There’s a reason side projects exist.
It’s to give people a chance to explore areas of music that mightn’t be available to them in their main bands.
And so JR Hayes, the man known to many for fronting Pig Destroyer, takes a step back and indulges in his post punk / alternative rock influences.
On the go since 2015, this is Virginia Creep’s second EP.
First thing that you notice is the artwork, which is very cool. It kind of reminds me of Daniel Clowes, due to the colour scheme and the deliberately cartoonish looking demon.
And this imagery is a perfect fit for the music.
Beginning with tribal drumming, ‘Jean of Arlington’ betrays a Jesus Lizard influence in terms of it’s riffS and Hayes’ vocals.
No bad thing at all of course, which makes for an exciting racket. The flange sections adds a tinge of psychedelia, and the slow build up as the track ends is an exercise in restraint equalling power.
Lyrically, it’s incredibly creepy, as it talks about the title character sitting alone with “her book full of sketches of/the secret constellation… I should’ve dragged you down with me / theatre of sin / stop showing what could’ve been.”
You envisage her as a gatekeeper of some other dimension, with the narrator being a kind of Beetlejuice type who wants to drag her into the dimension so he can claim it for himself.
‘Sinister Muse’, for some reason, feels like a Godflesh song with the distortion removed. This is down to the primitive drum patters, a solid bass riff, angular guitar lines and vocals that are yearning for something better. The post rock middle eight adds an extra layer of melancholy and wonder to the track.
‘Lucas’ has an apocalyptic NoMeansNo feel to it, due to the vastness of the riffing, post rock pacing and the insistent, throbbing bass.
All of this fits the lyrics, which are a tribute to a friend who “…lived your roles/from the dojo/to the submarine…you were like a brother to me.” The longing, reflective vocals add greater poignancy to the message.
With a new Pig Destroyer album due later this year, Virginia Creep will have to be put on the backburner for the time being. But keep an eye out for the name in future. There’s potential here for a killer album.
3.5 / 5 –Christopher Owens ::: 23/07/18