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Caltrop

Caltro

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Caltrop

Caltrop

(self-released)

The word on this Caltrop four-track: It's a demo recorded by Mark Messings in Chicago in September that turned out so well when it was peeled off of Nick Peterson's mixing board at Polyphonic Studios in Chapel Hill, the band decided to self-release it as an EP, artwork done by bassist Murat Dirlik and vocalist Sam Taylor.

The better word on the eponymous debut: Thankfully. Caltrop's entrée combines the belief that passion can't be conveyed in 1/64th notes, but that metal--sludgy, dynamic and heavy, maybe like The Melvins, certainly like Sleep--can tell it exactly like it is.

Consider Sam Taylor's vocals on "What in Life That is Worth," a quotidian agro-number written by a guy who has stretched himself too thin and whose day job is killing his life's real work a bit more each day. "My mind is pain. And some things astound me," whelps Taylor, sounding like Slint's Brian McMahon, fighting for air and energy. Dueling hammer-on/off, high-end guitars disappear and reappear beneath the record's easiest drum trot, courtesy of Jason Aylward, who shines here. Adam Nolton's guitar sails out for a solo five minutes in, channeling the break in "Whole Lotta Love" with its insistence on writhing around in serpentine solitude. Without warning, those tones invert, bass and drums plummet, and Taylor is done complaining. Now, he is here to take what is his.

"Where are my rights? I've paid my dues. Is it a matter of funding?" he screams at the six-minute mark, a High on Fire enormity crashing down through overdriven guitars and Aylward's rolls and carefully shifting time signatures. It's a revelation, a moment where our protagonist will either succumb or succeed.

This is the most cathartic thing that anyone in this band--which includes members of The Ladderback, Continent, Valient Thorr, Kerbloki, Pegasus and El Sucio--has released to date. And, for reiteration, it's their debut. Thrilling.

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