Oklahoma City’s Chat Pile hail from a long, proud Midwestern tradition of sheer, unadulterated ugliness. Their music feels like a tattered, grease-stained, shotgun-blasted mood board of ’80s and ’90s noise rock. In the quartet’s gruff, pugilistic songs you can detect the eviscerating howls of the Jesus Lizard’s David Yow, the wilting bass of Amphetamine Reptile-era Helmet, and the solid-state mechanism and unrelenting meanness of Big Black—plus a little bit of drop-tuned nu-metal, for good measure. Chat Pile take their name from the slag heaps of their native region, toxic mounds of lead-contaminated mine refuse, and you can hear, feel, and taste that legacy in their noxious low end: They take the sludge of bands like Melvins and Eyehategod and make it literal.
But despite Chat Pile’s period influences, their music feels ragingly vital. That much is self-evident from “Slaughterhouse,” the lead single from their forthcoming debut album, God’s Country. This is no pigfuck cosplay; it’s a report from an America that’s even more diseased than in noise rock’s Reagan-and-Bush-cursed heyday. The combination of bassist Stin’s gravelly pick work and Luther Manhole’s detuned guitar feels like despair distilled. Captain Ron’s stop-start drums mimic the unwilling trudge of daily life in a capitalist hellscape, and singer Raygun Busch’s guttural growls are pain and confusion incarnate. “If we could only fly away now,” he croaks, his voice cracking like eczema. He bellows about the eyes of God, the shedding of blood, the inability of escape; he lands, again and again, on the agonized refrain, “Hammers and grease!” Is he singing in the character of a particular tortured soul? Or simply giving voice to the trauma of the nation as it bleeds out a slow and ignominious death? Whatever the case, “Slaughterhouse” feels depressingly prescient for a month like this one, as we witness the horror of multiple mass shootings. “All the blood/All the blood/And the fuckin’ sound, man/You never forget their eyes,” he shouts through strained larynx. “And the sad eyes, goddammit/And the screaming/There’s more screaming than you’d think.”