In a time when the bands we once thought were the new kings of progressive and concept metal are putting out records that sound more like Load than Master Of Puppets, Tres Hombres instead of Ace Of Spades( I’m looking at you, Baroness and Mastodon), a record like Exterminate All Rational Thought’s Lining the Streets is a glorious surprise, indeed. Okay, so me being a guy of middle age and growing up in the late 80s metal scene, I appreciate a certain kind of metal. I came up in a time when punk begat thrash, which begat speed. Speed metal was that type of metal that appreciated precision over annihilation. The tastemaker albums of that era were Anthrax’s Persistence of Time, Megadeth’s Rust in Peace, Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss and Metallica’s And Justice for All (sorry, but The Black Album is borderline country rock in comparison the those other albums). Putting on Exterminate All Rational Thought’s headbanging Lining the Streets, I was put in a speed metal wayback machine to my freshman year in high school and the first time I heard Chris Poland’s Return To Metalopolis. If you’re not familiar with this excellent instrumental metal album from the former Megadeth guitarist, and you call yourself a speed metal connoisseur, you should look it up. The musicianship and power behind the songs made the 15-year-old me practice my Japanese Strat that much more. That’s what I hear on Lining the Streets. These cats can play.
A four-song suite, Lining the Streets consists of “The Formula,” which is a short, quiet piece that takes us into “Part I,” “Part II” and “Part III.” This is an instrumental journey into a no man’s land of quiet reflection, shattered hopes and a barrage of splintered metal riffs and syncopated breakneck rhythms that tell a story with nary a voice speaking. I imagine this being the soundtrack to some neo-futurist sci-fi film – something like Metropolis, only directed by David Lynch. Usually my biggest issue with current metal, or really metal of any era, are the vocals. E.A.R.T. have fixed that problem by not having a vocalist, leaving this musical journey completely up to the listener to decide what the story is.
Just because I got all nostalgic about 80s speed metal doesn’t mean that’s all these guys are pulling from. I’m hearing all kinds of influences on this excellent record. I can hear Red-era King Crimson in the precision rhythms. I can also hear more modern influences like Animals As Leaders and Mogwai. In the quieter passages I can even hear some Explosions in the Sky. There’s some definite Mastodon-style bludgeoning going on as well. But besides all the influences, these guys make a metal all their own. They take the influences and put them in a metal gumbo that simmers over an open fire in the desolate outlands of a Midwest only dreamt of in this band’s collective mind. This is heavy and heady stuff, man.
With wizard Jason Davis at the helm, E.A.R.T. recorded Lining the Streets at Off The Cuff Sound in Fort Wayne. This is where a band goes when they want some meat left on the bone when the song enters physical form. Lining the Streets is a bloody slab of beef waiting to be devoured. Dig in.
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