Salt Lick/God's Balls

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Easily the heaviest band to have released material via Sub Pop, Tad Doyle and his eponymous outfit began the grizzled metal assault with God's Balls in 1989, then followed up a year later with Salt Lick. As heavyweight bookends, each album was also produced, ironically, by engineers whose careers were elevated by recording Nirvana albums: Jack Endino (God's Balls) with Bleach and Steve Albini (Salt Lick) with In Utero. For Sub Pop, Tad presented an anomalous situation; these were gigantic men -- particularly Doyle himself -- with a real fondness for the woodsmen aesthetic: chainsaws, big trucks, weaponry, lumberjack gear, and positively bulldozing riffs and rhythms. Along with Helmet, Tad helped set the template for the heavyweight crossover metal bands who populated the airwaves and MTV in the late '90s. But Doyle's gift as a writer was not only in constructing megaliths of rock, but in incorporating an inherent tunefulness and melody in each song, thereby tempering the ham-fistedness of most of the material, all delivered, of course, with his Texas Chainsaw Massacre vocals. On these two albums the band was honing their chops. Some claim these to be the Tad's finest, but that was yet to come. 8-Way Santa ratchets up the melodic structures a little further, and from there Tad went on to record two albums for major labels, neither of which assisted the band in any way.

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