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Hydra Head

Tuning down to C and punching out those bottom-two-string dope-sick chords seems to tap into something essential and eternal. Call it what you will—doom, stoner, or plain-ol’ metal—that kinda heavy sludge persists ’cause there just ain’t nothin’ rockier than the blues turned up to 11. Hailing from the ecologically ruined cultural vacuum that is South Florida, the decade-old Cavity may not be the newest flavor of anything, but there’s still something appealingly honest and human about the quintet’s worshipping at the altar of Iommi. The best of On the Lam—possibly the finest Fat Possum record title that never was—switches among scraping-the-Earth-into-being riffs, backwood-juke-joint dual-guitar hooks, and some of the thickest, roundest feedback you’ll ever hear. Unlike most punkers, who generally view this kinda Wishbone Ash-style boogie jammin’ with disdain, these Southerners embrace their classic-rock roots: “Boxing the Hog” and “Sung From a Goad” are heavy-blues dirges that’ll make you glad someone discovered electricity. But the thing that’ll keep your average good ol’ boy or girl from getting this whole Cavity business is mouthpiece Rene Barge. Sounding as if he were screaming into the drive-thru mike at some Miami fried-chicken shack, Barge scrapes the bottom of his vocal chords to deliver such white-trashy lines as “Roll away my fold out bed” and “If you crack that man, she’s done son.” Barge & Co., as their band’s name suggests, clearly find aesthetic pleasure in exploring the coal-black recesses. But if anything brings these fellas down, it’s their single-mindedness. Master of Reality is arguably the best metal record ever, because Sabbath swept away the some of the muck with quiet cuts like “Orchid” and “Solitude.” Cavity gets it only half right: On the Lam’s just an hour’s worth of unrelenting pummel. —Brent Burton