No, this review doesn't have anything to do with horror films or professional wrestling. The title of Drain S.T.H.'s debut album is merely coincidental. Known as Drain in their native Sweden, this band answers the question, "What if Alice in Chains was comprised of hot blonde chicks?" I don't know why it took me so long to discover these grunge goddesses, but I'm glad that I did. A brief history lesson...Horror Wrestling was released in 1996. The follow-up, 1999's pop-inclined Freaks of Nature, failed to make a splash in North America, and Drain S.T.H. would disband shortly thereafter. Damn.
I'm not crazy about Freaks of Nature. It's too sterile for my liking (drum loops don't belong on hard rock records). But this; this is meaty. Musically, Horror Wrestling rounds up the best elements of Crowbar, Gruntruck and of course, Alice in Chains. I say "of course" because it's apparent that the members of Drain S.T.H. listened to Dirt on repeat while they were in the studio. They utilize the same muddy harmonies and sludge-smutched riffs that Alice made famous. If you're like me, that's a good thing. I grew up with this kind of music, so I'm immune to the fact that songs such as "Smile" and "Unforgiving Hours" are somewhat derivative.
In my opinion, you don't have to be original if your tunes kick ass. Guess what? These tunes kick ass. The guitar tone is brutal, the vocal melodies are infectious (I hate that word, but it's undeniably apropos) and the production is...humid? It sounds like Horror Wrestling was recorded in a stuffy, claustrophobic room. That's a compliment, by the way. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that this album is (mother)fucking heavy. One could argue that the mixing is uneven, but that's a flaw that I'm willing to overlook.
The vocals are hard to describe. Maria Sjoholm - wife of Tony Iommi (lucky bastard) - isn't the most technically gifted singer in the world, but she has the perfect voice for this band. She doesn't need a multi-octave range. That's what I dig about her (well, that and her curves). Every other band from this time period has reunited, so I'm crossing my fingers for Drain S.T.H. to get back together. I mean, why not? These tracks are begging to be played live again. Watch the video below to see what I mean.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 7:59 PM