Robert Mathis is another man in black, who wields his acoustic only to warn and illuminate. Not entertain you with infectious little numbers. His baritone pipes call to mind other darkly dressed gentlemen, from the likes of Nick Cave to Adam Turla. Mathis has been recording his brand of muddy doom-folk under the Human Fly handle up and down the eastern seaboard for the past couple years, while this is the first full recording to feature a full band. Everything II: Variations on a Theme is simply a different rendition of the bare boned Everything Feels Bad At Once. This re-imagined take on the low key original, unplugged version is more of a companion piece, meant to complete a sonic puzzle. But don't worry - it still sounds like lonely drives down desert highways, and soaking in the blood of haunted motel rooms. Where the comfort of city lights are reminisced upon via barren toned licks that teeter between The Damned and Alice in Chains.
Everything II was recorded in a modern studio on a whim, to reinvent sooty folk as sprawlingly evil grunge. It was all done in one fell swoop, so all the darkness you hear is natural, and not produced by robots. Clarity ups the stakes, giving The Human Fly a greater sense of immediacy. Tracks like The Fine Line and Severed Head come alive with blaring distortion and words that break on Mathis' demented hollering. The electricity in the strings still allow for opportunities to create foreboding atmosphere, while bass creeps around like carnivorous ivy. Climactic, surging guitar payoffs are the fire and brimstone behind backwoods preacher sermons.
Gritty ballad You Remind Me of Martha, is plain theatrical, adding emotive muscle to exposed bones. Primitive Ways is like a more treacherous depiction of a Cramps single, that one might hear over the opening credits of an Italian 60s horror film. The latter, along with Moth are grunge bliss. Driving backbeats bring Mathis' excellent songwriting up from the cellar. The upbeat ADHD is miles away from atmospheric bleakness, yet is a reminder of of how The Human Fly can take a new form, with his knack for many faces. An anti-super hero, who when stripped away of a backing band is still prolific.
Everything II: Variations on a Theme is perfect if you ever wanted to know what it would sound like if Danzig teamed up with Cobain circa 1992. Madness and nihilism have never sounded so heart warming. If having two versions of a release is worth doing at all, than its worth doing right. And this is done so, so goddamn right.