The first thing you hear from Keelhaul ‘em All by Snailbones is abrasive dissonance that descends into kinetic drum patterns, distorted guitar and bass. I didn’t know anything about the album or the band before I listened but immediately thought this sounds like a Steve Albini album. Well, I was right they worked with Albini on the album and his signature sound is all over it.
This album is a full-fledged analog recording that showcases the sound of a band. The anxiety inducing screams on “Mouse Clap” are backed by early sounding melodies you might find on a Melvins album. The band keeps it nasty and gnarly throughout most of these songs. The explosive and dynamic “Dead Inside” yearns for something more but maybe not. It sounds like straight up acknowledgment of the current situation and there might not be any hope around the corner.
“Sweet and Serene” isn’t that sweet and serene but has its moments. There are sections where they lay off the distortion. I found the verse very catchy and one of the best vocal performances on the album. There are some Chris Cornell vibes with this song. I loved what I was hearing. They also get quite heavy on this song.
“Slave to Hate” is one of the longer songs at over three minutes. They fit so much in the time frame. That’s one thing that I kept noticing with this album. They really don’t linger. The songs are visceral and the band doesn't get cerebral. This is more in the moment from what you are experiencing. It’s not a reflection.
“Death Face” crushes and this sounded like Bleach era Nirvana to me. The vocalist screams and pulls it off. “Dissension” is under two minutes but arguably the most intense song yet. The band continues to slay with “Break Apart the Day” which has another guest vocalist while the closer “Bury Me Meow” starts mellow and grows into a wall of white noise and distortion.
This band crushes skulls and will make you come back for more. In these days when everything is quantized and sounds mechanical Snailbones is a much needed retaliation.