Thursday, January 19, 2012

Iron Balls of Steel: Steve Shelton returns

Here is my Pitchfork review of the new Loincloth LP. As you'll read in the piece, I never thought I'd type "Loincloth" and "LP" in the same vicinity.

As silly as it might sound given their name, this band means a lot to me. DFSBP readers familiar with the Math? Rock! mixtape might recall a passing mention of Loincloth in the entry for the band Confessor (No. 14). The two bands share a rhythm section—most prominently a drummer, Steve Shelton, whom I believe to be one of the 20 or so most inspired/inspiring drum-set performers of all time, in any genre. In terms of any kind of technical metal (if pressed, I'd label Shelton's microscopic niche "progressive doom"), there's no competition as far as I'm concerned, and one of the reasons this new Loincloth record feels like such a landmark is that prior to its release, you could only hear Shelton on three full-length recordings (a scant number considering that the man has been active in music since at least the late ’80s): two Confessor LPs (1991's Condemned is desert-island material for me, but 2005's Unraveled is also strong) and one very obscure, and not entirely satisfying, album by the spin-off band Fly Machine.

Iron Balls is a stunning addition to this tiny collection. Not only is it downright wizardly from a technical standpoint (and I'm not just talking about the drums here), as I discuss in the review, it packs way more of an emotional punch than I'd ever expected. I strongly urge you to listen to the record in full at Pitchfork and to buy a copy from the Southern Lord store (I couldn't resist the T-shirt plus LP deal).

In the meantime, here are a few choice Steve Shelton performances:

"The Stain" (Condemned, 1991)

"Alone" (from the highly recommend 2006 DVD Live in Norway)

"Hibernation" (Unraveled, 2005)

Instructional segment re: the title track to "Condemned" (bonus feature on Live in Norway)

P.S. Was going to excerpt Loincloth's original four-song demo here, but there are no decent-quality YouTube streams. As far as I know, the release isn't available in any official capacity, but you should have no trouble turning it up online.

P.P.S. Shelton sounds absolutely beastly in this early Confessor clip.

P.P.P.S. Here's a new, very comprehensive interview with the members of Loincloth.

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