Guzzlemug- Nervously Counting Rosary Beads

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Guzzlemug’s Nervously Counting Rosary Beads is pretty out there, and this is coming from someone that has listened to plenty of weird music. The Chicago group released this effort late last year and it consists of a single twenty nine and a half minute track that switches between genres on a regular basis while offering an avant-garde flair throughout. This is one of those releases that won’t appeal to every listener, but if you’re interested in a challenging, adventurous piece of material that skews a bit towards the heavier side it’s well worth seeking out.

Rather than starting off with some type of instrumental build-up like a lot of groups do, Guzzlemug starts things off with vocals and makes it clear they’re not going to be predictable in any way, shape, or fashion. These earlier vocal arrangements are very light and have a bit of a stage show feel about them, which is certainly not what you would expect. As the vocals fade out some spaced out riffing takes over, moving about in a slow fashion that immediately brings Sunn O))) to mind with its heavier tonality. But Nervously Counting Rosary Beads isn’t a full-on drone album, changing styles several more times before the piece reaches its conclusion. There’s some off-kilter Melvins style noise rock, crushingly heavy sludge, and even adventurous prog rock sections that reminded me a bit of King Crimson and even a little free jazz. It’s a lot to take in all at once and demands that you remain focused and ready to see just what the group has to offer next, but what stands out the most is how well everything fits together. Guzzlemug doesn’t have a single idea that sounds out of place and each of the ideas flows right into the next, all while maintaining a weird and unpredictable feel. The vocals span just as many influences as the instrumentals, as aside from the aforementioned cleaner pitches there are distorted screams that display some metal influence. One other thing that’s worth noting is that for all the technical changeups and flashy sections, this group seems to understand that technicality doesn’t mean much if you don’t have memorable ideas to back it up.

Nervously Counting Rosary Beads is one of those albums that’s a bit hard to describe, and a lot easier to just experience if you’re willing to dive right in. It feels like an avant-garde prog rock piece with a good deal of sludge and other metal influences thrown in, all mixed together with genuine weirdness. If any of that description sounds like something you’d enjoy listening to, then I can definitely recommend Guzzlemug as they have elements of other groups but never sound exactly like any particular one. Apparently there’s another album/EP that was released only a few months after this one, and if it continues this same type of off the wall experimentation and technical showmanship I’ll have to see if I can track it down.

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