Dusted Reviews

The Flesh Eaters - Hard Road To Follow

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: The Flesh Eaters

Album: Hard Road To Follow

Label: Atavistic

Review date: Mar. 10, 2005

Chris D. was on the L.A. punk scene from the very start. Though his band the Flesh Eaters didn't start recording albums until the ’80s, their sound fit with the first wave out of Hollywood. Like the Germs, the writing was abstract, annoyed and shambling. Like the Gun Club, music could break into a big sky openness. Like X, they rolled those beatnik and cowboy tendencies together, and forced in boy-girl vocals that harmonized only accidentally.

As the Flesh Eaters moved through the American underground scene, their arty side didn't jibe with the suburban thrash skating behind Black Flag. It was too gnarled to get lumped with Rank & File and the emerging roots rock circuit. Out of place on a hardcore matinée, a bar crowd looking for twangy sincerity was likely to find them harsh.

So their fourth album was appropriately titled A Hard Road to Follow. They didn't follow it up. Twenty-two years later, it still hits hard. Chris D. sounds like he's trying to scream and croon at the same time, and there are places where he actually accomplishes this feat, on anti-hooks like “The good die young / before the bloody badge starts / showing those marked for going.” That lyric is listed as the chorus. You should hear the verse.

The backing is driven by Don Kirk's guitar rhythms. He's metallic in spots – very odd spots – like on a cover of “Sam & Dave.” Mostly though, he plows though punk chords, dressing them with early rock and roll flourishes. This was a hot bunch of musicians, not showoffs, but not content to keep it simple, either. Their songs are as busy as they are blunt, and it takes a while for the logic to reveal itself. Chris D produced, too, often doubling his vocals. The sound is swampy and anxious to frighten even it's most conventional moments. Friendly bass lines keep surfacing, only to get obliterated by a storm of snarling voices and guitars and snare hits.

The Flesh Eaters might have benefited from a producer who could have given some perspective on their claustrophobic sound. This reissue hints at what an outside hand might have accomplished – it includes five extra tracks that are just as strong as the original album. Again, Chris D produced them, but they have a different texture, presumably because they're from different sessions, and a different mind-set. Two songs are “covers” of earlier Flesh Eaters tracks, and the speedy tempos and simple structure shine when this road-tested band reworks them. And the seven minutes of throbbing beat and sax screeches that make up “Lake of Fire” would have been an impressive closer.

This release is closed with another long song, a live take of “Divine Horsemen” that grinds with toms rumbling under a stop-start riff. It's a crazed dirge that would have fit in a set by Killdozer or the Butthole Surfers a few years later. Chris D. took the title as the name of his next band, but compared to the Flesh Eaters, the Divine Horsemen were tame, nearly radio-friendly, and certainly less interesting. A Hard Road to Follow documents a band pushing themselves past their breaking point.

By Ben Donnelly

Read More

View all articles by Ben Donnelly

Find out more about Atavistic

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.