“Oakland is a hard clique, if you don’t know someone there you’re a mark waiting to get got.” So begin the liner notes by Scott Kelly (Neurosis) to Eldopa’s The Complete Recordings (on Tee Pee). Despite being perhaps the most down-to-earth, racially diverse city in the Bay Area, Oakland has unimaginable poverty that gentrification hasn’t been able to whitewash. Out of this tough town came Eldopa. This CD collects the band’s one album, 1332, its self-titled 7″, a handful of demos, and a live radio session.
First, some historical notes. The band’s name is commonly spelled “El Dopa.” However, the band ran into legal trouble with another band of the same name and eventually changed its name to 1332 (perhaps this is why Tee Pee is releasing this album under the name “Eldopa”). On guitar and vocals was Grimple’s Greg Valencia, who now plays in the vastly underrated Watch Them Die. On bass was Econochrist’s Andy Branton, who now plays in Kalas along with Matt Pike of Sleep/High on Fire fame.
1997’s 1332 is the main reason to get this disc. Hardcore, sludge, and metal come together in one big ball of unclassifiable, pissed-off filth. This isn’t just aggression for aggression’s sake, though. Genuine frustration runs through the lyrics and scathing vocals: “Blinded with sight, ruined for life / Drowning in a pool of self-pity / Always wrong, never right / Can you see the dark cloud following me.” This is hardly poetry, but the music rises above teen angst with rather effective songwriting. “Headache” rides a catchy clean riff through tumultuous peaks and valleys, while “Infected” delivers a beatdown worthy of the Oakland Police Department.
Producing legend Billy Anderson recorded 1332, and it sounds nicely thick and dirty. The 7″, demo, and radio tracks mostly reprise the album, and they aren’t that different, except for sound quality. Orion Landau tops off the package with yet another awesome layout. There are few joys in life like a well-done discography CD, so pick this up