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When The Kite String Pops

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When The Kite String Pops
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: August 8th, 1994
Genre: Sludge
1. The Blue
2. Tranquilized
3. Cheap Vodka
4. Fingerpaintings Of The Insane
5. Jezebel
6. Scream Of The Butterfly
7. Dr. Suess Is Dead
8. Dope Fiend
9. Toubabo Koomi
10. God Machine
11. The Morticians Flame
12. What Color Is Death
13. The Bones Of Babydolls
14. Cassie Eats Cockroaches


Review by Mandeep Arora on May 5, 2024.

Abstractly speaking, if an album was to be a serial killer, this one would be it. You see, for more than an hour, it creeps behind you, shrouding your every step, leering at your presence, forever in possession of that blood-stained knife and making subtle yet chilling remarks about gashing your throat open, all the while smirking menacingly... It's a heavy, intimidating feeling listening to this menace of an album - the opening song with its nasty bass creeping in on you is enough to give you the chills and make you realise these aren't going to be the easiest 69 minutes. Words like ugly, uncouth and nasty aren't nice in real life usage but super-worthy praises in the metal world and this album is every bit of those. And then some...

On my first-time listen, I had a pretty hard time coming to terms with this impious monster. It seemed so unhinged, sinister and creepy that I felt totally fagged out by the time it ended. I did not expect much from the sound since I'd never listened to the band before, but a good look at the album cover drawn by the infamous American serial killer John Gacy made me conjure up a rough idea already. The actual album was far more intimidating. The opening song The Blue leaves an indelible impression with its thick and groovy bass, almost molesting you with its nastiness and then the slow and heavy riffs are deployed to telling effect, meandering for a good while before opening into a vast expanse of faster riffs, angry vocals and tight drumming. It doesn't matter whether you like it or not, you aren't going to forget your first acquaintance with this song and the undeniable impact it has on you.

The other songs follow suit and seem pretty influential in their own right, drawing heavily from the aforementioned formula of slow and fast riffing but each one having its own distinct personality. You can hear the switch between sludge and doom metal styles primarily, convincingly and organically. But it's not confined to that and you also hear mild death metal influences. There are two ballads, much softer in comparison and totally at odds with the flock of mean, angry songs plaguing this album. Scream of the Butterfly especially is a beautiful one on account of its overtly acoustic overtures but packing some truly horrifying lyrics. Some of the slower sections sound sublime and they're interposed with the frenzied, fuming bits from the guitars, drums and raspy vocals; the cleaner vocals on top of the growling ones impart the album a certain chilling demeanour. The bass is thick, nasty and overpowering but appealingly so and the drumming's pretty tight and one of the high points, with a fair bit of double bass and a meeker form of blast beats in a few instances.

I have rambled well-enough about how this is a daunting album, not least because of its atmosphere but also because of the lyrics - profane, violent and straight up creepy. Some of them are pretty knotty and hard to decipher, kind of open to your interpretation while some are simpler in comparison and more obvious about their meaning. An excerpt from Finger Paintings of the Insane says the following:

"Come on and sterilize me
Kneel down and idolize me
Suck me
Fuck me
Resurrect me
Rut me
Cut me and infect me
Slice me
Dice me
I want to die screaming

The thoughts of dead babies
Wiped away with my semen

Bleed me
Feed me and inject me
Feel me
Kill me
Then dissect me"

I personally find this kind of stuff far more unsettling than death metal's stupid gory mania or black metal's constant and hilarious reverence of Satan. It doesn't help that nearly every song on this album has lyrics of a similar nature and makes my brain go hazy.

Now to its Achilles Heel: its length, or rather the number of songs in it. When I first saw it had 14 songs, I was kind of skeptical if it was a bit much and whether all 14 of them would engage consistently and thoroughly. They did not. Provided it was my first time, I gave it many more chances and multiple listens later, I can affirm the second half is boring and in stark contrast to the excellence of the first; tracks 1-7 are original and groundbreaking whereas tracks 8-14 are repetitive and unnecessary, with some being straight up filler. I'd still say Dope Fiend, The Bones of Baby Dolls and Casie Eats Cockroaches are mildly interesting but the rest is best avoided. These songs seem like quick rehashes of the first half's greatest tunes, albeit nowhere near as nicely executed and sounding generic in comparison. The last 30 or so minutes on the album, in my opinion, are unnecessary, underwhelming and unmemorable and that mars the listening experience for me.

If we cut the excess flab, there’s a truly fantastic album hidden somewhere in there. But sadly it can't be ignored there's a good amount of filler material that unnecessarily bloats the album and kind of drags it down. I prefer its sweeter lil' brother Paegan Terrorism Tactics as the better album by the band and whenever I do listen to When the Kite String Pops, I tend to skip the second half most of the times if not all the time. But that's just me. For a pioneering sludge metal sound in the mid-nineties when it wasn't as prevalent, this album takes some beating and indeed is the landmark of the genre. Love it or hate it, you are NOT going to forget your first-ever acquaintance with it, so strong and memorable is its mien, and for that, it deserves full marks.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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Review by Allan on September 8, 2002.

Bands that transcend genre’s in their music is something that is quite popular in the metal scene today, and rightfully so. It’s certainly not a new thing, seeing as Acid Bath, along with others, was doing it in the early 90’s and far before. The difference between today’s bands that like to toss every influence under the sun into their music and Acid Bath is that where former fail, Acid Bath make the connection with manner and grace. “When The Kite String Pop’s” is Acid Bath’s first full-length contribution to music and it’s a very good beginning to their short career.

When we put all the sounds and influences of Acid Bath into one convenient tag, it becomes known as what many people call ‘Louisiana Swamp Metal’. They’re about as thick as the southern end’s humid air and almost as welcoming. Building that atmosphere are their references: early doom metal ala Black Sabbath, Rock & Roll, death metal, and other various outputs.

When Acid Bath finally starts to rev the engine of their fine craft, you will witness one monstrous album of monolithic proportions. The way they achieve this is by a little thing that I like to call ‘variety’. Acid Bath can and will perform those intense rides that hammer against your skull, but they’re all aware that a break from the intensity is being called for. They don’t have any doubts about grabbing an acoustic guitar, taking their distortion down a level, or changing the tempo. Those tempo changes are a necessity for making the songs appealing, and it’s no surprise that the band nails those swift transitions with ease. Not just transitions of tempo though - they do everything well. From sludgy riffs into mood enhancing cleanness, Dax Rigg’s howls to his singing that sounds as calm as a prayer, and from each song into the next. Yet even with all the different motions that Acid Bath go through, they still make way so that with every note you can feel that emotion of each member. Acid Bath have taken all of the important things about music and taken them to new heights, and personalized them in the form of “When the Kite String Pops”.

If you didn’t get the indication that each of the members are important in Acid Bath yet, then know now that they are. Let me explain. Every member’s presence is felt here strongly, but nobody takes more than their fair share. So when Audie Pitre churns out those bass lines at full force in front of everyone else, it’s not because he wants to impress you. It’s because that’s what the song needs. And when Jimmy Kyle beats you with his precision drumming, he isn’t worried if you think he doesn’t use enough of his double bass drum. His ideas are more than fantastic for everybody and everything. Guitarists Sammy Duet and Mike Sanchez work together section after section, not trying to out due each other, but to just do the best that they can. And Dax Riggs, the member who arguably owns the larges share in the bands stock, makes all those loose ends come together at the end. When you put these five into the same room they will always continue to blossom.

Bottom Line: Even though “When the Kite String Pops” is very good it’s not as awesome as the follow up, “Pagan Terrorism Tactics”. This is still a worthy album to be in your collection.

Categorical Rating Breakdown

Musicianship: 8
Atmosphere: 7
Production: 7
Originality: 8
Overall: 7

Rating: 7.4 out of 10

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