Earlier, I wrote a little about the new Yanomamo song, Ativan And Whiskey. I deleted that article from here because I felt it to be a lazy, rushed piece of writing. Not that this surprises me. This year has been a very dark one for me, and this part of the year, without fail, is the darkest time in every year. I mention this because there is a chance that has coloured what I have written previously.
Ativan And Whiskey is not my favourite Yanomamo song, not by a long shot. Maybe my opinion might change if I go and hear it live. I am unsure. But I doubt anyone is going to be surprised when I say that this is partly because whilst there are a few differences from previous works, you still pretty much know what you are getting in advance.
A Sabbath-esque groove from the bass and guitar, a nicely percussive beat, and of course Anthony Von Grimm making like he is speaking to Odin on a porcelain ‘phone. I think part of the problem I have with this particular song is that his voice still seems a little too subdued in the mix after listening to the song in both streaming and FLAC formats. This makes it hard to discern exactly what he is singing, and thus makes it hard to discern whether the title should be taken as a literal description of the subject matter.
Guitarist Jason Higson and bassist Paul Attard can do the whole groovy-Sabbathy doom metal thing in their sleep. They do not do it in their sleep here. In fact the tight arrangement here makes it painfully clear they are wide awake. Matt Shriffer’s drums also have that distinct feel of a time when drumming in any kind of doom or black metal band meant more than blast beating. I only wish they had put more cowbell into it (I am of course, kidding).
I drew a comparison with the Deep Purple song When A Blind Man Cries in my earlier, throwaway write-up of this single. Thematically, that still holds true for the first four minutes of Ativan And Whiskey. If Purple had accidentally inhaled paint fumes and foregone the wanky Jon Lord keyboards when recording that song, then the result might have come out something like that four minutes of Ativan And Whiskey.
The only other thing the two songs have in common is that they are good to leave on your stereo for the authorities to discover when you stick a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger. If doom metal is meant to be an exploration of everything that is wrong with our world, then Ativan And Whiskey is an example of what every doom metal band, established or wannabe, should aspire to.
But it is hard to figure out exactly what Anthony is singing this time. The sample that ends with “…all you gotta do is look at the labels on the little bottles” really gives more of a clue than Anthony does this time.
I do not normally give two fukks about what vocalists do. Ninety-nine percent of vocalists do one of two things. Either overwhelm the song and distract from what the band is doing, or vocalise a love letter to themselves and make what the band is doing seem utterly pointless.
I have said this before, and I will say it again to demonstrate how Anthony is a one-percenter. That is, he brings the music to a new level of glory. Anthony is frequently compared to the late GG Allin. That is unfair to Anthony. GG Allin would shit in his hand and scream at it. If Anthony shits in his hand at a live show, what he screams at it is explicitly designed to promote your understanding of why he just shat in his hand and is now screaming at it.
I say this because it makes the loss of emphasis or clarity in his voice with Ativan And Whiskey’s mix a little baffling. As I listen for the tenth or fifteenth time, I am making out more words here or there, but this is the first time whilst listening to Yanomamo that I have felt obligated to ask for a lyrics sheet.
I neither love nor hate this particular presentation. I like it enough that I will keep it in my playlist and listen to it on my iPood. But if I were being asked by the Man From Mars what this band called Yanomamo is all about, it would not be the first song I let them hear.
So far it sounds like I am trying to hang shit on the record without sounding like I am hanging shit on it, so I will talk here about the extreme positives.
Again, Jason and Paul give us a great groove, and Jason’s noodling on the guitar about two and a half minutes into the song is a very nice touch. The riffs themselves have a nice oomph to them, and whilst they are never surprising, they are superbly executed. And the aforementioned samples really put a spin on the song that forms the “I was not expecting that” quotient for this song.
I am in an awkward position with this recording. I want to like it, and I am sure that I will like it more when I hear it live at some point. But there is just something that combines with Anthony’s loss of prominence in the mix that leaves me slightly cold.
If you are already a fan of Yanomamo, then you already have this record and I have no reason to believe that you are sorry. If you have already heard Capitolo Due or Maggot, then you have the best possible introduction to this very nice bunch of lads. In such a case, adding this song to your Yanomamo collection is recommended.
It is just that if you are not already familiar with them, I would have to recommend those two releases first.