Angel Rot

Unlistenable Hymns of Indulgent Damnage

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Angel Rot's Unlistenable Hymns of Indulgent Damnage was one of the most unique-sounding and grammatically challenged stoner rock albums issued in 1999, even by the underground genre's already unconventional standards. The fact that it had actually been recorded six years earlier goes a long way toward explaining this, but uninformed listeners may also notice that the album bears more than a few similarities to another very popular '90s band, White Zombie. This, in turn, is easily explained by Angel Rot's pedigree, seeing as the band's leader is none other than founding White Zombie guitarist Tom Five. With that in mind, one can clearly understand why Hymns often sounds like a natural progression of the early Zombie sound, prior to that band's commercial breakthrough via MTV. Not only are Five's cavernous, ogre-like vocals nearly identical to Rob Zombie's, but his lyrics also often mirror those of his former running mate, thanks to their peculiar combination of esoteric subject matter and B-movie imagery (the latter obsession is also made explicit by the album's hilarious "cloaked druid" cover artwork). But except for occasionally stellar moments like the lurching riff of "Erotic Catacomb," the mesmerizing drone of "Dirt Trip," and the furious "Clean Disease" (witness Five's tortured screams), the album's songwriting isn't all that impressive. Instead, it's Five's guitar work that draws serious "wows" here, especially his incendiary solos during "Necrostrangle" and the excellent "Screwdrive." Serious fans of doom metal will also particularly enjoy the lumbering sloth of instrumentals "Life/Death Strobe" and the spectacularly titled "Callous Caul of Gloom," but casual listeners should start their stoner rock library elsewhere.

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