Mental health is a space that noise-rock-orientated artists often swerve. Few have illuminated this topic like Chat Pile. Often castigated as masculine at best, toxic at worst, while certain aspects of the noise-rock scene are perhaps true, with their debut long-player, Chat Pile open the floor for a conversation with their roaring debut album, God’s Country.
The Oklahoma City four-piece (vocalist, Raygun Busch; guitarist, Luther Manhole; bassist, Sin; and drummer, Captain Ron) don’t achieve this my moping around the house word-vomiting their ‘reality’ like some insufferable bedroom pop trope who preaches social awareness yet possess fuck all of their own.
No, Chat Pile use black holes as inspiration to reach their point. Outlets to exacerbate their anger by utilising a merry band of life-damaged protagonists. Drug addicts, murderers, drifters and outliers alike. Ghost towns now likened to flea pits inhabited by life’s dregs deemed useless in a capitalist society. The kind of characters that underline society’s decay.
Busch’s bloodied diatribes are curled with hate and backed by bulldozer drumming and dishevelled harmonics inspired by noise-rock and post-hardcore luminaries. And Godflesh. Always Godflesh. However, both in sound and message, Chat Pile aren’t pastiche. To use the very word is almost a disservice to the band. Everything is refined, but instead of spit and polish, Chat Pile employ a serrated knife.
“In the eyes of God/ Always watching,” snarls Busch on opening track, Slaughterhouse. Noise-rock has always possessed a humorous side and once again Busch takes the piss whilst highlighting the atrocities of the meat industry.
And it continues on Why. A rag-and-bone sequence of pure dissonance, Busch’s stirring harangue questions why a country said to boast one of the strongest economic frameworks still operates as something akin to a third world country. “Why do people have to live outside?” and “It’s a fucking tragedy” he screams in blood curdling fashion.
Pamela follows and is like a post-punk puzzle The Sister of Mercy or Band of Susans couldn’t unravel. Why? The themes dystopian, sordid and the stuff of a serial killer series on Netflix. And it continues later with I Don’t Care If I Burn. A spoken-word tale of unhealthy obsessions and fatal fantasies.
Then there’s Wicked Puppet Dance, which plays out like a chapter from a Max Allan Collins novel. Taking its cue from Head of David’s Bugged, at the right volume it could even be cast as David Yow belting it out in a karaoke bar.
If Anywhere isn’t a direct fuck you to the NRA then I don’t know what is. “It’s the sound of a fucking gun/ It’s the sound of your world collapsing,” drawls Busch. While a plethora of artists choose to virtue signal about the United States’ ridiculous laws surrounding firearms, Chat Pile nonchalantly tell it like it is. Yes, it is fucked. As is the anxiety-riddled blast that is The Mask – another torrid tale highlighting the pitfalls of a robbery gone wrong.
And speaking of wrong, Grimace_Smoking_Weed.jpeg is just downright scary. Inspired by the McDonald’s mascot who quietly hid behind Ronald and the Hamburgler, while Chat Pile mockingly suggest that “drugs are bad”, Busch’s delivery is so frightening that you can’t help but feel a metaphor within the paranoia that transcends above its intended target.
It’s a perfect ending to God’s Country. An album that illuminates the brutal emptiness of society’s maligned and disregarded. The desperation. The mental struggle. There’s always talk of peace, and while sometimes we think it’s closer, listening to a band like Chat Pile brings it all back home. We’re not. If anything, we’ve never been further away. The characters Chat Pile bring to life here aren’t conceived from the roots of hell. Sadly, they are a reality.
Like a discarded cigarette, Chat Pile’s realistic notions grind idealism into the dirt. It’s the wakeup call most of us needed, and alongside Kal Marks, noise-rock enters a new important phase of breaking down the boundaries in a bid to stop the rot. Chat Pile are front and centre of this shift, and God’s Country is evidence of that.
God’s Country is out now via The Flenser. Purchase from Bandcamp.