The music on Ty Segall’s Slaughterhouse is compelling in the same way too much whiskey is: it riles up your appetite for getting loud and rowdy. This isn’t an album for folding laundry or grilling zucchini; it’s a soundtrack for driving too fast and throwing furniture out windows.
Released through garage-rock emporium In the Red under the moniker Ty Segall Band, the album is the San Francisco musician’s first studio release recorded with his touring ensemble. In interviews Segall described the project as an attempt to make a “really heavy record” filled with “evil, evil space rock.” And for the the most part, he succeeds (just look at that cover art!). With band members Mikal Cronin, Charlie Moothart, and Emily Rose Epstein helping to fill out the sound, Slaughterhouse is the thickest, most abrasive record of Segall’s short, prolific career. The strung-out John Lennon vibe that defined previous efforts Melted and Goodbye Bread is largely absent here. Instead, we get a more percussive approach where blown-out guitars and chunky riffs form the backbone of each song.
The first single off the album, “Wave Goodbye,” starts with a chugging bass line reminiscent of Black Sabbath before Segall’s bratty distorted vocals kick in and the whole track lurches into a crunchy satanic dirge. The song ends with a blistering double guitar solo that really showcases the band’s ability to cram some personality into what could be a generic outro—evil space rock indeed. While no other track gets quite as heavy, much of the album follows suit. The opener “Death” begins with a full minute of squall and feedback before shifting gears into a raw, Stooges-inspired rocker complete with distorted rhythm guitar and guitar trills. Overall, much of the album shares this manic, angry, and focused vigor—if you’re not prepared to meet Segall up at this energy level, you might be better off reaching for something else from his catalog.
At no point does Slaughterhouse really cross over into the slack jangle of his previous work, and this is the most obvious opening for complaint. The songs feel dense and compact to the point that a slower or stripped down number would be appreciated just for variety’s sake. Aside from short offerings like slinky “That’s The Bag I’m In” and the lo-fi leaning title track—both of which let things loosen up with more unhinged playing and more fluid melody—there isn’t a lot of space between the riffs. By the time you reach the final track, a completely unstructured exercise in feedback called “Fuzz War,” the ten minutes of hum, buzz, and scattered snare are a welcome release. It’s almost as if the band took all the warped sonic flourishes you’d find on a typical Ty Segall album and tacked them onto the end. The standout track “I Bought My Eyes” manages to combine both these impulses with a driving energy, roguish vocal melody, a squiggly guitar solo that derails everything in a delightful way.
Taken as a whole the album is great slab of rock and roll music. Segall and his band are clearly capable of writing songs filled with both immediacy and ideas, matching crushing momentum with a slightly off-kilter trajectory. The few times when the songs threaten to go off the rails is when the band creates its most satisfying tension. The album could benefit from a few more of these moments. Still, it’s fantastic to hear someone working within the garage-rock mold while still managing to create a sound this distinct.