Return of a lost sludgepunk opus
Among doom-metal bands, Harvey Milk is Squirrel Bait, the undersung journeymen revered by their peers and overlooked by the scene’s Sunday drivers. They were the first and scruffiest in an indie-metal lane now densely populated with enlightened plodders like Isis, Pelican, Torche and Kylesa.
After breaking up in 1998 and reuniting in 2006, the band’s early years as mutant noisemakers in R.E.M.’s Athens were obscured, at least until now. Hydra Head’s thoughtful rediscovery of the famed 1994 Bob Weston Sessions (Shellac were notable tourmates) finds the band in crackling primitive form. While this early work lacks the sheer violent width of the band’s more accomplished cousins The Melvins, its experimental energy is hard to miss, particularly on crushing excursions like the aptly named “Anthem.”