Teeth of the Hydra - Greenland - 2006 - Tee Pee Records
1. Sawing Through The Ice 2. Our Strange Man 3. The Garden of Rotten Teeth 4. Voices Over Conus 5. Nine Heads 6. Eruptin' 7. Narsaq 8. Purgatorium
Teeth of the Hydra have synchronized the launch of their career quite well with the recent resuscitation of American sludge/doom. Over the past few years, a number of fresh acts such as The Sword, The Abominable Iron Sloth, Lair of the Minotaur, Withered, etc., have emerged to follow the pioneering footsteps of the monolithic Yob. Teeth of the Hydra’s particular take on the genre exudes self-assurance, lumbering along with deliberation and a hint of the Southern swagger that has also done so well by Mastodon and Clutch.
But enough namedropping. While Teeth of the Hydra do share much with all those acts mentioned above, they are certainly not a carbon copy of any, nor a featureless mish-mash of them all. Though still of a prototype quality, ‘Greenland’ presents an often engaging mixture of hypnotic lead melodies and cocky riffs so intrinsic to sludge music.
However, Teeth of the Hydra also exhibit some of the genre’s weaker tendencies that are also apparent in a number of their peers mentioned above. The most problematic of these is the tendency of a song to fall back in on itself, failing to expand upon the initial foundation. Instead, selected motifs are extended to the point of exhaustion, beyond even sludge’s forgiving boundaries. Not all the songs do—some are in fact quite dynamic—but it occurs enough to disrupt ‘Greenland’s momentum from time to time.
The other main concern is the vocals. For the most part, they are protracted and gruff—part yell, part moan (this is their feature most similar to Mastodon), and while in many situations it works perfectly well, the almost narrative quality to them can become overly monotonous. This would not be a detriment were the music itself more predictable and even, but with so much opportunity at hand for a more vibrant, lively delivery, the negative space can be rather glaring at times.
‘Greenland’, in the end, still does its namesake justice. It is a sprawling, uncompromising, and yet still seductive experience with a perspective that reaches beyond the constraints of its literal duration. And, as a precaution, it is also like its namesake in that those unprepared for its stark character might miss the appeal altogether. Snow-blinded, to continue the metaphor of the title. Properly navigated, though, it is like a breath of that ice-cold northern air: sharp and incisive.
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