Wednesday, December 4, 2019
the Top 10 Sludge Albums of 2019
It's that time of year again, to sort through the top 10 albums of all the respective genres and then compile all the number ones into the top 10 albums of the year. Then I will make the top 10 lists for the decade. To be blunt 2019 is the decade's weakest year for music. Especially when it comes to new artists, as 7 of the 10 bands are veterans to our lists here. You had to search much harder to find ten albums that rose above, yet that is what I did. In fact I might have complied more than in the past, as I split up the genres more. In past years sludge was lumped in with stoner rock. This was because it was basically bong worshiping metal that was not doom. I think this points out the distinction between doom and these genres even further. You will see here how there is more of a feral sonic rawness to these bands than doom. While they might lumber quite a few pick up the pace a good deal and pull influence from black metal and death. Not looking for Neurosis worship here. As in past years I am giving a brief explanation as to why these albums stand over the peers in lower positions on the list. The very fact these bands made it on the list speaks to how great these albums are so it's not a slight that the number 8 album is above the 9th album, there is something that just gives it an edge that makes me want to listen to it more. After all we can try to look cool and pick the hippest bands for a list, but at the end of the day what makes an album the best is that it makes you want more, you look forward to listening to it again. Sure you can bitch and complain about your favorite band not being on the list, I listen to five new albums a day, so yes I heard your favorite album and was not impressed and no, I do not care what you think about. I do hope you can find your next favorite on this list and included links to reviews of these albums if you want to check out audio on these guys. Anyways here are the top 10 Sludge albums of 2019 .
10- Bather- " s/t"
On the crust side of sludge, this album has a balance of raw attack and atmosphere guitars . They create a creepy mood to provide a more bleak current to these songs. With a sound that is dense and heavy, this is done with taste and attention to serving the songs
9- Weird Tales - "Hell services cost a lot
" One thing I like about making these lists is it reminds me of albums that came out earlier in the year that I in turn rediscover. This Polish band is great, so don't let this become an album you sleep on. The vocals are more sung than the typical gruff barking sludge employs not making it any less heavy. Lots of freaked out drug crazed rock n roll influence.
8-Oceanwake- "Lights Flashing in Mute"
The Finnish are not known for sludge, so this is not straight up sludge. There are elements aside from death metal here. Some touches of post-rock and flourishes of almost neo folk. The production serves it well, for the ambitious scope of what they are doing these guys hit all the marks. The reason it beat out Bather, these guys have more dynamic range.
7- Aseethee - "Throes"
They defy the conventions of sludge . While this album sounds great , there are songs and not just drone. This is a band doesn't play it safe and they break way from the pack to do their own thing.It beat out Oceanwake for this spot because they are more refined in their heaviness, making them heavier.
6-Naga - "Void Cult Rising"
More uptempo and feral than the last album, more feral but not as dark. There is a warmer mix than I remember the . The blackened touches are sparse, but the riffs are still fucking mean.There sound is really dialed in on this album, might not be as heavy as Aeethee, but they captured an overall better quality of sound
5-Cult of Luna-" A Dawn to Fear"
This album firmly reestablishes their return. The are lots of layers and dark melodies buried with in them. The vocals are the throaty growl. The mix of groove and atmosphere is strong. Despite the two bands vocals being pretty much the same these guys used said groove to beat out Naga.
4-Dead to A Dying World - "Elegy"
This is blackened sludge, yet I can hear where people might be quick to call it post-rock. This album also features guest performances by two former Swans members, Jarboe and Thor Harris, who appear on "Vernal Equinox" . So how can they go wrong ? The album is really dialed in when it comes to the sense of dynamics. In fact it is the expansive sense of dynamics that Cult of Luna can't compete with.
3-Helms Alee- "Notiluca"
When I went back to listen to this album again it clicked with me how great it is. I can appreciate being hooked on Fistula albums, but even though this is not the most crushing sludge album of the year, the songs are fucking well written and make this worth repeated listens and stand the test of time . Yes there is noise rock and a prevalent Melvins influence to this album, this doesn't make them any less sludge, in fact it puts them head and shoulders over most of their peers.
2- Fister -"Decade of Depression"
It was a tough call between this and the album that beat it out for the top spot. Yes, this album is more than half covers. It is not the only only covers album that is going to do well this year. They fucking wreck these songs. I mean picking Slayer and Danzig tunes and laying them to waster is impressive. The album sound great it is crushingly heavy, but still musical. It's this vulgar display of raw power that beat out the more diverse sounds of Helms Alee.
1- Lord Mantis - "Universal Death Church"
This wildly feral sludge band often chugs it's way towards making raw and nasty death metal. Sanford Parker who produced the album made some interesting choice on what he choose to to with the vocals. The sonic darkness of the throb these songs take on is just the kind of heavy I look for in music. This one beat out Fister for top spot as the power of this band's originals out muscled the Fister album that found it's strongest moments to be covers.