It’s been 13 years since bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis founded Big Business, a crushing sludge-pop venture built on the cornerstones of simplicity, heaviness, and blackened hooks—and white lies. Don’t let their frequent power-duo categorization fool you; while the Seattleites employ the same top-heavy production and percussive meltdowns as their paired-up peers (Death From Above 1979, Lightning Bolt, Japanther), they’ve always depended on extra personnel to round out their studio recordings and legendarily rowdy concerts with additional riffs, keys, and backing vocals. That all changed after Big Business’ last record, 2013’s Battlefields Forever. Guitarist Scott Martin left the band not long after the album’s release, leaving Warren and Willis to fend for themselves for the first time in ages.
Big Business’ latest effort, Command Your Weather, isn’t just album number five; it’s the duo’s first recording devoid of additional personnel, effectively rendering the LP as a test of Warren and Willis’ adaptability as well as their overall staying power. Fortunately for devotees, the guys are well-equipped for the task on standouts like “Father’s Day” and “Diagnostic Front,” filling in the newfound swathes of negative space with amplified versions of Big Business’ tinnitus-inducing trademarks: murky, abyssal bass riffs; martial time signatures; and layers upon layers of impassioned, howled harmonies to help the din go down easy.
Command Your Weather may signal the start of a new era for Big Business, but paradigm shift it ain’t. Warren and Willis’ unwieldy vocal interplay notwithstanding, the record’s stark, simplistic palette generally precludes intricate arrangements or stylistic risk-taking—except for on “Send Help,” a slow-creeping, bassless psychedelic rock song and one of 2016’s most boring bad trips. Then again, Big Business was never one to get caught up in process or philosophy; like touring partners and longtime collaborators the Melvins, Warren and Willis sound best when they’re translating the primal rage embedded in their shared reptile brain—and they don’t need any guitars for that.