Dixie Dave and the boys’ latest LP comes to us courtesy of the mighty Season of Mist, the storied heavy music label that’s reissued Weedeater’s back catalog in recent years; and if you own any Weedeater, you already know what a new record’s gonna haul. The Wilmington, North Carolina crew’s sedated faithful know each release will bring plenty of funk, dirt and wordplay. What they can’t always predict is what kind of curveballs are gonna get slipped into the sequence. Goliathan‘s opening track, “Processional,” is a low-key Hammond-and-slide intro affair, punctuated near its end with Dixie’s gravelly, Cape Fear-esque snarl issuing a series of threats fitting of the DeNiro comparison. With an opener this sly, we’d expect something live & kickin’ to follow it, but that’s not really how this record shapes up. The next three tracks, “Goliathan,” “Cain Enabler,” and “Bow Down,” are replete with traditional swamp stomp and howl, but there’s something… thin about these songs. There’s an element of past efforts’ menace and ferocity that’s present, but in a bit more roped-in fashion than on God Luck or Jason, and that lack gives the tracks an atmosphere of just kinda plodding along rather than thudding at Weedeater’s traditional, drunken gait. This isn’t the case the whole way through though. “Battered & Fried” is light and twangy, as is closer “Benaddiction,” and it’s between these two that Goliathan gets to shine.
“Claw of the Sloth,” one of the record’s longer numbers, quakes and stalks like any of the band’s best moments, and “Bully” kicks the beat up to “Wizard Fight”-speed with an urgency that’d definitely find a welcome home in a live setting. “Joseph (All Talk)” carries the rest of this offering’s depth and swing before giving way to the ambling “Reprise,” followed by “Benaddiction” to close out Goliathan with a bit of static and on a bit of a slant.
If you dug “Hot Doughnuts Now,” the track Weedeater recently contributed to the Scion A/V Presents series, Goliathan‘s probably gonna hit right around your speed. While there’s nothing about the album to out-and-out dislike, there’s definitely something a bit toned-down here, and the fact that it doesn’t punch you in the face isn’t something to hate as much as it is just something to consider. Everybody, even weedmonkeys, have to grow up sometime, and Goliathan feels like the next step in an evolution of maturity that, in retrospect, seems to have taken root with Jason… the Dragon. While the aggression and rowdiness of “Time Served,” and the controlled demolition of “Monkey Junction” and “For Evan’s Sake” may not be as prevalent in Weedeater’s current sound, it’s still Weedeater, and given that the album pre-order bundle came with a book of extra-fine rolling papers, odds are longtime fans and like-minded self-medicators will have plenty of other incentives to give Goliathan as many spins as it takes to make the record feel like home.
Goliathan is available May 19th from Season of Mist.