Now available at super low price 2CD. Re-mastered by Bob Weston and featuring new liner notes by Robert Christgau, Icky Mettle will come with bonus material (packaged as a second disc with CD) including the entire Archers of Loaf vs. The Greatest of All Time EP as well as singles and b-sides from the Icky Mettle era. No single trend in 1990s indie rock can be traced back to Archers of Loaf. They weren't quite "lo-fi," they weren't quite "slackers," their guitars weren't quite "noisy" and their drums weren't quite "mathy." Eric Bachmann's vocals were gritty and visceral, but his lyrics were oblique and cerebral. Archers of Loaf thrived on subtle contradictions, on purposeful vagaries, on tentative gestures delivered with utmost conviction. They released increasingly adventurous records for five years, and broke up with minimal drama or fanfare. This, the first in a series of planned deluxe reissues from Fire/Merge (US), perfectly captures the energy of the band's early days, from their slapdash first singles to the scrappy brilliance of Icky Mettle itself to the more honed recordings that followed. Released on the heels of some well-received singles and a buzzed-about performance at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York, Icky Mettle was a hotly anticipated debut. To say it starts on a strong note would be an understatement; opener "Web in Front" is quite simply among the finest indie rock songs ever written. That a song whose lyrics are all but impossible to parse literally comes off as so immediate and relatable speaks both to Bachmann's skill with words-as-sounds, and to his bandmates' ability to put force and nuance behind his voice. Much of the credit here belongs to guitarist Eric Johnson, whose melodic and fluttery guitar parts seem to hammer the very emotional notes that Bachmann's words intentionally skirt. The second disc compiles the excellent Vs. the Greatest of All Time EP and the early singles that were previously included on the Speed of Cattle compilation. The five songs from Vs. the Greatest of All Time hint at the more spacious and muscular sound that the band would cultivate on their sophomore LP, Vee Vee, while early 7" versions of "Wrong" and "Web in Front" are disjointed and flaccid previews of their album counterparts. Uncertainty has never sounded so much like a rallying cry Pitchfork Best new Re-issue 9/10.