The fact that J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) was the drummer on GobbleHoof’s six-song debut ensured a measure of fanzine-level interest for the Amherst, Massachusetts, group. However, the person who really makes GobbleHoof worth hearing is Charlie Nakajima (who was in the pre-Dinosaur Deep Wound with Mascis and Lou Barlow), less a singer than a dramatic speaker with a commanding presence. His credit for “narration” rather than vocals is apt. As guitarist Tim Aaron reels off competent grunge noise (complete with wah-wah and all the trimmings), Nakajima recounts his lyrics in a weary, resonant deep voice, only occasionally reaching out to catch passing melody notes.
Mascis produced the full-length Freezer Burn, on which the even-more-imposing-sounding Nakajima and Aaron, plus a bassist, drummer and spare axe-wielder, repeat the EP’s basic formula with increased intensity and imagination. A bracing blend of ominous storytelling (“Embryo,” “Sadist,” the sepulchral “Shotgun”), furious singing, precise desert-storm guitar and pinpoint dynamic control (acoustic guitar finds a brief home), Freezer Burn opens the door to a roaring dimension that might at various times have been occupied by the Doors, Alice Cooper, David Lynch, Danzig, Nick Cave and Black Sabbath. Far less ponderous than it might seem on paper, GobbleHoof butts heads like a dark-hearted metal band, but never bludgeons its targets without good reason.