Michigan’s notorious noiseniks, Wolf Eyes, have returned with a slightly different line-up and a brilliant new record called Human Animal. Although, with the numerous fetishized CD-R, lathe-cut laserdiscs, and vinyl only releases in the wake of Burned Mind it’s like they never went away. This one’s got all of the burnt out jams, wasted atonal horn skronk, and digital vomit you could possibly want. With the departure of Aaron Dilloway (who still helped in mixing the album) and the addition of Hair Police’s Mike Connelly, these tireless directors of violent scrape and skree haven’t even come close to running out of steam.
I’m not sure how many Wolf Eyes releases have come out this year alone but recent ones include the Black Vomit collaboration with jazz musician Anthony Braxton, the one-sided Guillotine Keys LP, the double LP River Slaughter collecting the River of Haze and Human Slaughterhouse CD-Rs, the Six Arms and Sucks CD-R, and The Black Plague split with Grey Daturas. That’s a whole hell of a lot of records for a band still devoting studio time to its widely distributed Sub Pop releases. From what I’ve heard of those, the group seems to be mining gold from all of these collaborations and experiments and bringing it to its logical fruition on Human Animal.
Instead of the alternating sections of clang and throb of Burned Mind, Wolf Eyes go for the jugular in a slightly different manner this time around. Human Animal is frontloaded with the creepy post-apocalyptic sound of piercing horns and slow gurgling feedback from “A Million Years” and “Lake of Roaches” to “Rationed Riot.” By the time the title track rears its ugly head the band kicks things into high gear with pulsing bass tentacles, tearing static, and deranged vocal madness. “Rusted Mange” is a blathering mess of detuned low-end punches and shrieking electronic malevolence. Distorted screams pile up until it reaches the 1:38 mark, dropping out on a wall of screeching noise only to hit you below the belt for another thirty seconds. “Leper War” is all subharmonic rumble and metallic clatter, a veritable bridge to the end of the album. “The Driller,” being the single from Human Animal, follows in the footsteps of Burned Mind anthems like “Stabbed in the Face” and “Village Oblivia.” Wolf Eyes then gives us “Noise Not Music” as Human Animal’s departing gift, a cover of obscure New York d-beat hardcore band No Fucker. It might as well be a Wolf Eyes song for all anyone cares. I seriously doubt the original version sounds anything like this.
While Wolf Eyes has a tendency to release just about everything laid to tape, full-length documents such as Burned Mind, Dead Hills, Dread, and Slicer are more than just a testament to the group’s endurance. These records are markers, proof of the band’s growth from one period in its history to the next. Human Animal is not just some spectacle of moronic attitude flaunting by attention hungry debutantes. This is a punishing record that manages to be both incredibly dense and yet highly listenable.