It’s mostly G-rated, when it’s not violent, sick and twisted. That speaks to the accessibility of what you can expect from Drought Year‘s sophomore release – Nothing More Than Worthless. Following on from 2016’s All Symbols Are Swastikas, Drought Year continue their exploration into the fundamentals of stoner, sludge, noise and post-metal to arrive at a perplexing blend of bands like Haust, Isis and EyeHateGod. In case you’re unfamiliar, their blended styles form an enigma of Norwegian black metal, American Sludge, hardcore and post-metal. Enough removed from its predecessor, Nothing More Than Worthless is still thick and abrasive, heavy on the distortion and pessimistic in nature, but just like an African summer, there’s a uniquely earthy heat saturating what the tracks have on offer.
Picking up from a slow walk to something a little more brisk, “Geschaftsfuhrer” begins with a static sounding riff, becoming more of a clinging noise effect. Vocals cut effectively cut through this thick distortion, a mixture of echo effect played off against atmospheric banshee screams. These piercing screams are a big part of what keeps me coming back to Drought Year. Around the mid-point, the song deviates into what sounds like a game of Ring Around the Roses. Though short-lived, it’s creepy and succeeds in giving the song a more perverse nature. “Geschaftsfuhrer” is over way more quickly than you expect and comes across as almost “too catchy” for the type of blackened stoner sludge on offer here1.
Looking beyond the fuzzed out guitar riffs brandished vehemently on the album, There’s no shortage of abrasion on Nothing More Than Worthless. “Tacit Consent” cuts in and out of earshot with a nasty screeching effect that lingers with you. Drought Year takes this a step further with the distorted hydraulic actions utilized throughout “Meaningful Existence.” For fans of the industrial aberration, Lustmord or the post-black metal branding of Caïna, these are tunes you’ll probably enjoy sinking your teeth into.
You take a chance each time you hold the long-song-gun to somebody’s head. “Suffering Hope” and “Retaliation & Defeat” testify to this truth. “Suffering Hope” ends up the albums one downfall. Though not a bad track in and of itself, beginning with a strong saturation of My Dying Bride contoured doom, it ultimately peters out with beige-colored monotony, lackluster pacing and overbearing distortion by the end of its nearly seven minute run-time. “Retaliation and Defeat” succeeds where “Suffering Hope” does not, by using the combined influence of Marduk and Deadspace to create an anguished circumstance that goes from intense to ethereal. The band throw everything they have at this piece from despairing violin to scornful monologue, and by the power of Greyskull it all works to perfection! The majority of Drought Year‘s songs don’t extend beyond the 5-minute mark and still leave you with a hearty appetite for more. Based on this, I’m confident in saying that this is their sweet spot.
Operating out of Asheville, North Carolina, a area known for its lively art culture, Drought Year have proved themselves immune to the infamous sophomore slump. Nothing More Than Worthless is not an immediate album, while it has some hookiness in the repetitive and simplistic nature of the guitar riffs, there are no big solos to fall in love with or big fancy drum fills to mesmerize. Instead, this caustic abstraction concentrates its efforts on screeches, indecipherable monologues and buzz-saw disturbance to drive its point home. Love it of hate it, this is a Drought Year.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self Release
Releases Worldwide: June 16th, 2017