Archers Of Loaf - Icky Mettle (Deluxe Edition)

With the relatively recent reformation of Pavement and Guided By Voices, what better time to revisit perhaps one of the lesser known and probably best lo-fi indie acts that was. With Archers Of Loaf getting back together in 2010 and having played some shows earlier this year, Fire Records are going to be reissuing all of the bands albums, and their debut Icky Mettle is the first to get the treatment.

Originally released in 1993, the album has now been remastered by sound extraordinaire Bob Weston, and quite frankly sounds clearer and punchier than ever. As soon as ‘Web In Front’ kicks in, the first noticeable improvement is the clarity and force of the drums, emphasising just how tight Mark Price is behind the kit. ‘Last Word’ shows a more malevolent streak running through their sound than that of their more chirpy peers, and the dark and intricate melodies that drive it along are satisfyingly screeching. On ‘You And Me’ the gloomy bass line and Eric Bachmann’s hushed vocal give a sense of some impending chaos before distorted guitar noise takes things in a slightly aggressive direction.

The latter half of the album doesn’t dip in quality either, with the unhinged, angular guitars making ‘Learo, You’re A Hole’ sound quite tormented at times. Fan-favourite ‘Toast’ builds and broods through feedback and off-kilter riffing before slowing down and Eric starts to scream that there is “something wrong” with his favourite breakfast meal. ‘Backwash’ thrashes and screams like the best of them, before ‘Slow Worm’ creeps in with enormous chords mutated melodies to close out the album.

What fans are probably going to be really salivating for is the second disc of bonus material. Compiling the fantastically angry Vs. The Greatest Of All Time EP, featuring the truly rocking ‘Audiowhore’, as well as various B-sides and a compilation track, this gives a brilliant snapshot of the band at the time of Icky Mettle’s release. Fire have done a fantastic job with the packaging too, making this a very late contender for reissue of the year.



out of 10

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