With a name like Gutbucket, it's probably safe to assume that a group isn't going to be playing things safe and simple. Add to that a debut album with the title Dry Humping The American Dream and it quickly becomes apparent that the group is at the very least trying to knock the piss out of any conventional standards one might have for them. Showing no signs of backing off, Gutbucket is back with Sludge Test, another juicy batch of songs that swirl together hardcore rock, funk, skronky free jazz, and loads of direction changes into a head-spinning maelstrom of sound.
Although the rhythm section of Gutbucket is certainly solid, it's the duo of Ken Thompson (saxophone) and Ty Citerman (guitar) that really drive the quartet, sometimes doubling each other up when they need more power and at other times curling around and playing off one another like dueling gunslingers. "Money Management For A Better Life" opens the disc with all of the above on display as the group flows through a wizards array of complex time signature changes and Citerman rips through some scorching guitar passages.
From there, the group is pretty much all over the map as the album-titled "Sludge Test" appropriately takes things down a notch in terms of tempo as the four slug things out down low while "Punkass Rumbledink" finds Thompson switching between wurlitzer and saxophone as the track moves between playful and pummeling. Because of their instrumentation, Gutbucket at times reminds me of the late, great alto-sax rockin' Sweep The Leg Johnny, who powered along with heavy guitars and guttural reed squeals in similar ways, but Gutbucket plays things a little more fast and loose, relying on scads of time signature changes rather than playing out slow-burning moody dynamics.
As with most releases that are largely mathy in their construction, the work of Gutbucket wows me at first due to the rather virtuoso instrument playing (especially the pinpoint playing of Thompson) that's required to pull of such feats, but upon repeat listens, the work doesn't have enough of an emotional attachment to keep me involved. In a weird way, the smash n grab (and forget it) construction of their songs has a lot in common with our hyper-saturated culture as a whole. This will certainly wow some listeners, and it's certainly mindbending in places, but Sludge Test just isn't something that has stuck with me.