US Christmas - Eat The Low Dogs
Neurot Recordings
Space Rock, Atmospheric Post-Metal
9 songs (55:50)
Release year: 2008
Neurot Recordings
Reviewed by Goat

Although you’d expect a band on Neurot Recordings that doesn’t play acoustic folk to produce heavy atmospheric sludge of a kind heavily indebted to original masters Neurosis, US Christmas actually owe more to British Space Rock grandfathers Hawkwind. Coming complete with bucketfuls of those uncanny, wobbly synthesizers that could have been taken from classics like 1972’s Doremi Fasol Latido, US Christmas are also driven by expansive Post-Metal clean riffing and mildly rough vocals – nothing that would frighten away a non-Metalhead, but with just enough of an air of despair to give you a sense that this would never find radio play.

Doubtless US Christmas shine brightest in the live sphere, but listening at home on headphones there’s much to get out of it, even if those synths are over-used to the point of frustration. That’s the main problem with the album, really; they’re more or less constant, making it hard to concentrate on the guitars which are capable of forming some interesting shapes of their own. The Light And Trails is a great example, bass noodling forming the main thrust whilst the guitars shimmer and keyboards swirl, creating quite a beautiful effect. Other tracks, such as opener In The Light Of All Time, use the electronics to form ambient wind and noise that reacts well with the atmospheric riffs, pushing them to the front where they should be.

It’s a pity, but all too often songs seem to repeat the same tricks again and again. The Scalphunters, coming as it does early in the tracklisting, seems great, subtle guitar leads burying themselves in the chaos as the synths speak an alien language to each other, but once you’ve listened to another forty-odd minutes of what is basically the same thing with different arrangements it drags terribly; whatever the impact of the likes of Say Sister if you allow yourself to be sucked into the whirlpool. That’s ultimately what Eat The Low Dogs comes down to: how patient you are, how willing to give the band time to work their magic, and how resistant you are to dated synth sounds.

When you’re after a quick, music-as-drug Space Rock fix, then any of the songs here will do fine (there’s nothing actually bad about any of them) but if you want a whole hour or so of build and release, then you could do far better elsewhere. Other bands in this rapidly growing genre have done much more without overusing the synths – ultimately, like a cake with too much sugar, this album needs less of a certain ingredient, and its creators need to learn moderation. Give the guitars more space, and put the keyboards in the background where they can work their magic without becoming overbearing; then the results will be amazing. Until then, fun but flawed.

Killing Songs :
The Scalphunters, Say Sister, Silent Tongue, The Light And Trails
Goat quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by US Christmas that we have reviewed:
US Christmas - Run Thick In The Night reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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