of old fashion blues the band slowly rose out of a fetid swamp of contradictions.
By 1993, they finally acquired all of the necessary pieces to release a seminal album. Describing EYEHATEGOD’s sound is something like a labyrinth unto itself. Scratching like fragments of broken glass on a chalkboard, Mike IX William’s vocals are disgustingly indecipherable and yet somehow a charming piece of the puzzle. The arrival of guitarist Brian Patton added a fresh dynamic compatible with Bower’s oozing riffs. Mark Schultz’s transition to bass resulted in a successful impression with grooves that demanded attention. At the center of this foreboding power was Joe LaCaze’s drumming, driving the album forward into dimensions of heaviness with more mass than a gas giant.
Along with the success of friends and fellow visionaries in Crowbar, EHG plateaued with a sonic force that will forever be remembered as a disturbing and equally heavy game changer that demanded that the sludge scene be taken seriously. Take As Needed For Pain exercises all of the strength and brutality of a unit that is dead center in the middle of an epidemic. Rolling Stone put it in their Top 100 Metal Albums of All Time list and for good reason. Take As Needed For Pain did not just survey ruin through the eyes of intrigued observers, it was an audible memoir from the rotten roots of the band. That sense of loathing and failure can be felt hard behind every riff, but it wasn’t just the heaviness that established the group as artists, it was the effective sense of style through which they delivered. EYEHATEGOD found a center that pivoted on an aesthetic value within a cacophony of rage. The metallic brew of blues, rock, and funk bring something different in each song. At times, the formula may start to become static, but then comes another kick in the face and the psychotic bluesy mirth of the band will get you swinging again.
Twenty-five years later, most of the band members that recorded the album are still alive and touring together. Somehow, in spite of all the odds against them, EYEHATEGOD took themselves to the summit and realized their full potential as the bastard kings of their scene. What follows their 1993 sophomore release is a legacy of musical inspiration woven through tragedy and addiction. Over each trial and tribulation, EYEHATEGOD comes back with more energy to showcase for their cult of diehard fans, and maybe it can be said that says something special about the spirit of sludge overall.