It’s easy to compare Weedeater’s early output to the bands that inspired them: there are undeniable strains of SLEEP, Electric Wizard, Kyuss and the rest of the stoner/sludge metal milieu in Weedeater’s work, especially in …And Justice for Y’all their first album. Certain bass grooves and transitions bare an uncanny resemblance to those found in SLEEP’s “Dragonaut”; there are droning passages which might be mistaken (and with little difficulty) for certain stretches of Kyuss’ Welcome to Sky Valley. The difference, the one that separates Weedeater from any other member of the sludge metal family, is that they use these sounds to embody their genre. They become, through less-than-subtle-but-perfectly-deployed instrumentation, a reeking kind of aural morass that one has no choice but to wade through. In short, they are sonic sewage.
Now, this is not to say that the album’s as worthless as waste byproduct. Not at all. Even 13 years on …And Justice For Y’all sounds like it’s at the cutting edge of the the whole stoner/sludge crossroads which, not coincidentally, means that it sounds like the collected flush of a thousand cities. This is thick stuff, thicker even than molasses, with vocals so oozy they sound like they crawled out of a septic tank and bass grooves so thick they might be mistaken for oil if they didn’t carry the rot and weight and semi-solid consistency of raw sewage. There are drums here, too, as dense and poisonous as any nuclear spillage and though there are skillfully deployed drums, well, they feel like clean water compared to the rest of the instrumentation. They’re a cleaning agent, something that Weedeater deploys when they filth and the bile backs up so dense that they’ve got no choice but to flush things clean.
But if they’re geniuses at making waste then they know just as well how to process it. In some ways it’s like listening to a waste treatment facility. Songs like “Tuesday Night”, the album’s opener, may sound dangerously bluesy in places, as if there’s too much and it’s bound to start clogging the pipes, but before you know it’s broken down by the sheer radioactive toxicity of the drums, deteriorating until there’s an equal blend. Tracks like “Calico” and “Southern Cross” (a cover of the Crosby, Stills and Nash song of the same name) come along around the middle of the album with an emphasis on guitars, guitars that flush all of the built up gunk right out and open the album up for something that allows, if only for a second, a breath of air, though maybe not of fresh air (hey, they’ve got a reputation to uphold).
There are some cuts that might be so overladen with bacteria, disease and a thousand kinds of chemical run-off that even temporary exposure will leave the listener a mutant — I bear no real love of the pseudo-experimental-and-truly-lousy “#86” while the less that is said about “Free” the better — but they’re forgivable on the same album that includes the absolutely perfect “Truck Drivin’ Man”. Here’s the record’s apotheosis, a synthesis of toxic elements so perfectly balanced that the end result is an irradiated automaton, a shambling mass of rock and blues and metallic elements that is so stuffed with bacterial life that the whole seems alive. It’s the aural equivalent of The Blob, and it is perfect in its grotesqueness.
Rest assured, that is as complete a compliment as can be offered up to this band. Sometimes it’s not enough to be spotless; there is a danger of staid lifelessness in the pristine just as there is a chance for life in the rotten, and where there is life there’s bound to be some kind of joy, even if it is of the depraved variety. It is exactly this kind of vile delight Weedeater creates and cultivates: it’s their gift to the world, it’s their curse on the world, and it’s something, thank goodness, that this reissue insures will not vanish anytime soon.