Lots of things happened in 1994; Kurt Cobain died, Smashing Pumpkins got their big break and Alice in Chains and Soundgarden released groundbreaking records. Pink Floyd unleashed The Division Bell, and in the metal world, Pantera released the acclaimed Far Beyond Driven.
Meanwhile, something very different was going on in the swamps of Louisiana. A new kind of primal, raw form of Metal music known as Sludge Metal was making its mark on the deep Southern music scene. Primarily influenced by Black Sabbath fused with Hardcore Punk, with riffs and vocals to match the climate and geography. Perhaps one of the most creative bands to come from that scene was Acid Bath, and this was the year they released their debut album on Rotten Records, When the Kite String Pops.
If Vincent Van Gogh had been a serial killer, the artistically poetic yet grittily ugly lyrical themes sung by frontman Dax Riggs would have captured a perfect presentation of his crimes. There’s finger picked acoustic numbers (“Scream of the Butterfly”, “The Bones of Baby Dolls”) with Riggs crooning along with a grungy vibrato not unlike Layne Staley. Then you’ve got your heavy Sludge dirges (“Toubaboo Koomi”, “Dr Seuss is Dead”) with savage Melvins style riffs from guitarist Sammy Duet and shrieked vocals from Riggs that would give your grandma a heart attack if it were accidentally played in Tesco.
One song definitely worth your listening time is “Tranquilized”, it’s a psychedelic, grunge influenced riff that descends into Sludge by the end, with a great vocal performance, very Kyuss esque.
If you like 90’s Alternative and Metal and you haven’t heard of Acid Bath, go pick this album up now. It didn’t nearly get enough praise as bands like Down did in the middle part of that decade, yet sounds so much rawer like Sludge should be. It’s rare that a band can totally define their sound on their first record, but Acid Bath are one of the bands that managed with ease.