Groundbreakers: Acid Bath – When The Kite String Pops

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The music that comes out of the bayou in New Orleans, Louisiana is a reflection of the hot swampy environment and voodoo culture that permeates the air. If you are familiar with Noisey’s 7 part documentary on the metal scene in that area then you got a peek into some of the scene’s most prominent and influential bands. But there was one glaring omission in that piece, and it was right there in plain sight.

Everything about Acid Bath’s When The Kite String Pops is down right schizophrenic. From serial killer John Wayne Gacey’s portrait of Pogo The Clown album cover to the vast array of musical styles to the eerie lyrics that are delivered using tortured screams and some soulful gothic crooning, it is clear that this record is the result of five individuals and all their musical backgrounds thrown into a blender, stirred up, and served on a corroded hot plate for your consumption. Albums like this aren’t planned; they are the result of these five guys in a room jamming their hearts and souls out. They made this album for themselves before they made it for anybody else.

When I involuntarily volunteered to take on the task of writing about WTKSP for Groundbreakers, I faced numerous questions – What bands of today were influenced by them? How is what they did ground breaking? These questions are about as perplexing as Acid Bath’s music. In order to better grasp what this album represented, you must put it in a time capsule and discuss it in its historical context.

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The year was 1994 and Rotten Records released Acid Bath’s When The Kite String Pops into the metalsphere for eager listeners. To give some perspective on what was popular that year, here are some albums released around the same time; click here for an expanded list:

  • Alice In Chains – Jar of Flies
  • Cannibal Corpse – The Bleeding
  • Dark Throne – Transilvanian Hunger
  • Kyuss – Welcome to Sky Valley
  • Machine Head – Burn My Eyes
  • Pantera – Far Beyond Driven
  • Obituary – World Demise

All of the above were great albums for these artists, but it speaks to the musical trends of that time in heavy metal’s history. These artists and their albums all stylistically can more or less be filed under one sub genre of metal (i.e. grunge, death metal, black metal, stoner rock, groove metal, etc.), and that’s why WTKSP is so unique. At the time of its release, it was casting a wide net across the metal spectrum and engulfing multiple sub genres within it.

As someone who was around at the time of its release, I’m guilty of skipping over this album because I was an impressionable young man and 18-year-old me took record reviews as gospel. I remember specifically reading a review of WTKSP in Metal Maniacs magazine which I bought monthly like a good little metalhead nerd should. The review basically proclaimed that the album was all over the place and was too long. It asked “what is this band doing?”, “what are they trying to achieve?”, “who is their target audience?”. Having read that, I was unwilling to throw down $15 of my hard earned cash on a CD that I might have had trouble following even though I had already heard and enjoyed the track “Tranquilized”.  Not having the benefit of the internet and not having a friend who owned the album so I could check it out caused me to pass on it. So what does that tell you? First, the reviewer from Metal Maniacs was a narrow minded dildo who assumed his audience would only enjoy a band playing a specific style of metal at this time, so he discarded WTKSP and continued on in his search to bring you the next Reign In Blood. The second thing it tells you is that when you look at it in retrospect, it was ahead of its time. Acid Bath was combining sludge, doom, stoner rock, death metal, punk, and thrash in a volatile powder keg that exploded in your face once it was lit. Those kind of practices are commonplace in today’s vast sea of music, but again there was little to none of this happening in 1994. Thus the reaction in the picture below from many who listened to it at the time:

he-is-clueless_fb_2432401

Pic of the guy who reviewed When The Kite String Pops                                

That said WTKSP, is a wild roller coaster ride of an album that is still fresh, innovative, and new to this day despite being almost 21 years old. This album can almost pull up a chair at the local bar and order itself a drink. But you don’t have to be of legal drinking age to enjoy this album. Acid Bath is your bartender for WTKSP. But he doesn’t have a license and is daring you to drink the various cocktails that he’s mixing. The ingredients for these elixirs were Jimmy Kyle’s drumming which adapted to the many tempo changes and shifts within the bands music. The guitar playing of Sammy Duet and Mike Sanchez tag teamed riffs ranging from stoner rock, doom, punk, death metal, sludge,thrash, and even folk on some the band’s more somber compositions. The bass playing of Audie Pitre (R.I.P.) provided the backbone and foundation to back up all the guitar and drums. A listener will find experimentation with such effects as flange and distortion throughout the album when the bass takes center stage in any song. Then the bartender adds the maraschino cherry to your drink in the form of vocalist Dax Riggs who lyrically takes you to places you should not go and shows you things you should not see. But you’ve already pressed play, the genie is out of the bottle, and you cannot unsee or unhear these things. Lastly, the album was produced by D.R.I.’s Spike Cassidey who did a great job of capturing the band’s sound on this phenomenal record.

So what’s in store for someone who dares take a sip of that cocktail that Acid Bath is offering you? Trying to describe the album as a whole just does’t do it justice so what we’ll do instead is highlight some of the standout tracks from the album. Each track has its own distinct feel and no two songs are alike.

  • “Tranquilized” – Easily the band’s most accessible song that starts off with a bluesy rock riff while utilizing a wah pedal for effect. The second guitar plays soulful leads over the riff while Riggs spouts out his drug fueled vision of the world through his gothic-sounding mouthpiece (for a point of reference the melodic vocals are in the vein of Life of Agony’s Keith Caputo). The second half of the song descends into a stoner doom sludge riff while the second guitar continues to play leads over it all. The lyrics on this track are both disturbing and catchy when coupled with the vocal delivery – “They’re dying of rabies, eating their babies, In fields of dead daisies, I live tranquilized”
  • “Cassie Eats Cockroaches” – Powered by samples from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, this song is the final track on the album and utilizes quite a bit of death metal elements as the vocals go back and forth between melody and screaming. If you’ve seen Blue Velvet and are familiar with Dennis Hopper’s character in that film then the use of the “Don’t you fucking look at me!” sample will help seal the deal on this track for you.
  • “Scream of The Butterfly” – If you are an avid reader of this site and follow our Riff Ov The Week segment, you’ll remember that the opening bass line for this track was voted by readers as the best bass riff. And that bass line carries this track while the clean guitars that accompany it bring to mind “Floods” by Pantera off The Great Southern Trendkill. No screaming on this one, just straight singing and a great vocal performance all around. Of particular note is the use of the double bass kick drum towards the end of the song which works well despite the unconventional pairing with clean guitars.

That’s just a sample of what you are in for when you listen to this album. As previously mentioned, every track has its own feel and identity to it, so there are 11 more tracks to get into beyond these. To get the full effect of this album, you should really read the lyrics, as they are dark and disturbing yet vivid and colorful.

Now to answer the question, “what current bands are influenced by Acid Bath?” The answer is none. There is not a single band out there that sounds anything remotely like Acid Bath and yet this album could be released today and listeners would eat it up like candy. The ground breaking thing about this album is that it has transcended time. It was misunderstood when it came out and limited to only a cult following. When The Kite String Pops is one of the first albums that was mashing multiple genres together, and it may have been tough for listeners to digest at the time. Fast forward to today, you’ll find many artists combining multiple styles together and making it their own. While you may not be able to draw a direct correlation to Acid Bath, you cannot deny that this was happening in music long before it became a sexy thing to do. So if you are an aspiring band and you want to be darlings of the metal underground, try your hand at emulating Acid Bath. If you can somehow match the remarkable feat of what they accomplished over two decades ago, your musical career will be in good shape.

Perhaps strangest of all is that you cannot find the album anywhere on the Youtubes due to copyright claims. But being the resourceful guy that I am, I found a website that is steaming it so: Stab this mother fucking link and listen to one of the best of albums of all time! And if you are hopelessly lonely and want to be teased by some woman shadow dancing to “Mortician’s Flame” you can stab here if you are into that sort of thing. When you’re done with all that, move on over to Acid Bath’s second album Pagan Terrorism Tactics which is as equally astounding as this one. (Note: The Fish God prefers PTT over WTKSP, but it’s really too close to call in terms of which one is better).

So if you were one of the few who picked this up back in the day and felt it was a great album, do the Barry Horowitz and give yourself a pat on the back. You were ahead of the curve on this one.

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Groundbreakers is the Toilet ov Hell’s Hall ov Fame where we induct some of the most important and influential metal albums of all time. Catch up on previous entries into this hallowed bowl.

Neurosis – Souls at Zero
Death – Symbolic
Fear Factory Demanufacture
Voivod – Killing Technology
Today is the DayTemple of the Morning Star
Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil
The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed

(Photo VIA)

  • 1) I bought this on vinyl a few weeks ago, MMMMMMMMMM

    2) Kite String > PTT

    3) I used my knowledge of javascript event bubbling to solve a problem today!

    4) Dax Riggs is a god

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JMe5QWbBAU

    • nbm02ss

      Dax Riggs >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUPJxNc2VPs

      • Seriously though I could just eat that voice up all day

        • nbm02ss

          I’ve seen him live 3 times. Maybe one of the few perks of living in the Southeast.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF4fiz1P_jM

          • I haven’t seen em once, I think i’ve missed a couple opportunities but they ended up being a couple hours away both times

    • Woah, he have that weird southern voice, isn’t?

      A friend who sings in choral and study music told me that there’s that southern style in singing that is very very difficult to pull off, because it’s too much expresive and can’t be replicated so easy.

    • Dagon

      I like PTT better, but they’re all equally as good. It’s a completely personal thing.

  • Tyree

    If you want to see an acid bath, check out Pissgrave’s album cover here (NSFW).

    https://gracelessrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/grace014-pissgrave-s-t-demo-2014

    • HOLY F*CK! O.O)

    • RustyShackleford

      My college housemates are used to me blasting all types of weird shit, but when they saw that album cover in my iTunes they had some questions for me lol

    • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

      I regret eating before I saw this. It made me throw up in my mouth a little.

  • “Stab this mother fucking link”

    No, please! ;_;)

    But, seriously. This is a great induction. The review is perfectly done, Ron. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

    I couldn’t hear this album because the copyright reasons you named.

    But, I’ve always attracted to it because the story of the cover art. It’s deeply disturbing at first glance, indeed. Your descriptions in the music are very vivid, now I barely know what’s about it.

    • I read a book on John Wayne Gacey, facinating fellow. Glad you enjoyed it Link.

      • You’re the best Ronny! (Y).

        Do you know something about the interpretation of this cover art painting?

        • I think it’s inspired by the Stephen King book It. He also dressed up as a clown to entertain at kids parties. Every one thought he was a solid dude until the cops found 20 dead bodies in the crawlspace underneath his house.

          • W00t! Who were his victims?

          • Mostly young men in their early 20’s. He would offer them work and a place to stay. Then he would strangle them to death and stash the bodies in the crawlspace.

          • Sick! Thanks for the info, Ronny!

          • sweetooth0

            Also really into the whole raping before, during and after death aspect as well.

          • That was touched upon very little in the book I read. It was a detective’s account of the entire investigation. The guy was under constant surveillance and was still able to pull this stuff off.

          • sweetooth0

            From what I’ve seen and read that was his whole thing, bondage, strangulation and rape of teenage boys, and bringing joy to the neighborhood children’s birthday parties.

          • Scrimm
      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        I say this everytime his name comes up here so forgive me if uve heard it: I grew up in chicago and was in middle school when they dug the bodies out of his crawl space. The house was right near Ohare airport. I drove past it while visiting a few years back and they rebuilt a new home on the lot. Someone was ustairs watching TV with the lights off. Blew my mind, 30 plus corpses in that crawl. The neigbors complained about the stench to no avail for years.

        • more beer

          That`s pretty crazy. I grew up in Yonkers and aunt lived on the same block as Son of Sam. You never know who your neighbors really are.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            No joke! Wow your aunt had to freak out when they found out it was him and he lived so close. He had the whole city scared…he was so random and all over the place with his killings I seem to remeber.

          • more beer

            I was young 11 or 12 and I do remember how scared everyone was. I think in a way my aunt was safer than most. He wan`t doing that shit on his own block. Just everywhere else in the city.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Good point…yea I remember the news and all the headlines.

    • Stockhausen

      Haha, your opening joke.

    • Dagon

      Have you seen the cover for Paegan Terrorism Tactics, their second album? It was banned in Australia because of the cover, done by Dr. Kevorkian, who was an euthanasia activist nicknamed “Dr. Death” because he assisted patients in taking the final trip.

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a8/PaeganTerrorismTactics.jpg

      • Didn’t knew about this one, only the one mentioned by Ron.

        Kevorkian had a serie of paintings, as far as I remember, isn’t he?

        • Dagon

          Yeah, he did oil paintings and apparently was a jazz musician but I never heard anything from him.

          TBH I only know the painting featured in the cover of PTT hehe.

          • I remember that I read about Kevorkian in one of a Reader Digest in spanish magazine collection I have. It was very interesting and they said about their expo painting. Didn’t knew about the jazz parts!

            #ToHOfSharedKnowledge

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    both at once–full vol
    https://youtu.be/E8WMRLHr77A

    -https://youtu.be/9NaQZojWi6U

    • The W.

      What’s behind the levee, zzzzzz?

      • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        stillness

        • The W.

          Whoah

        • Hey, this is a beautiful word. Didn’t knew what it means 🙂

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Good album.

  • Derek’s Anger Translator

    Addiction + Depression + Anger + NOLA = When the Kite Strings Pop

    Almost everyone I knew 20 years ago loved this album, and it really is as good today!

    • The W.

      New here?

      • Maik Beninton

        I saw his profile and yes he’s new.
        Welcome fake Derek.

    • i take it you work for Godless Angel?

      • Derek’s Anger Translator

        In a way…I was born struggling out of one too many smiley faces.

    • Ehh, why are you liking the album? I thought you were full 200 % :CCCCCC and :(((((( and >:(((((

      • Derek’s Anger Translator

        Uhhh, did I mention Anger? No translation needed with this one.

        • Oh.. You’re good, then!

          Bienvenido a la Poceta del Infierno. Hope you stay and discuss with us about music and varied threads

          I hope Regular Derek/Godless Angel shows up here to have both side of the spectrum 😉

  • RustyShackleford

    Killer writing Deuce! I dig the cocktail analogy, makes me want a damn drink! Yep.

    Also fuck clowns
    https://41.media.tumblr.com/70adc8bc77a3a6a1afa849f97d1e0630/tumblr_nn4e50B9hU1u67xr8o1_400.jpg

  • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

    This is a great album but that Barry Horowitz reference made me laugh really hard.

  • this is my first time hearing Acid Bath. i know, i know. but see people like the loverly @Ron_Deuce:disqus are what make the Toilet what it is. currently listening and it certainly sounds like a good! your link didn’t work for me, but this one did:
    https://soundcloud.com/alanna-britney-porter/acid-bath-when-the-kite-string-pops-full-album-hd

  • Dagon

    Acid Bath was one of my favorite bands, and I spent quite some time imagining either a Porcelain Throne or a Groundbreakers article featuring them. I am glad neither came to fruition, because you did it much better than I would have done.

    Great story, great write-up too. While a case could be argued that there are tidbits of Acid Bath in a lot of current bands, and that they paved the way for all of NOLA sludge, you are right on the money when you say that no one sounds quite like them.

    Thanks for doing this, more and more people should know about this band.

    • I went through my entire library, did some google searching, sampled some suggestions but nothing came close. This is the type of stuff that has a unique aura about it.

      • Dagon

        Another band that ended way too soon.

    • I’d argue that Rwake were heavily influenced by Acid Bath, particularly at their beginning (check out the re-release of their first album). Probably because they were both regional, Southern bands.

      Also, don’t forget Deadman and Elephantboy if you like Dax.

    • Vladimir Poutine

      Another band of which I’ve heard the name plenty of times, but never got around to checking out. Looks like that should change once work lets out today.

  • Stockhausen

    Today I both pose and rule over you all: I’m hearing this album for the first time. I’m highly aroused.

    • Dagon

      That surprises me. You’re in for a treat.

      • The W.

        I’ve never heard it either, bruh.

        • Dagon

          I’m going to record millions of Acid Bath CDs and swim upwards to distribute them to you guys.

          Like Link said below, that’s my favorite thing about the toilet, discovering that some of your favorite bands are not as well known as you think they are, and then seeing other dude’s favorite bands and thinking to yourself “who are those guys?”.

    • Scrimm

      I managed to see thm live way back. Never could call myself a fan though.

      • Tyree
        • Dagon

          The thirst is real. This is the second time I’ve seen this pic with my eyes, but my brain has painted it in front of me more than I would want it to.

        • Scrimm

          The 90’s were awesome here in that respect. We saw pretty much every band that came through, and they ALL came through. 2-3 shows a month on average.

          • Tyree

            Rad. Not here, EVER!

          • Scrimm

            I’ll feel more sypathetic towards you after MDF.

          • Tyree

            touché

    • Actiondonkey

      I was working with a guy who jammed this back in 2002. Liked it then; even more so now.

  • The Beargod
    • that link is going to work for approximately two people in here.

  • JWG

    The last time many of us sat around our respective monitors discussing this album (on, I believe, The Blog Which Shall Not Be Named) I recall it triggering the sudden realization that maybe, just maybe, I ought to change part of my name so I wouldn’t have such troubling initials.

    I did, at least for a while, try just being a “JW” on other blogs – but people kept asking if I was a Witness, and I got tired of correcting them.

    • Dagon

      I faced a naming issue yesterday. You’re supposed to put your name in one specific part of the thesis as “LAST NAME, Rest Of The Name” and I didn’t know what to do.

      My name is Renan Ribeiro e Ribeiro – that “e” meaning “and”. I wasn’t sure if I should put RIBEIRO, Renan Ribeiro e or E RIBEIRO, Renan Ribeiro. Both seemed exquisitely weird.

      #TheStruggleIsReal

      • doxxed!

      • JWG

        Similarly, I get confused by forms that want my middle initial. I default to it being “W”, for the second of my three given names; but I am often tempted to put in WE when the forms don’t automatically resist more than one character. I’m sure it would screw something up, though.

        … I guess that also speaks to a resolution for changing my Disqus ID to seem mildly less murderous. I should just be JWEG.

        • Dagon

          Or you could be JEW G, the gangsta rabbi.

  • INCREDIBEARD

    Well, I would’ve been like 8 or 9 when this dropped. I do recall acquiring Far Beyond Driven shortly after it was released, though. I dont suppose I would have gotten it back then.

  • CT-12

    Great fucking writeup Ron, I was really hoping this album would be tossed in the Groundbreakers at some point! Lightyears ahead of it’s time.

  • Óðhinn

    Good article Ron Deuce. Good choice of album too.

  • JamesGrimm

    This is one of my favorite albums of all time.

  • The Bourbon Is Mine… Alone

    Special band, special album.

    Great write up Ron.

  • Great read #2

  • Lilo’s Meatflaps Of Doom (KJU)

    Haven’t heard this one in ages!

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    HOW DID I MISS THIS LOW HANGIN (CLOWN) FROOT?

  • Elizabeth Short

    Ten million points to you for this pick. I got this cd when it came out and listened to it non-stop for literally 4 months straight. I don’t think I’ve spun it more than twice in the past five years but I can still recite all the lyrics verbatim at the drop of a hat, that’s how much I love this album. Everything about is so captivating, crushingly heavy, and emotionally baring and honest. One of my few regrets in life is that I missed seeing them in Des Moines way back in the day because on the way to the show my friend got in a car accident. I have still not forgiven cars. Dicks.

  • Elizabeth Short

    I posted a very positive and good natured bit a couple hours ago about this, and it being one of my most formative and inspirational albums of all time and it was apparently just summarily deleted and tossed aside. The reason I followed the lot of you over from that other site was that I was under the impression you guys were more inclusive and understanding and supportive of eachother. I hope it was just a mistake and I’m wrong.

  • Doomchild

    Stop by our little place to find out more about Acid Bath’s groundbreakery and all that.

    A Board With No Name – http://www.aboardwithnoname.com

  • Still holds up as one of my favorite albums of all time. Dax Riggs is both a maniac and a genius.

  • xengineofdeathx

    Even though there is the occasional awkward transition, or not-the-coolest riff on this album it is pretty brilliant, and creepy. I always loved the mellow songs too.

  • Bling_Dollarz

    Ho boy, I was waiting for this one. Dat thick, sludgy goodness.