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Friday, July 15, 2011

Album Review: Brent Hinds - Fiend Without a Face/West End Motel

Brent Hinds - Fiend Without a Face/West End Motel
2011 Rocket Science
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Mastodon have, of course, created their own legend in the metal world. Revered is hardly the word to apply to what may be, along with Opeth, the greatest metal unit birthed of this generation.

The legend of Brent Hinds, however, will undeniably stake itself. It's not just because he's the scruffy hombre spotted front and center in Mastodon, but now because of this revelatory exposition to a very unserious side of the man. As complicated and intricate as Mastodon's music is, it will come as a shocker to anyone approaching Hinds' side work as to just what they'll be treated to.

Fiend Without a Face and West End Motel are two of Brent Hinds' offshoot bands. Fiend Without a Face finds Brent fronting a surf 'n twang mockabilly band from a few years back. While psychobilly is best defined as Setzer-meets-slam, Fiend Without a Face is even more inherently nutty than Rob Zombie's looney find, Captain Clegg and The Night Creatures. On the flipside, how to best describe West End Motel? Good question.

It's pretty easy to say Fiend Without a Face is chemically inbred on the vibes of The Cramps, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Brian Sezter, Dick Dale, Duane Eddy, Reverend Horton Heat, The Bomboras and The Koffin Cats. Hinds and his hicks from hell make no pretentions in slapping down strictly for kicks on "Calypso," "Black Grass," "Green Slime," "Hot Rod" and "Tsunami." Later in the album, Fiend Without a Face turns the dime on itself with a few hard rock and bluesy numbers, but overall, its primary purpose is to just shitkick, not much else. At times, Hinds ralphs and wahoos like a country werewolf, but it's all part of the shtick and all part of the fun. All that's missing here is the beans and the subsequent squeezy farts, because Fiend Without a Face is a total gas.

West End Motel is perhaps even more bonkers, as if Hinds had some sort of brain crash in-between recording Mastodon's Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye, then submitted himself to marathon viewings of Paint Your Wagon and Southern Comfort, then slipped into The White Album and an audile pool of zydeco. "The Devil Called Me Tommy" alone is like some weird crash between The Beatles' "Let's Do It On the Road" and the cajun stylings of The Pine Leaf Boys. Then "I Like It a Lot" is one goofy ride filled with accordion, piano and slide guitar amidst the haunted punk groove. "I Like It a Lot" gets this writer's vote for inclusion on the inevitable Return of the Living Dead remake's soundtrack.

Don't get too settled with West End Motel, because Hinds has a couple other tricks to pelt you with, such as "She's On Fire," (another contender for that hypothetical ROTLD soundtrack) which comes off like a downhome take on The Cure or Joy Division. Even Hinds' voice dips into Ian Curtis territory as "She's On Fire," wallowing like he's got a bug up his ass but hardly has a real axe to grind. Then for even more diversity, "Under My Skin" comes off like a Neil Young swoon about absolutely nothing.

That's the spirit of both of Brent Hinds' projects. If you think you're getting anywhere close to Mastodon's "Blood and Thunder" or "Divinations," check yourself before spinning these mini-albums. If West End Motel's "Silly Song" and Fiend Without a Face's "Stupido" aren't indicators of what you're getting here, it's your own damn fault. Do remember Hinds is partially responsible for songs such as "March of the Fire Ants" and "Mother Puncher," so naturally the inner kid needed released outside of the mondo mathematic construct of Mastodon.

Only Hee Haw has more southern-fried lunacy than this. At least Hinds didn't get wallopped in the ass by a fence board, though he might've took it that way upon learning his Fiend Without a Face tracks were leaked online for free by an uber-fan. There's a reason Reprise/Warner Brothers isn't touching this stuff since there's a limited huckleberry appeal to Fiend Without a Face and West End Motel. Still, if you're a geek for Mastodon or you enjoy your funny bone plucked musically, step up to these nerdy ponies and ride.

Rating: ****

1 comment:

pharmacy said...

Great post!