The Ditch and The Delta
Hives in Decline – Vinyl // DD
Battleground Records – Released date: May 12, 2017
Reviewed by Aaron “Red Beard” Wall
The Ditch and the Delta are Elliot Secrist (guitar/vocals), Cory Quist (bass/vocals), and Charles Bogus (drums).The reason I’m starting this review with these dude’s names, is because they need to be known…this band needs to be known. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah, to say The Ditch and the Delta are a power trio would be disrespectful. I would comfortably describe them as a three piece of destruction. Releasing their very solid debut EP titled, We Rust last year. We Rust was a small primer of what to expect from these heavyweights. Now comes Hives in Decline. A brand new full length that will be released via the formidable Battleground Records.
The Ditch and the Delta are a splendid oxymoron. Sludgy, yet clean, a touch of doom while still pristine. Metallic with a sheen, though no doubt heavy as an industrial sized machine. These three guys are an amalgamation of all of my favorite late 90.s/ early 2000’s Relapse bands. Such as Mastodon, Baroness, Neurosis and Burnt by the Sun to name a few. The Ditch and the Delta are the heaviest jazz band ever…although I’m not talking free form here. I’m talking intelligence and weight. Dissonant chords and mountains of power. I’m talking beautiful devastation.
The title track opens the record with a soft low feedback intro that builds and triggers immediate anticipation of what is coming forth…and holy fuck does it come! It comes in the form of a gloriously sophisticated riff that bounces from harmonics to thunder, from thunder to harmonics. The crushing rhythm section kicks in with a mid paced off time groove that compels instantaneously. It then slides directly in to a slow paced dirge of heaviness. Hives in Decline starts off this record with teeth.The Ditch and the Delta have an immediacy that ups the intensity and power to a level most bands fail to even come close to.
Second track, Fuck on Asphalt (streaming below) starts with a surge. A badass grooving tempo set by the animals on bass and drums, contrasted against a more melodic riff. Albeit still heavy as steel. Another thing this band does so flawlessly, is mix the beauty with the brute. The center section has amazing, layered and varied leads twisting and turning into each other. Stunning guitar work by Secrist to say the least. The duel vocals of Quist and Secrist really shine on this song. ‘Fuck on Asphalt’ is an amazingly written tune.
‘Sleeping Dogs’ is next. ‘Sleeping Dogs’ is special…very special. It begins with a sludgetasticly deep, hefty, one note riff, that pummels as it varies over the first half of this jam. As they have the whole record, Bogus and Quist serve up a heaping helping of weight. Straight to the face. Now for the second half. Oh my god…the second half. This is where the magic starts. The Ditch and the Delta start throwing boulders like they are pebbles, for the next two minutes. Bombastic riff after bombastic riff. The gazillion ton hammer of the low end, and the thunder bringing drums. Again…’Sleeping Dogs’ (streaming below) is a very, very special song.
The boys give us a little well needed respite on the fourth track ‘Dry Land’. A western tinged instrumental that lets the listener catch their breath. A chance to make sure the guns are clean. Bellies are full, and heads are clear… For the battle continues on.
‘Til Body Quits’ starts the second half of the record. This song is mostly straight forward sludge. I cant praise the rhythm section of The Ditch and the Delta enough. Kory and Charles don’t just lay the foundation, the dig the ditch, as Elliot traverses the delta. The lead in the latter half send you directly into the Egyptian deserts of pharaohs. Another heady, but filthy song that is expertly executed.
The final two tracks on Hives In Decline wrap this journey up with down tuned celebration. ‘Mud’ is a technically furious, discordant jaunt of bliss. The closing track, ‘Dread Spectacle’ leads us on our final march towards the pinnacle. With magnificently placed clean vocals (the only time on the album I might add) singing “body of mine, don’t fail me now.”
Perfect ending. Perfect record. Perfect band.
In closing, The Ditch and the Delta have written a collection of emotional, thought and mind provoking, intense songs. Real songs. Complete songs. Mr. Secrist, Mr. Quist, and Mr. Bogus…I salute you. As a listener I am awed, and as a musician, we now must all step our games up. The Ditch and the Delta have raised the bar. Do whatever needs to be done. You must find and listen to the tremendous Hives in Decline.