Oxbow - Love That's Last (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Love That's Last (2006)

Hydra Head

I really don't even know what to say on this one. Hydra Head has always seemingly made it a mission of theirs to both challenge and baffle any potential listener with the records put out from bands on their roster. Oxbow is certainly the rule and not the exception, and this collection of songs spanning their almost 20-year career exemplifies just that.

As much free-form psychedelia as anything, this infusion of rock, jazz, and noise is one that will undoubtedly challenge anyone choosing to listen for the 50 minutes that it plays for. The enemy here is convention, and they staunchly fight it with every absurd time signature, drawn out noise section, or slow-churning metal piece with what almost seem like spoken word vocals. It's so simultaneously scatterbrained and deliberate, that it's hard to really comprehend the songwriting process that went into some of these.

Take at first, "The Valley," beginning with the low, droning vocals and acoustic guitar combination that you would not expect to hear on an album like this. As it progresses, slowly albeit, a certain appreciation for the simple beauty is developed. The singer is no Johnny Cash, but there is an oddly compelling quality to his seemingly nonsensical musings. And it can't be called out of place, either, as this ‘album,' as mentioned before, is a collection of songs strewn together from various LP's and performances. The very next song offers a polar opposite from the previous one, as the acoustic guitar is replaced by deep grooves, thick fuzz and drone, and vocals that sound borderline inhuman. Not because they're loud and screechy, quite the opposite, but each word sounds like the last gasping breath of a man dying from a stab wound. An unsettling sound as you may find on an album, as you could imagine. The song doesn't seem to follow any particular direction, as most of these don't, instead letting that free-form psychedelic approach really take hold.

This combination of Sabbath-esque metal, psychedelic sounds, acoustic guitar, and wrenching "vocals" is one of the oddest concoctions of I've come across. I can't either pan or recommend this album, as it doesn't doesn't have any sort of real affect on me. As I mentioned, Hydra Head's been known to put out some weird releases, but they might have truly outdone themselves this time around.