James Woodard of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy brings the noise.
San Antonio avant-metal trio The Grasshopper Lies Heavy may not have played many live shows during the pandemic, but the band has certainly been prolific. Beyond prolific, in fact.
Early next month, Grasshopper will drop its third release in 10 months: Various Plants and Animals Under Domestication, a split album with sludgy Louisiana outfit WOORMS. The new release, available for preorder on Forbidden Place Records, features four roaring new Grasshopper tracks plus a 23-minute WOORMS epic.
The new album follows an eight-song Grasshopper LP, A Cult That Worships a God of Death, released in July, and the band's April download-only single featuring singer Crow Lotus of metallic hardcore act Capra.
The WOORMS split came about after a member of that band asked Grasshopper vocalist-guitarist-bandleader James Woodard if he'd be up for a collaborative recording project.
"Those dudes have been making cool strides and just signed with Supernova Records (Steve Austin from Today Is The Day’s record label), so it was an easy choice," Woodard said in an online exchange with the Current. "Since we just blew our load with new material with the new album, I kinda hunkered down on my own and wrote a bunch of music myself during the most locked-down part of lockdown."
Woodard composed the new songs with software drums, then emailed the recordings to percussionist Steven Barrera. After getting a feel for the material, Barrera would swing by the band's rehearsal space to retrack the parts.
"[The] process was, like, super quick," Woodard said. "When we started practicing as a band again, we kind of had to re-learn these songs as a functional band, not as a recording project."
The resulting tunes are in line with Grasshopper's approach on the Cult album. Which is to say, they mix bludgeoning, off-kilter riffs that would sound at home on a Melvins album with more delicate passages that evoke the Krautrock experimentalism of the '70s.
The mix is best displayed on the split's lead-off track "Indifference Apocalypse," for which Grasshopper recently dropped a video, and on the closer "Unending Mediocrity," where delicate, lulling guitar work builds into a gloomy soundscape evoking Scandinavian post-metal adventurers such as Ulver and Solstafir.