Spend any time listening to The Great Sabatini and you’ll realise that this Montreal-based quartet aren’t a one-trick pony. Their fans must all come hard-wired to embrace change since, like a kid on jungle juice, their music never settles. One minute they’ll be locked into spewing forth melancholic post-hardcore to an elephantine drumbeat, the next they will be weaving sludgy riffs around hammering, avant-garde thrash.
The fact that Dog Years represents yet another tweak to
their musical direction should therefore come as no surprise. In their
own words… “This one is a rare instance in which we quit screaming like
we had our balls in a vice long enough to try singing like we had our
balls in a vice. Not really willing to go all the way clean with it, but
it was a slightly different approach.”
The album (that’d be the one sporting the satanic Muppet on
the front) opens at breakneck pace with a volley of disembodied,
cathartic howls piling into a series of chugging, jagged rhythms. All
first four tracks attack with a conviction and power that will both
alarm and disarm. In those 9 short minutes, these Sabatini boys manage
to find room for both doom-ridden swagger and speed-hungry insanity.
Then, with a cursory flick of the wrist they sweep all that aside,
eliminate the throat-scouring vocals and throw in the melodious and
mind-bending Torche-esque stoned groove of “Reach” and an acoustic, steel-stringed slice of evocative Americana with “Akela”.
By keeping the production raw, they retain a sense of the chaotic,
hastily-assembled magic that only a band on the edge can produce. The
little hits of feedback and splattering dissonance seal the deal. King
of the lot for atmosphere is the crushing menace of “Pitchfork Pete”.
Perhaps it’s the gaggle of ritual chanting that does it but somewhere in
here they manage to reproduce the kind of manic fervour that only a
lynchmob could possess.
Yes, it’s scattergun and, yes, it may not be the easiest thing to
sink your teeth into but The Great Sabatini simply aren’t afraid to
venture down paths less-travelled and, by god, that’s a rare and heroic
thing for a band to do.