HAWG JAW
"Don't Trust Nobody"

(Emetic)

01. Stranger in the Window
02. Devein
03. Amongst the Vultures
04. Believe Nothing
05. Bleed it Dry
06. Random Acts of Knifings
07. Huron
08. I Take that Back
09. Worse Case
10. Torn Apart
11. Uncrossing
12. Derailed
13. Baitin' the Traps

RATING: 6/10

Counting members of EYEHATEGOD, CLEARLIGHT, and OUTLAW ORDER in its ranks, it's a cinch that New Orleans' HAWG JAW aren't going to be the next MTV darlings. When you read terms like "sludgecore" in reference to the band's sound, believe it. "Don't Trust Nobody" is the band's fifth full-length and though this is my first exposure to the gnarly ones, I'm leaning toward thinking that sound expansion was not the first order of business in creation of the disc.

More Rollins-era BLACK FLAG, MELVINS, and BUZZOV-EN than EYEHATEGOD, the crust 'n' burn of "Don't Trust Nobody" may not be a watershed release, but there is enough southern, whiskey-laced attitude and abrasive Greg Ginn guitar riffing to satisfy most fans of the rough stuff. Several songs, such as "Stranger in the Window", "Huron", "Derailed", and "I Take that Back" are of the old school hardcore variety, albeit with a propulsive sludge drive and crusty covering. "Random Acts of Knifings" gets the award for most Ginn-like, the knurled and mostly up-tempo BLACK FLAG style more than obvious. The group slows it down on a few tracks as well, most notably on the crawling and trippy "Bleed it Dry". Right up there with "Stranger in the Window" as album highlight is "Amongst the Vultures", one of the disc's nastiest and most convincing stabs through the heart, featuring standout line, "everyone's got a little vulture inside."

The sound mix, while basically well suited to the act's stripped down style, could stand to be louder and fuller. It is not that the coarse guitar tone and bare-bones rhythm section sound are a problem, but more like the unit's power potential has been suppressed. I always felt like I wanted to keep turning it up to bring out the instruments. It is not a huge problem though, more like a slight irritation.

In the end "Don't Trust Nobody" is a solid slab of sledgehammer crust and NOLA sickness. It just seems to be missing that certain something that would have made it a standout out amongst its peers. I always caught myself getting a little tired of it halfway through. Yes, it's heavy and pissed off. It just doesn't leave the kind of lasting impression I would have expected.

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