Bludded Head – Reign in Bludd

Reign in Bludd, Bludded Head’s most recent ep-pun-ymous release, is a sweet relief, a breath of fresh air, gentle breeze kissing the soft and carefree cheek.  Sure, the band’s suitably riff-and-distortion heavy, and sure, vocalist Nevada Hill’s desperate and oft-thin warbles sound as though they were drummed up from one unnameable pit miles below the earth; sure the band’s front-and-center inclusion of the upright bass makes for a bizarre, Texas Americana-meets-Doom hybrid that calls to mind visions of Tom Araya’s naked ghost running frightened past both cacti (Do cacti grow in Texas?  Do we care?) and tumbleweeds, sure.  But we repeat it, and stand by it:  Reign in Bludd is a breath of fresh — albeit dry — air.


It’s apparent that the band (which includes David Saylor on what the group’s bandcamp lists as “big drums,” as opposed to, we suppose, small drums; as well as Ryan Williams on the upright bass) is self-aware as it is heavy.  The EP’s title plays on the names of two apparently opposing “metal” bands:  the title of Slayer’s almost-perfect classic Reign in Blood and the name of jock rockers of yore, Puddle of Mudd.  This attests, better believe it, to the band’s playfulness as well as its penchant for dichotomies. Screeching vocals that verge on Eyehategod’s guttural sensibilities segue quickly yet seamlessly into muttered spoken word diatribes that call to mind the sensitive, skinny-boy poesie of everyone’s favorite little-known “classic” screamo bands: Indian Summer, Plunger, La Quite.  Playful? You bet. It is Bludded Head’s riffing on dualities (see also the EP’s quintessentially sludgey lo-fi quality with the ambiance of Hill’s dynamic baritone) that speaks to the band’s childishness; or, if not childishness, then its unabashed championing of its influences. Reign in Bludd, which layers sludgey bass over and behind emotive spoken-word poetry, which gives expansive, percussion heavy tracks names like “Pea,” which has the audacity to label its music as both “heavy metal” and “blues-Americana,” scoffs blatantly at metal purists, reminding us listeners that it’s okay to channel both Kurt Cobain and Darkthrone, that it’s okay to enjoy the whimperings of Pageninetynine, the earth-quaking power chords of Earth, and the delta belly blues of Blind Lemon Jefferson. Only the aficionados who go forth without fear of eclecticism (a dirty word!) turn out jaw-dropping, unsettling music.


But where now the soft and carefree cheek?  The childish blush? The sweet relief?  We suppose we’ll chalk these up to nostalgia.  Listening to Bludd’s “Shitsucker Blues” and “Pouring Rain” makes me recall my days as a musical neophyte, a lanky, purple-haired high schooler sneaking 40 ounce bottles of Olde English into 18+ only metal shows and making out with boys to Burzum in my dad’s guestroom. TMI? We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced the rush of our first metal show;  the garage’s (it’s always in a garage) poor acoustics, the shitty P.A., the stifling body heat that fills you with the kind of nausea that signifies freedom, camaraderie, something real. More important than all this is the strange, overwhelming feeling that lifted you at the scalp when the show ended — that feeling that let you know you yourself could start a band, that you could scream like a little girl over an electric cello and an upright bass and three muddled power chords and people would like it, youwould like it.  Maybe it’s just me (I am, admittedly, a diehard romantic), or maybe it’s the fast food I’m currently eating mindlessly, but Bludded Head, doom connoisseurs of nowheresville, Texas, call all this and more to mind. Nostalgia’s what makes Reign in Blood so… dare we say it? Powerful, bittersweet. One need not listen to the EP if they’ve never experienced a metalhead’s adolescence, but if they have experienced that first-ever shitty house show rush, we advise them to close their eyes and let nostalgia take over. The journey’s worth it.


Bludded Head Official Facebook

Written by Rebecca Beauchamp

Bludded Head – Reign in Bludd
Sleeping Giant Glossolalia
4 / 5