“Fuck the critics. We do what we want,” so says Saul Seibert of Boo Hag about the new sound on the band’s latest release, Burial Ground, and it’s easy to believe the singer’s swagger; the Columbia swamp punk group has been fighting against so many things since its inception: a locale that is sometimes not so beneficial to new music, a scene that tends to look down upon “garage rock”, and of course real life woes that range from family dilemmas to worldwide catastrophes. With this record, though, they has finally cemented themselves as the premier South Carolina band, the one we have all been waiting for, the one who might finally throw the yoke of old ’90s alt-rock bands from upon us.
Opener “Burial Ground” starts with weird sound effects and then with the John Zorn-like injection of power new band member Thomas Hammond brings with his saxophone, he turns it up a notch. His playing is the key here to creating a “new” Boo Hag, but make no mistake – this is what has always laid in wait for us, it’s just now apparent. The title track has no connection to our current state of world wide crisis, but it’s an adept and not ironic connection to how close we all are to our mortality. The Sabbathian rain background that precedes “Skin” becomes a cool mix of ’80s pop sax interlaced with drug metaphors until you can’t notice anything but Saul yawling it out with more formidable fury than any Boo Hag record before. Ending with more found sounds, it’s an incredible use of the sax to update the band’s previous modus operandi. “Medication” has the band blowing through a heavy, industrial number – a slow-burning Bauhaus-meets-Voivod intensity shows the new learned power of the band. The song “Crown” returns from their earlier Testify EP into a different apocalyptic beast rising from the sea, thanks to Hammond. “Jungle” is almost college-rockish and it’s a weird and welcome change, proving once again the range of the band. The “other” side of the album doesn’t feature Hammond on sax and is back to the straight-forward Boo Hag of yore: “FUUSA” is probably the most primordial of these songs, a archetypical protest song devolving into primal screams that black metal dudes wish they had tucked into their samples, with Seibert serving as the immortal carnival barker, the all-enlightened MC. “Talk” is pure catharsis and straight up old school Boo Hag, and it works wonders to loosen the back up after an album that sometimes can take a lot out of a listener and that leads into “Make Up” with its full-on Nazareth cowbell courtesy of Mr.Scott E. Tempo, who has been driving this monster truck since the beginning. “Time Bomb” is ’60s garage mixed with Dead Kennedys, which might be the best description of Boo Hag I will ever come up with.
You know, we used to do “star” ratings on this site and we relieved ourselves of that a while back, but this record is the only one I would have ever given a 5 star to, I was waiting for it.. and here it is. Both the new incarnation of the band and the recording work of Jay Matheson have pushed the limits of what a South Carolina rock record can be.
Yall, go out and buy this record, support the great artists that make this state great. You can purchase a digital copy at Bandcamp here: Burial Ground and physical copies should be for sale soon. Spotify folks check here: Burial Ground
Sean Knight is a native South Carolinian who has spent his life bouncing back and forth between SC and Texas, playing in bands you probably never heard of in both states and stinking up open-mic nights in the Low Country for many years. He plays, collects, listens to and probably spends too much of his life obsessing over music.