Ty Segall, bandleader, runs things a little differently than Ty Segall, solo artist. Give soloist Segall a guitar and the dude refuses to sit still—we know this from his staggering anthology of 20-something EP, LP, 45 and compilation releases since he took his own name in 2008. But give Ty Segall a whole band, as the universe graciously did for his recent national tour and Slaughterhouse, the second of three albums planned for 2012, and, well, you’d better hope the roof is reinforced.
Bolstered by studio production muscle and help from drummer Emily Rose Epstein, bassist-slash-longtime-Ty-ally Mikal Cronin and guitarist Charlie Moothart, Slaughterhouse is a riff-happy head-trip that spins in more cohesively sludgy circles than anything we’ve heard from Segall yet. The jangly chords and Lennon-frail vocals that characterized last year’s Goodbye Bread as well as Ty’s excellent collaboration with White Fence are buried here, trampled to mush by a stoney, thunderous groove rampaging out of the primordial sludge of album opener “Death” like a pale horseman late for his Judas Priest farewell tailgate, then charging drunkenly forward on its own slick momentum for another 35 minutes or so. This is the heaviest collection Ty’s ever dropped, and that’s saying something.
Seriously, though. Track two sledgehammer “I Bought My Eyes” is almost stereotypically heavy; it’s the vaguely articulate offense of noise that greets ’90s detectives whenever they trace a dubious lead into that one Seedy Youth Basement Club they always seem to wind up in. “Slaughterhouse,” our minute-and-a-half-long title track, is the album’s heart of mud, violently defibrillated. A snarling cover of Bo Diddley and Willie Dixon’s “Diddy Wah Diddy” is the album’s fuzzed-out battle cry, abruptly silenced by Ty’s own howl of “Fuck this fucking song!” Nice to see that bandleader Segall is as impatient and frantic as ever.
For most of the album, Epstein, Cronin and Moothart are felt as a thick, wet presence behind Ty’s various guitar and vocal exorcisms. But the metronomic bass-and-drum combo into Fred Neil‘s “That’s The Bag I’m In” sheds a full 14-second spotlight on the support staff before our hero enters with his wheeziest Howlin’ Wolf impression. There are plenty of other love letters to garage-trashing kin spray painted on Ty’s Slaughterhouse walls: The slow descent into reverb murk on “Wave Goodbye” takes a similar trajectory as “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground,” and even Ty’s own “Oh Mary” gets a heavy makeover.
But, more than anything else, these 11 tracks pay homage to the electric guitar, and none more so than the textural shiver of the 10-minute album closer, “Fuzz War.” This self-explanatory assault is the perfect conclusion to a master’s thesis of reverb, crafted by an electric orator who, more and more, finds the pithiest ways to worship the guitar as instrument, drug and weapon.