Whenever I attempt to mount my (admittedly specious) “nu-metal was a plague upon all metal” argument, I’m met with a counterargument suggesting that grunge was equally responsible for metal’s ill health in the ’90s/early-’00s. I disagree. I’ve addressed this before, but the essence of my response is: In many respects, grunge was just an extension of metal; many of the genre’s practitioners were metal artists with metal DNA, and beyond the superficial trappings, their music varied little from traditional metal. It took influence from punk, sure, but so did Slayer and Metallica. Kurt Cobain chose Andy Wallace to mix Nevermind because Wallace was the engineer on Slayer’s Reign In Blood. Soundgarden toured Louder Than Love with progressive metal bands Faith No More and Voivoid; they toured Badmotorfinger with hair-metal gods Guns N’ Roses. And so on. The distinction, I maintain, was nominal. Case in point: The Melvins. Or Alice In Chains. Or TAD.
TAD were the Seattle-based group led by Tad Doyle, and once upon a time, they were positioned to be one of grunge’s breakout bands post-Nevermind. The fact that they never actually broke out was a fucking crime, but their ’90s output is loaded with some of the heaviest, catchiest riffs ever produced by any grunge act. If you don’t already own 8-Way Santa and Inhaler, go get them. You’ll thank me. Anyway, after the dissolution of TAD in the late-’90s, Doyle formed the band Hog Molly, who released one album — 2000’s Kung-Fu Cocktail Grip — before splitting. (Doyle also played in the band Hoof, who never released anything, as far as I can tell.) In 2008, Doyle started a new group called Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth with bassist Peggy Doyle and drummer Dave French. That band has been playing out for years, but it’s only now that they’re set to release their self-titled debut album — the first new music from Tad Doyle in a decade and a half.
Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth is unabashedly metal, of the doom variety (the subgenre most similar to grunge, and to which grunge is most indebted). It’s being released via Neurot Records, the label run by the great post-metal pioneers Neurosis; Neurot was also responsible for 2014’s best doom metal album (frankly 2014’s best album, period, IMO), YOB’s Clearing The Path To Ascend. And if you like Neurosis or YOB (or TAD, naturally), you would do well to listen to Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth. It’s a HUMONGOUS album that moves slowly but with great agility, surprising grace, and grand down-tuned hooks. Tad Doyle is a ferocious guitarist, and his playing shifts from doom to thrash to trad metal without altering the identity or integrity of the song; his vocals are a textured roar; the rhythm section, meanwhile, just pulverizes. It’s an extraordinary listening experience. Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth was a long time in the making, and you can hear that; it feels like an album that has been baking slowly, rising from the ground, from a little acorn to a mighty oak. It’s here now, and this thing towers. The album is out this week, preceded by a single, “Unnamed,” which you can hear below. I recommend it, and I recommend seeking out the LP, because it shouldn’t be missed. It will be waiting for you in December, on lists of 2015’s best records. Hell, like 8-Way Santa and Inhaler, it will be waiting for you decades from now — because this is not shit that goes away; this is music that lasts forever — and if you sleep on it today, people like me will still be telling you that you slept on something big, something great. Do not sleep. Unless this is what you mean by Sleep. Or, to quote YOB: “Time to wake up.”
Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth is out 2/17 via Neurot.