They may have dropped the ritual but they have kept the habitual as the ferocious New Orleans supergroup pick up where they left off after a 13 year gap.
Phil Anselmo has become a bit of a divisive figure over the years since Pantera split. Some of the negative publicity and attention has been of his own making but much of it not. To express any view outside of the accepted rhetoric that we are drip fed every day of the week is to immediately open yourself up to moral and righteous outrage. When you have the forceful personality of someone like Anselmo then you are going to tred a fine line and occasionally put one foot over it. It comes with the territory. What he does more than most musicians is channel that rage and discontent into often brutal, but always uncompromising, pieces of music that build and destroy in equal measure. After nearly 30 years in the business, is still a raging tour-de-force as a vocalist and frontman.
Despite the frontman-centric introduction it would be foolhardy to assume that Superjoint is just a vehicle for Anselmo to express his rage with the world. The band, formerly called Superjoint Ritual, the dropping of the word Ritual was due to undisclosed legal reasons, are at the very least equal to the sum of their parts. Guitarists Jimmy Bower and Kevin Bond are originals riffmeisters in their own right thanks to being part of classics bands such as EyeHateGod, Crowbar & Down. Stephen Taylor on Bass and Jose Gonzalez on Drums are the perfectly rhythm section to provide the musical muscle and framework for the vitriolic rages and razorwire riffing that the band as a whole provide through a maelstrom of discordant darkened Blues and New Orleans Jazz-infused hardcore.
A twisted spoken-word intro and the ‘trust no one’ refrain that burns at the heart of the opener “Today and Tomorrow” is an immediate insight into the how the 38 minutes of the album is going to play out. It is fast, furious, intense and ball-breakingly heavy. It makes thirteen years between albums seem like no time at all.
“Burning The Blanket” keeps the bands collective feet on the accelerator and drives through the deep grooves of the musical mud that is synonymous with New Orleans sludge metal scene. Tracks like “Ruin You”, “Circling The Drain” and “Clickbait” share a similar pattern and rhythm that unites them as separate parts of the same story.
“Receiving No Answer To The Knock” is the album closer and it’s a medium-paced jagged and jarring five minutes of desolation and defiance that brings a size 16 boot to the face and leaves the listener . Troubled times calls for troubled music and this is serious trouble.
In 1980 the city of Louisiana, New Orleans staged the famous Sugar Ray Leonard v Roberto Duran “No Mas” fight, in which Duran was reported to have quit the fight at the end of the eighth round by saying “No mas, no mas” (No more, no more) to the referee. This album lasts 11 rounds and given the relentless onslaught, akin to the persistent pressure that Leonard applied on Duran, it is possible that after 8 rounds you may want to quit as well. Or the very least take a time-out!!
In the words of the legendary Gonzo journalist and author Hunter S. Thomspon “This is only for those with true grit……… and we are chock-full of that, man”.
Donnie’s Rating: 9/10