Genre breaking side projects and super groups creating fresh takes on familiar sounds have become all the rage lately in the world of heavy music. As mainstream categorization becomes more bifurcated and segregated than ever the formerly disparate, bordering on hostile, metal, punk and hardcore scenes below the radar have melded into one big happy ass kicking family. The latest example: UXO. Chris Spencer of NY proto-grinders Unsane and Steve Austin of Tennessee noise pioneers Today Is The Day have combined their powers to create a new self-titled LP on Reptilian Records that’s even greater than the sum of its legendary parts.
Adopting a doomy sludge attack similar to early eyehategod, UXO lurches to life as a miserable beast reborn on aptly titled opener “Bitter”. Spencer and Austin share vocal and guitar duties and their respective tortured moan and banshee shriek are simultaneously at odds and well complemented amongst alternately droning and wailing guitars and the spare but immediate bass and drums of Aarne Victorine and Patrick Kennedy. As the atonal dissonance breaks free and the chorus soars you’ll be confronted with what is ultimately UXO’s greatest asset, the songwriting.
Incredibly earworm-y melodies and vocal and riff patterns play off of each other throughout the record’s too brief seven track run time. Highlights include shout along rallying cry “Redlegs”, the slinking death march into darkness of “Blind Suicide” and downtrodden contemplation not just in the lyrics but the overall feel of the composition as a whole in standout “Everything’s a Mistake”. The intense sonic craftsmanship here displays the deft hand of these industry vets and proves the nature of this release as a passion project between two longtime friends and colleagues and not just a quick cash in on their considerable legacies in the extreme underground