Archers of Loaf "Icky Mettle" CDPosted on Friday, January 18th, 2008 @ 6:45am » permalink
Archers of Loaf formed in the early-90's in North Carolina and released four full-lengths and a slew of EP's before calling it quits around 1998, and here's another band that I didn't really get into until way late, and again I'm not exactly sure why, because I was exposed to their material many, many times over the years, it just never really clicked with me until a couple of years ago. The guy that drove me to school for a portion of my senior year of high school used to listen to this band almost every single day in the car, and while I don't recall being averse to them at the time (I was probably just glad he listened to something that wasn't "normal"), I know I didn't really care for them – after all, I was listening to a lot of death metal and getting into more and more hardcore at the time. But what's weird is that he must have been listening to their debut album, "Icky Mettle" – which was released in late-1993 on Alias Records and would've been the only Archers of Loaf album out at the time – as that's the album that eventually won me over, and remains my favorite of their output to this day.
Looking back, I guess I can understand why I didn't "get it" way back then. The production wasn't crisp enough, the playing was far too sloppy, it's all just so… noisy. And, well, not metal, ha, ha! I mean, I was all over Cynic's "Focus" (which pretty much turned my world upside down in 1993), Carcass' "Heartwork", Morbid Angel's "Covenant", and I'm sure a hundred other such records at the time. I was not all over anything that had anything to do with jangly, angular indie rock of any kind, you know what I mean? So, yeah, it took some time. Too much time, mind you: I definitely should've been able to properly appreciate the brilliance of this material at least five years earlier than I finally did, but it was just one those time and place things. It happened when it happened. And as usual, when something like this takes place, I feel like a complete moron, because when it all does fall into place I don't understand why I didn't hear it that way all along!? I mean, when I finally decided to make an effort to check out this album, I was pretty much instantly hooked, and immediately understood what all the fuss had been about.
You know, you'll read all those stupid phrases like "indie darlings" and all that shit that regular people would never actually say about a band unless they were being sarcastic, but you still get it. Because somehow – and especially on this album – these guys were able to take these raw, noisy, roughly recorded, ruggedly performed, fucked up little twisted and discordantly textured melodies and craft perfect fucking songs out of 'em. It's really strange how catchy and energetic but still kind of moody and emotional and overall well-balanced the material is. And that's what totally hooked me the most in retrospect. Because you kind of form these preconceived notions about music like this – that it's just kind of grating, a little irritating, overly sloppy and crude (which all sounds too harsh, but we are talking about preconceived notions here, and that's often how the story goes there) – but the quality of the songwriting and that balance really shatters all of that. Not that elements of those characteristics aren't present, because they are, but that's what makes it so interesting and weird and just fuckin' awesome. I don't know. It took more than a decade, but I'm a huge, huge fan now…