Tad is probably the heaviest band to come out of the Seattle "grunge" movement. They sound like Helmet, if Page Hamilton was the Swamp Thing. This shit is seriously heavy. Inhaler was their major label debut, and while it's somewhat catchy, it's not commercialized in the slightest. They had a minor hit with "Grease Box," the album's leadoff track, but these flannel-clad lumberjacks never attained mainstream success. Honestly, it surprises me that Tad is so obscure. Helmet and Prong were breaking around the same time, and those are certainly heavy bands. I suppose it was a case of Tad not having a "buzz clip" on MTV. In any event, Inhaler is a rock solid record from top to bottom.

Let me talk about "Grease Box" for a minute. It was the first Tad song I heard. Strangely enough, I discovered it through Brainscan, a quizzical sci-fi/horror hybrid that starred Edward Furlong. It's a cool flick with a cool soundtrack. The opening thump of Tad's rhythm section lets you know that this band is possessed...by groove! God, I apologize for that sentence. It's been a long day. Um, "Throat Locust" keeps the momentum going with a meaty riff that would sound right at home on Helmet's Meantime.

"Leafy Incline" is a bucolic, radio-ready tune that seems to have been crafted for radio stations that were not Tad-ready. It's not terrible, but it's one of the weaker tracks on display. "Luminol" is a dynamic thunderclap that switches from beer-battered riffage to acoustic guitars and even a touch of piano. "Ulcer" has a menacing vibe to it. Again, we hear high-energy dynamics, which is sorely lacking from modern hard rock. "Lycanthrope" follows with a liberal dose of uncurbed swagger. In other words, it has balls. Big fucking balls and big fucking riffs. It's hard not to use the word "riff" in every other sentence when you're reviewing a Tad album. The riffs are so...riffy.

I'm skipping ahead to "Paregoric" and "Pansy." Not because the other songs are mediocre, but because "Paregoric" and "Pansy" KILL! "Pansy," in particular, comes close to being a metal concussion. Both tracks are riff-driven spine-splitters that benefit from warm production. Speaking of which, Inhaler was produced by the almighty J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. fame. He knows what a guitar should sound like. He also understands the importance of the bottom end. I can only imagine how monstrous this son of a bitch sounds on vinyl. Inhaler ends with "Gouge," another laid-back number. This one is more palatable than "Leafy Incline," and I hope that it was released as a single.

The other Tad records are hard to find, even on the Internet. If you see one floating around, nab it without any hesitation. If you think that "Slaves and Bulldozers" is one of Soundgarden's best songs, Tad is the band for you. If you worship Kirk Windstein, Tad is the band for you. If this paragraph sounds like it was written by Jeff Foxworthy, go fuck yourself. And also, Tad is the band for you.

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