Monday, April 13, 2015
Sludge is more of the atmosphere to what this California band does than the totality of it's sound. So don't judge them based upon the opening song. This is really just an ep as the opening song is only an intro piece rather than a full song. The more cavernous black metal of "A Precipice of Stone" is the first proper stone. It's not a stab at doing what Darkthrone has already done, not relying on blast beats. There is a sweeping dissonance running through the song. The vocals are rabidly feral. This band does what I love, they are just as heavy sonically as they are metal. When the blasts do come they do not runaway with the song, but are only one dynamic. When they go into "Judgement" they slow things down and are able to set aside the metal distortion until it's needed in order to serve the song.The vocals scream out against an otherwise melancholy melody they create. Layers of sonic tension build as an under current. It's in the moments where this band makes these creative choices that they set themselves apart from the pack. The flurry the drummer stirs up rather than defaulting into blast beats shows exquisite taste.
"Is it the Mercy" gets off to a lingering start as the song creeps out of the shadows. The vocals are a clean chant with an almost goth element to them, which is very much in the vein of Atriarch. This is a compelling use of something more akin to singing, but avoids becoming color by numbers good cop/ bad cop vocals trade off even when the song builds up. There is more of a doom pacing to " Is it the Mercy" rather than the jagged edged noise sludge summons. This is a very powerful moment that maintains an honest emotional balance a band like Starkweather would have.
Feedback and creeping chords usher in "Black Oceans". The vocals go back to being tortured in almost a depressive suicidal manner. The drummer plays around the guitars rather than trying to lock in on an expected groove. They keep things thick and dripping with desperation. "Languorous Void" picks up into a shuffled blast beat, there is this chaotic black metal that is getting pounded into place by an oppressive beating the drummer inflicts upon it. They pull it together from a more amorphous rumbling into something more driven. The last song is a noise driven piece that features a guest appearance by Oxbow singer Eugene Robinson. Robinson is low in the mix. I can hear where the comparisons to Birthday Party era Nick Cave come from in regards to Robinson's style, but there is also equal parts Henry Rollins. Musically there is not much in the manner of form and function holding this one together. The songs that are actually songs and not just noise driven sonic experiments are close enough to perfect for me to round this one up to a 9.5.