Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. This week, we go back to Japan, by way of New Orleans, for Greenmachine’s D.A.M.N. (Man’s Ruin).
Last time I tackled sludge in this column, it was Grief’s Come to Grief, a slow, turgid, unpleasant mess of an album. Greenmachine don’t produce that kind of sludge. It’s undeniable goop, heavy and nasty like Black Sabbath on acid, but these Japanese psychos kick like a mule (do they have mules in Japan? I mean, I assume they do, but hell if I know). Over the course of D.A.M.N.‘s 22 minutes (an additional 14 with the bonus tracks on the Man’s Ruin edition), they lay waste to everyone and everything, from their instruments to their throats, attacking with a zest usually reserved for death metal dudes.
Monzawa, their enigmatic vocalist, probably has no voice left by now – or at least, he wouldn’t if their existence hadn’t been so relatively brief. I suspect that, even if you can understand Japanese, you’d still have trouble understanding what the hell he’s screaming. I mean, he gets distortion off of his howls – and considering how much distortion is going on elsewhere, that’s pretty impressive. It seems unlikely that amplifiers were meant to be abused in this fashion, and while Greenmachine maybe weren’t blowing more speakers than Buzzov*en, it’s probably neck and neck.
Hell, it’s hard to tell when one song ends and the other begins, even more so because the Man’s Ruin edition puts all six songs on one CD track. So I’m not sure which section of the assault is “Red Eye” and which section is “Cunt Maniac,” but both of them slam pretty hard. There are some pretty rad grooves and solos buried under all the feedback, so if you don’t mind animalistic shrieks, there’s plenty to get into over the brief runtime. Apparently it took them three days to record the main body of the album, but it feels like a one-and-done job. The bonus tracks took only one day to record, and that I do believe.
After this 1997 effort, Greenmachine knocked out a sequel, then broke up for a few years, reconvened for a reunion record in 2003, and then broke up again. Even the most successful sludge acts don’t get to do that there deserved, so it’s not really surprising that a Japanese purveyor of the sound, on a label that infamously imploded, would be so unsung. Hell, they don’t even have a website as far as I can find. So if you can grab a copy of this, do so, especially if you’re interested in hearing 22 minutes that make Boris look tame by comparison.