Saturday 4 October 2014

Weedeater - Sixteen Tons Reissue (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 30/09/2014
Label: Season of Mist

‘Sixteen Tons’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1. Bull (07:57)
2. Potbelly (04:13)
3. Time Served (02:39)
4. Dummy (06:44)
5. #3 (02:06)
6. Woe’s Me (04:10)
7. Buzz (05:27)
8. Lines (03:15)
9. Riff (03:55)
10. Kira May (02:47)


Tobacco is sure not the only thing coming out of North Carolina, USA. This Southern Bible Belt state also grows great hemp and stoner rock. WEEDEATER drifted into a creative cloud following the publication of their acclaimed debut "…and Justice for Y’all" (2001) and returned with their sophomore album "Sixteen Tons" only a year later. This release confirmed and slightly expanded the course and sound of their first full-length.

WEEDEATER was founded by bass player Dave "Dixie" Collins and guitarist Dave "Shep" Shepherd in the harbor town of Wilmington about the year 1998, after the demise of cult sludge act BUZZOV•EN. "…and Justice for Y’all" created an immediate buzz, while critics were struggling to label their sound. Most agreed that stoner rock, doom, sludge and some crusty elements were part of the mix, which the band simply calls "weed metal". "Sixteen Tons" was again produced by renowned engineer Billy Anderson (EYEHATEGOD, NEUROSIS).

WEEDEATER proceeded to play live with strong acts such as CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY. After some detours of Dixie Dave, who played shortly with BONGZILLA and SOURVEIN, third album "God Luck and Good Speed" hit the world in 2007 and shifted the band’s focus slightly towards the stoner side. The latest full-length "Jason… the Dragon" got delayed when guitarist Shep lost a toe due to an incident with his favourite shotgun. When the sludge driven album finally came out in 2011 shows in the US and Europe cemented the band's reputation as a fierce live entity. WEEDEATER have meanwhile signed up with Season of Mist for their future full-length. In preparation the complete back catalogue will be re-issued. "Sixteen Tons" will also be made available on vinyl for the first time. Time to inhale another WEEDEATER cult classic!

The Band:

Dave "Dixie" Collins | vocals, bass
Dave Shepherd | guitar
Travis Owen | drums (currently live)
Keith “Keko” Kirkum |drums on album (former member)


Weedeater are one of those bands who everyone needs to see live at least once. Furious drumming, drugged riffing, and the manic energy of “Dixie” Dave Collins, Weedeater are one of the most intense live shows you will ever see. I've seen them probably six or seven times now and there have NEVER failed to put on a great show. On to the review! With any reissue that has been remastered, first and foremost the question is, how does it sound compared to the original?  That question is definitely better but still unmistakeably sludgy. I'd be inclined to say that everything sounds clearer and the mix is definitely improved. The vocals for sure sit just a bit better on top. I actually like the production on this a touch more then ‘Jason...The Dragon’ although ‘Mancoon’ is still one of the greatest songs ever in the history of music.

Moving on to the actual track review for those of you who haven't heard Weedeater or “16 tons” yet, just go buy it you're going to love it. Opening with the longest track on the album, “Bull” comes out stomping with elephantine fury of epic proportions.  Dave Shepard's guitar and “Dixie” Dave Collins' perfectly balanced fuzz tones assault your mind into mush right from the get go. No frills, no bullshit, rifftastic sludge ensues for the duration of the track (and album) and the immensely slow and powerful middle bridge section tells you all you need to know about how influential Weedeater are.

The sample that starts the second track “Potbelly” makes me laugh every time I hear it, “I was born in South Carolina man, I can't read” as the lurching riff starts and the deathy/black screams kick in later. This is probably my favorite track on the album as it has a bit of a weird head bouncy vibe throughout that can't fail to put a smile to your face. The 3rd track “Time Served” I've definitely heard live a whole bunch and it's awesome on the album too, short and sweet with more riffy goodness. The second longest and fourth track “Dummy” begins with a nice open section with some truly pounding drum work and has the feel of waking up with a terrible hangover and the toms go right through your brain. One of the more atmospheric tracks on offer, the riffing here is a bit slower and more spaced out; boasting one of “Shep's” best solos on the album with some short but slick bluesy licks.

‘#3’ boasts some old timey samples and more guitar freak-out weirdness. This is one of the great things about Weedeater, they are never afraid to go out on a limb in their music from this track to later ones like “Palms and Opium” off ‘Jason...The Dragon’. A cool dark folk song, the sixth track “Woe's Me” is an oddly fitting break in the aural onslaught and demonstrates the range Weedeater can display if they so wish. The next track “Buzz” begins with a long slow doom vamp into some of the heaviest riffing on the album. Committing fully to the riff like many bands try but few really do, the simple yet powerful riffs here, draw you into a mesmerizing trance of awesomeness.

The second to last track “Riff” consists of shockingly great riffs or more specifically a couple variations on the same great riff. Again, boasting one of the things Weedeater is great at and one of the reasons they are so awesome, is how LONG their riffs can be. It's really fun to hear extended phrases like this and is surprisingly difficult to write good ones. The final track is exceptionally odd with some interesting pedal tone riffs on bass not something often heard outside of Tool's “46 & 2” and Mastodon's “The Creature Lives”, from their album we like to pretend doesn't exist. Morphing into an extended solo section and slowing to a close. A great end to a great album.

As “16 Tons” comes to a close you can feel the monumental influence Weedeater has had on so many of the bands we all love bleeding around the edges. In the American scene at least, Weedeater and “Dixie” Dave's previous band Buzzov*en are hugely influential and have some of the finest sludge on either end of the pond. If you haven't heard them check out this reissue and find out why almost immediately.

Words by: Chris Tedor

You can pick up a copy here

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