Album Review

He Whose Ox Is Gored – “The Camel, The Lion, The Child”.

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 7:40 PM (PST)
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Well, here we are. How do I even start a review for a record this rewarding? How about by demanding you pre-order it HERE. No better compliment?

I am gonna blame Lisa Mungo from Seattle’s He Whose Ox Is Gored for almost single handedly getting me back into proggy/post-rock stuff as well as, incidentally, Stephen Brodsky’s music. I’d written Lisa a few weeks back introducing myself and asking a question and then started listening to HWOIG’s older stuff more thuroughly than I had in the past. Now I am so hooked!

As the band are touring with Mutoid Man and that Bleeder record of theirs also blew me away and has a similar workmanlike chopping drum attack paired with busy but also at times spacious guitars, I soon found myself diving into old Brodsky classics like Cave In’s Jupiter for the first time in years. God, most music really fucking sucks now compared to that stuff, doesn’t it? I mean, I am a super positive guy unless you really piss me off, but woah.

The Camel, The Lion, The Child has a (very) few rougher patches here and there but  they only add to the striving humanity of this future classic. “Oathbreaker” recalls Game of Thrones as filtered through new wave hell metal, at least in my mind. Bells toll and the anticipation building hi hat simmers nerves. The cool time signatures, vox roaring at 3:41 like dub music weaving in and out plus synths equals an amazing listen. Think post-metal sci-fi meets Chicago noise or 90′s rock completely disassembled but with screams ala Botch and occasional pretty vocals, as members alternate. “Omega” (premiered HERE at Cvlt Nation) could teach some of the Between The Buried And Me wanna bes a thing or two about feel, as like Prosthetic trio InAeona or Junius the bigger feelings evoked don’t depend on overplaying. Yawning void is actually a thing on some of these tracks.

For more see BELOW.

“Crusade” arrives as a dirge riff almost like a chuggy Type O riff meets thunderous High On Fire march around the curve of a rotating planet. The keys. Oh, the keys. Not afraid to feel epic but without needing to sound like
Sabaton or Manowar or something (which is also awesome, though). Then the bridge gets all weird and post rock ala Slint and the drumming is again pitch perfect accompaniment to whatever roads explored. This band works so well as a unit and exploring their various roles with relish. You can just hear it as the drums drop out around 5:20 and things sound almost like a stoned and female voiced Mew hovering in a shimmering early Mogwai/Sonic Youth “Shadow Of A Doubt” guitar and dream pop/prog hallucination for awhile. The drums come back in and guitars leave as the drum pattern carries over into “Zelatype” and
lonely synth takes us into the next movement.

This is a band , like Russian Circles or Opeth, who thrive on creating a listenable experience all the way through the record. But the key word is “experience”. They never spoon feed but there are plenty of big rewards to the traveler who rides along on the band’s huge or gentle tides, a milky way of life and death (to get pretentious and also sound kind of pervy accidentally).

The sounds here are mint, from the early Giant Squid-esque massive stomp of Cairo’s main riff (though the other instruments and barked vocals sound nothing like the good ship G.Squid at all) to the gorgeous almost Massive Attack sounding intro to closing track “Weighted By Guilt, Crushed To A Diamond” (which also has a name that could make Shai Hulud envious).

Tracked at Red Room and Ex Ex Audio in Seattle by Robert Cheek (Serial Hawk,
Noise-A-Tron etc.) with additional recording at Avast Studios with Randall
Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Wolves In The Throne Room etc.), mixed by Matt Bayles
(Isis, Mastodon etc.) and mastered by frequent collaborator, Blake Bickel, The
Camel, The Lion, The Child is a triumph.

They are disfiguring the expectations of metal, noise, punk and dance in the best ways. Like House Of Lightning or even Lightning Bolt or The August Engine era Hammers of Misfortune, HWOIG are full of riff workout moments such as all of “Magazina” that you would imagine could tire the fingers of even some of the most seasoned fret teasers. Yet the band also mine a certain gothic sludge, scraping or feasting from a neon new wave glowing blackened ooze of resin fried to the Lynchian Id at the back of the Skull. Pocket dimensions of
the soul that feel better than day to day life, yet this is as much striving and real punk music still as it is escapism into simultaneously purer AND YET more collaged forms. Some people might not like the synths continuous and frequent presence but this shit sounds super fresh to me. It’s enough to make you never want to write about anything you aren’t completely into again.


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