Eyehategod has long been one of my absolute favorite bands, yet thanks to living in the asshole of the Midwest for all of my natural life (six months in California doesn’t count), I’ve never had the chance to experience their down-tuned Sabbath-ian scuzz-sludge live. Luckily, the band released their first ever live DVD (simply titled Live) late last year, and I think I can safely say it’s the next best thing witnessing the crawling chaos that is Eyehategod in person.
Compiling footage from a 2010 show in Cleveland, OH and a 2009 show in Baltimore, MD, plus some “bonus footage” from a 2010 show in Vienna, Austria, Live is bursting with more than enough in-the-flesh Eyehategod to satisfy show-deprived fans such as myself. The band is even more raw and crushing in the live arena than one might expect, a sweaty, slow-motion surge of demented riff-worship that looks and sounds like it just got done clawing its way out of the gutter after a year-long bender. The film crew does a great job of putting you right there in the shit; I half-expected vocalist Mike IX Williams to jump out of the TV and hit me over the head with his mic stand, or for Jimmy Bower to clobber me with his guitar.
Indeed, Eyehategod’s live shows appear to be just as gritty and violent as their music; the Cleveland show in particular is a tightly packed sea of thrashing limbs and ear-damaging feedback. The Baltimore show meanwhile is the better-sounding of the two, a testament to the pummeling power of the New Orleans quintet’s glacially-paced twin guitar assault. That’s exactly what Eyehategod does, assault their audience with a salvo of vomit vox and deep, punishing grooves. The band infuses their music with a sense of menace and danger that instantly becomes palpable when they hit the stage. It’s the blues and hardcore punk dosed with quaaludes, armed with broken bottles and taken to their illogical conclusions.
My only complaint with Live is the total lack of backstage and interview footage. The shows are fantastic by themselves, but with a band as enigmatic as Eyehategod, you can’t help but wish for some sort of glimpse into what the members are like offstage, especially considering their rough ‘n’ tumble history. They aren’t exactly the sort of band that’s going to make it onto VH1′s Behind the Music (although it would be much, much cooler, if they did), so this DVD feels a little bit like a missed opportunity to give fans some extra insight.
In spite of that one minor gripe, there is plenty to enjoy on Live. Jam-packed with over ninety minutes of Eyehategod’s bruising musical belligerence, it’s the goddamn motherload for those of us who’ve been dying to catch a show, but have been denied the privilege for whatever reason (in my case geography and lack of funds). If you have even the slightest desire to experience the mouthful of broken teeth that is an Eyehategod live set from the comfort of your own home, you need to pick this nasty lil’ fucker up, stat.