Head of David

Seed State

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Following the 1988 release of Dustbowl, Head of David underwent personnel changes. Bassist Dave Cochrane was replaced by Bipin Kumar, and the band slimmed down to a three-piece as drummer Justin Broadrick departed to focus on Godflesh, his place being taken by a drum machine. Produced by Paul Kendall, Seed State was the trio's only full-length release. Although this album has a richer, denser feel than some of the band's previous work, it lacks the rougher, more confrontational edge of earlier Head of David records like Dustbowl and LP. From track to track, the band rarely strays from the same path, laying down rigid, thumping drum programs and heavy, propulsive basslines as a foundation for abrasive guitars and harsh vocals. This formula is most compelling on tracks like "Human Feel" and "Zen Walker," where driving rhythms and weaving guitar patterns combine to produce an almost hypnotic effect, recalling the repetitive grooves of bands like Loop. Largely due to the omnipresent drum machine, much of this material sounds slightly anachronistic. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, Seed State evokes the work of several '80s antecedents: Big Black, the Three Johns, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and early Sisters of Mercy. On leaving Head of David, Justin Broadrick registered his dissatisfaction with the musical direction his ex-bandmates were taking, accusing them of an unhealthy interest in Bon Jovi. And while it wouldn't be entirely fair to invoke Bon Jovi, the ballad "Kingdom Crawl" nevertheless shows that the band had softened considerably. More perplexing, however, is the delicate cover of Joe Walsh's "Wolf" that closes the album. Just as it ends on a weak note, Seed State -- which appears to have been Head of David's swan song -- sees the group going out with more of a whimper than a bang.

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