"Fear In a Handful of Dust"

(Season of Mist)

01. Burning the Unspoken Gospel
02. Cult Malevolence
03. Ivory Shavings of the Tools Unknown
04. Black Wool
05. Watch as They Worship, Yet Be Silent
06. Slowly Fucked and Force Fed
07. A Howling Wind
08. Human All Too Human
09. Bound and Bent
10. Toothless and Yawning
11. Tower of Meth

RATING: 7/10

Well, it's not a reinterpretation of HURTLOCKER's "Fear in a Handful of Dust", nor is it of the same musical style, but the violence levels are similar, which is the only comparison of relevance in an otherwise completely irrelevant comparison. For that matter the violence dealt on the full-length debut album from Portland's ELITIST is for more random and unpredictable, not unlike the crackhead robber that shoots his victim in the head even after the poor bastard willingly hands over his wallet.

The death metal references you may have read aren't all that relevant to "Fear in a Handful of Dust", though there are strains present, but even the short, mostly up-tempo shrapnel blasts of "Black Wool" and "Bound and Bent" have more in common with psychotic, ground up variations of d-beat and powerviolence. More than anything "Fear in a Handful of Dust" is hateful sludge with direct narco-lines to EYEHATEGOD and with scathing flourishes and shredded-throat vocals that recall the frightening work of CLINGING TO THE TREES OF A FOREST FIRE. One spin just isn't enough to appreciate the completeness of the assault, as one will hear some pretty damn righteous NOLA riffing, even the occasional CROWBAR-ism, on tracks like "Cult Malevolence" and "Burning the Unspoken Gospel". The former also includes a bout of GOATWHORE razor-swirl, as do "A Howling Wind" and "Toothless and Yawning", both of which are among a handful that clock in at less than two minutes, making the experience that much more jolting. The oddest moment occurs during "Ivory Shavings of the Tools Unknown" where you'll detect some honest to goodness mournful melody, at least in relative dread-spreading terms.

Add in a wicked riff tone and tracks of pure aural sadism, no matter the speed, in "Slowly Fucked and Force Fed", "Human All too Human", and the pockmarked ugliness of finale "Tower of Meth" (a more apt title does not exist) and you get an album of scrape 'n gash terror that moves over only to make room for a nightmare scenario of slow-motion belt-sanding. It is no watershed release and there are albums with longer-lasting appeal, but few that will leave listeners in any more of a disoriented state than "Fear in a Handful of Dust".


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