Friday, March 18, 2011

Sine is Fine, but Sludge is thicker.

I can only take so much math. I was a split major in college- one major was a science (Electrical Engineering) and one a liberal Art ( English Lit)- so I can hang with more math than your average Artsy fartsy type, but I have my limitations. Higher level calculus blows my mind, and trigonometry nearly killed me. The same goes for stuff that colloquially gets called "Math"; I can take Meshuggah, but Dillinger Escape plan is too much, I can take Shellac, but Circus Lupus leaves me behind. The issue is that I really like the math that I like, and so people assume that I like all Math, when I just am enthusiastic about some.
So, when I say that my favorite United Sons of Toil release is this newest one- " When the Revolution Comes, Everything will be Beautiful", a fair assumption would be that they're still straight Math rock, when that's neither the case, nor the reason I like it. I actually like the points at which it deviates from Math- there are touches of Sludge Metal, and dance Punk in there- and mixing that with Midwestern Math Rock interests me more than if they'd gone the way of the Flying Luttenbachers. I would say that the math influences are getting closer to Shellac than Jesus Lizard, on this one, while the structural complexity seems closer to Report Suspicious Activity, and other J Robbins-fueled Emo Punk than to Don Cabellero. I think that might be due to some sub-or un- conscious bleedover from their Joy Division project ( my thought is this- J Robbins, John Reis{ Drive Like Jehu}, Jim Wall {Kerosene 454} and others have talked about Joy Division as an influence, while later Emo, and Math derives more from other sources) but regardless of source, i'm a much bigger fan of say, Arcwelder or Honor Role than I am of Dazzling Killmen or Shipping News. ( Getting Dizzy, yet?).
Let's dispense with the labels, then, and use analogies- the sound that USOT have is more like Vic Bondi's and J Robbin's and the Hobson brothers ( I'm hearing a fair amount of Killdozer. What's up with Madison?) mixed with greg Ginn's and Kirk Fisher's than anything else. I'm hearing the politics of Report Suspicious Activity mixed with Killdozer, and the beats of Polvo- played at Amphetamine Reptile volume. Heck, I'm even hearing some Helmut dynamics. As a matter of fact, the band mentions Touch and Go records, and they'd be a somewhat ill-fit to that roster, but I think they'd have been perfectly at home on Am Rep, at least musically. I can see them playing with Unsane and godheadSilo, at some Student Union, somewhere, sometime in the 1990's. The band cites Unwound, and I can see that, but you'd have to beat Unwound up, then train them to box to get the sound tough enough.
I will admit, it starts a bit slowly for me. Songs like "Alcoholism in the Former Soviet Republics" call back to the last record, which was very good, but a known quantity at this point- it's all Squall and release. Also, the more noisy production is sometimes a great choice, and other times obscuring. However, from the keening start of "Sword of Damocles" until the last note of "State Sponsored Terrorism" it's some superlative dissonant complex post-hardcore/Math/Sludge/skronk, on par with Quicksand- and more on why Quicksand is a favorite in later posts...


  1. Thanks for the kind words Max.

  2. Rusty- not to be a nudge, but they'd only be kind if they were intended to be nicer than deserved- You guys really outdid yourself with the second half of this new one, and I want people to listen to it.