Today’s Célébration Canadienne continues! Catch up here if you missed the first part, otherwise feel free to keep on reading…
The Great Sabatini – Dog Years (Solar Flare Records / No Why Records / Sludge Hummer, 02 June 2014)
The Great Sabatini – Goodbye Audio (No Why Records / Ancient Temple Recordings / No List Records / Pink Lemonade Records, 16 November 2018)
Greber – Cemetery Preston (No Why Records / Ancient Temple Recordings / D7i Records / Hibernation Release / Pink Lemonade Records, 02 February 2018)
Earlier today we discussed three releases by two interrelated Canadian bands — and now we’re doing it all over again!
The Great Sabatini features drummer Steve Vargas who was briefly alluded to in my earlier story about meeting Biipiigwan, guitarist Sean Arsenian and bassist Joey Cormier who handle the same duties in Cell Press (whose debut album we also covered earlier), plus another guitarist known only as Rob Sabatini. (To be fair, all four normally adopt Ramones– or Ween-style pseudonyms when it comes to their membership in this band.)
As with my earlier story about Biipiigwan, I was fortunate to catch Sabatini when they came to town once upon a time, and can personally attest to the intensity and vigor they exude in a live performance. Also memorable about that occasion was meeting Sean, who talked about how he had designed and constructed that awesome monster puppet photographed on 2014’s Dog Years.
Over the course of about thirty-two minutes, that record clearly displays the band’s wide range of personalities: from lightning-fast intricate phrases to crawlingly-slow sludgy trudge, often switching gears at the drop of a hat. From harsh hardcore yelling to occasionally slipping into a low-key bluesy singing. Frenzied bursts of almost thrashlike hardcore riffing to heavy monolithic doom bashing — specifically, the couple extended sections of staccato unison hits that appear in “Munera” were probably the thing that drew me in more than anything else, when I saw the band live AND on this album.
2018’s follow-up Goodbye Audio also features photography of some creatures guitarist Sean created — cobbled together from dismembered action figures, Sid from Toy Story style, and arranged into various scenes.
The album also runs a little over half an hour, once again exploring varied terrain, this time with a bit more emphasis on hardcore and post-hardcore, as well as shuffling between sludge, grunge, noise, and heavy doom. Like that Cell Press album we listened to earlier, this one too has a much longer (over forty percent of the total running time) closing track, “Hand of Unmaking”; this is just as unpredictable and seemingly random as the rest of the Sabatinis’ output: partly experimental noisescapes, indecipherable talking, and avant-garde guitar sounds; partly dipping back into the harsh noise-rock and screaming; and just for the hell of it, a distorted organ in the background and occasional appearance of a violin (or possibly viola?) dancing across the foreground before finally closing out with more colossal DOOOOOOM.
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As a bonus, and the last thing we’ll be sharing today (I promise!), here’s one more 2018 release. Greber is one-half The Great Sabatini (and Biipiigwan) drummer Steve; and the other half is bassist/vocalist Marc Bourgon, formerly of Canadian grinders Fuck the Facts.
Between and within the nine tracks of Cemetery Preston, there’s also a bit of variety in tempos and whiplash-inducing shifts, but the material is somewhat more confined to the neighborhood of death-grind, death-thrash, and death-sludge. The vocals, either solo or doubled to fill out the sound a bit, all range between a deep bellow and a deep roar. The two instruments consistently complement and supplement each other rhythmically in various creative ways — rarely slipping into standard patterns like a traditional blastbeat, and never for very long. Possibly the closest thing to a melody to be found here would be the descending riff that dominates most of “By Any Other Name,” but to be honest it’s such a cool bassline that this song stands out as one of my favorites.
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Buy Dog Years here (digital/vinyl – US), here (digital/CD – US) or here (dig/vinyl/CD – CAN). Goodbye Audio is available digitally here (US) or here (CAN); No Why still has the vinyl here (CAN) or Ancient Temple has it here (CAN); and finally, Pink Lemonade has it on cassette with an exclusive bonus track here (CAN).
Cemetery Preston can be found here (digital – US) or here (dig/CD/vinyl/cassette – CAN); Pink Lemonade also has the CD here (CAN), and Hibernation Release also has the cassette here (US).
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