Metal is supposed to be brutal, and Porn (The Men Of) understands this. But when it’s also experimental, that’s when things get really hairy. For the Bay Area band’s latest Small Stone offering, lead Porner Tim Moss is joined by bassist/producer Billy Armstrong and Melvins drummer Dale Crover for a journey through proto-Sabbath sludge, intellectual stoner rock (yep) and bewildering musical gray matter. Its midsection consists of concise tracks built from bottom-feeding bass, trudging riffs and Moss’ coarse, atonal vocals. But Wine, Women and Song’s real draw are three 10-minute-plus set pieces that twist the metal brainstem in exciting, dangerous directions. They act as platforms for Moss’ array of guitar effects, but never count out the rhythm section’s absolutely manic force. At one point a pedal steel peels into earshot, wandering meditatively over gentle percussion. But it’s only a lull, a rest stop on the way to a thrash of tortured vocal and double-time precision drumming from Crover. The nearly 12-minute opener “Succulento” is another highlight, ripping between a galloping lead section and detours into frightening feedback genius. There’s just no escape. Wine, Women and Song is a heavy metal tractor beam, and it’s sucking dark thoughts right out of your head.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].