U.S. Christmas

Run Thick in the Night

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U.S. Christmas coast into their fifth album, 2010's Run Thick in the Night, like the long black hearse leading a funeral procession -- possibly their own, given the drowsy, 13-minute "nothing" embodied by the opening cut, "In the Night," which barely raises a pulse despite the occasional post-metal reverberations that shake it to its core. Get used to it. For this is neither a blunder nor slight of hand, but precisely the vague, structure-averse sound that U.S. Christmas have called their own for nigh on ten years, as corroborated by the numerous similar examples that follow, including "Deep Green" (think Dead Meadow on downers) and "Ephraim in the Stars," which nurses Link Wray's "Rumble" riff sequence to its failing, dying breath. Along the way, U.S. Christmas also commandeer Hawkwind's starship cruiser for the all-out space rock of "Wolf on Anareta," feign a mush-mouthed Sons of Otis on "Maran," and deliver a drunken 16 Horsepower with the bowed violins and theremin guiding sonically spare material like "Fire Is Sleeping" and "Devil's Flower in Mother Winter." But unless one succumbs wholeheartedly to USX's slurry herbal concoction and overlooks the frequently echoing, toneless vocals haunting all the proceedings (a doomed spirit cursed to wander the Earth somewhere between Lemmy Kilmister and Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf, while packing neither one's iconic power), Run Thick in the Night feels like a bad acid trip that never ends -- certainly not by Christmas, and probably not on U.S. soil. But then, some folks are perfectly happy to float in hyperspace forever, and for that activity this is an ideal soundtrack.

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