What I keep trying to figure out is if and how one can tell from Gurt’s music alone that they have a pretty prominent sense of humor. If you look at the song titles and cover art from their upcoming LP Horrendosaurus, you’d know quickly:
But what if you heard the music first? Personally, I can’t say, because I just didn’t experience it in that order. But I think it’s a good question to consider. I mean, we’re talking about sludge metal here. The first two bands I think of when I think of sludge are Down and Kylesa. And I think that’s a pretty good sample set, Down being the foremost progenitors, and Kylesa being, as far as I’m concerned, the leaders of the sludge pack for the last 5 or so years. And Down and Kylesa are two of the least humorous bands I can think of. This is not to say that their music is the opposite of funny – it’s not entirely dour, it’s not entirely depressing – but neither band would dream of naming a song something like “Hoboreaper” or, to use a different example, “Octopus Has No Friends”.
I think that the answer lies somewhere in the fact that a genre like sludge metal has its own set of standards as to what exactly indicates a sense of humor. And the best way to approach this is to draw a distinction between having a sense of humor and being funny. Frank Zappa can be funny. The Dead Milkmen can be funny. And of course there are other examples, and typically they are funny because they have some silly slide whistle, or lyrics that make you laugh. Well, you can’t really make out most of Gurt’s lyrics, and aside from a slightly quirky start to “Eve’s Droppings,” the music is what you’d expect: huge guitars, crushing drums, plodding tempos. No funny stuff.
So no, Gurt’s music isn’t in and of itself funny (nor would we really want it to be), but their sense of humor comes in the fact – which can be gleaned directly from their music – that they simply don’t take themselves too seriously. Going back to my poster children, Down bears the constant conviction that Phil Anselmo’s anger, values, and pot worship are the most important things in the world, while Kylesa has some continuous, borderline-pretentious commitment to artistic introspection that excludes the possibility of anything more candid, or less earnest. And don’t get me wrong, I love both of these bands, and I do appreciate the fact that they are fully committed to their own ways of doing things, but the truth is that their seriousness can be restrictive. It makes what they do great, but perhaps prevents them from trying other things.
Horrendosaurus, on the other hand, benefits hugely from its underlying humor, and the result is an album that revels in dank riffs and unexpected turns, without having to chain itself to some bigger, deeper vision. The album starts with a clear enough message (abandon all hope, ye who enter here), but the Hell that it drags us down into is not neatly ordered.
It’s not like this:
It’s not even like this:
It’s more like this:
Pure fucking insanity.