Posts Tagged ‘Sludge Doom’

Eremit - Desert of Ghouls

Review by Sandre the Giant

I waxed lyrical about German sludge doomsters Eremit and their debut record two years ago here. They have a mighty legacy to follow, even if it is only one album. ‘Desert of Ghouls’ is the newest piece from them, and it is out now through Transcending Obscurity.

Only two tracks here, but they total over 20 minutes so I think the legacy of ‘Carrier of Weight’ remains strong. Opener ‘Beheading the Innumerous’ swells through squalling feedback and schizophrenic drums into a fuzzed out rumble that groans with primal weight. This mighty riff cycles endlessly, soon accompanied by a tortured howl. It is hypnotising and smothering, slowly submerging you in mighty doom while you’re too transfixed to move. The other half of this piece, ‘City of Râsh-il-nûm’, begins to fade in gently, like a mirage slowly becoming clear. It’s over five minutes in before a churning groove looms into view, a bleakly relentless sandstorm of gloom piling dust on an ancient place. It feels like an awakening of some dark beast that dwells beneath a forgotten temple, lost to time.

‘Desert of Ghouls’ is a very apt title, as this feels like a journey through ancient lands and bewitched by ancient dark magic. There’s a titan weight to each track, an oppressive depth and darkness to each sallow riff and impassioned growl. Eremit blew my mind the first time I heard them, and they’ve begun now to move beyond our world and into something else. Something old and vibrant.

Jupiterian - Protosapien

Apologies in advance if I appear extra fawning in this review (even more than usual), but I have been waiting for this record for three goddamn years since I feel in love with Jupiterian’s last record, ‘Terraforming’, which I reviewed here. That was almost my record of the year that year, and this already has a chance for 2020. It is out in September through Transcending Obscurity.

‘Homecoming’ builds with the ominous clang of a bell(?), ambience humming beneath a swell of brass as if it is ready to announce the arrival of some ancient god. ‘Mere Humans’ is that god, a vast crushing riff churning beneath a vortex of inhuman growls. There’s more than a taste of atmospheric black metal poisoning this album too, bringing with it some fuzz, spoken word and chanting backdrops. Death/doom often has a nascent beauty about its heaviness, and Jupiterian temper this with on ‘Protosapien’, where ‘Voidborn’ feels like the music is being ripped from a black hole and drowned in tar.

But you also have tracks like the gloomy ‘Capricorn’, that builds with a glorious riff pattern and bathes in mesmerising atmosphere before the destructive power comes in. ‘Protosapien’ has a number of moments like this, where we head towards a more Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride direction. You never get Lousiana sludge, this is more like Amazonian sludge; a primal, natural beauty trapped with cloying, sweltering heat. ‘Starless’ is the sound of other dimensional titans clashing in the void of space, while the closing ‘Earthling Bloodline’ would render the earth cracked and broken forever should it ever make landfall.

Is ‘Protosapien’ better than ‘Terraforming’? This is a hard call for me but I think it is. There’s more nuance, more darkness and more emotional weight draining you during these songs, and for Jupiterian to top their previous work is, for me, astounding. This is the standard to beat this year now, and I think it’ll finish either atop or second at the end. If you only hear one record this year, make it ‘Protosapien’.

Demonic Death Judge - The Trail

First published here:

The beautiful artwork adorning the new record from Finland’s Demonic Death Judge gives you a little taste of the mountainous groove contained within. ‘The Trail’ may come from frozen northern shores, but it aches with a Deep South groove that is very satisfying. I have previously enjoyed Demonic Death Judge’s work, particularly the predecessor to this, ‘Seaweed’ It is out now through Suicide Records.

The ghostly, country acoustics of the opener ‘Cougar Charmer’ give a very Appalachian mountain feel, something that remains in the melodies throughout this record. The bluesy ‘Filthy as Charged’ is brilliantly addictive, as is the hardened sludgy doom of ‘Hardship’. The guitar tone is thick and cumbersome, dredging the rivers of groove to find some great licks deep in the endless mud. The vocals are harsh and raw, something that works well against the chunky swagger of a song like ‘Shapeshifting Serpents’, which also contains some of my favourite more tripped out sections of the record.

Modern sludge comes across as kind of soulless at times; trapped in an endless cycle of EyeHateGod riffs and nihilistic screaming misery. And that is all well and good but sometimes you need something to feel a little bit, I don’t know, optimistic? Feel good? Parts of ‘The Trail’ almost do, like the rising melody of ‘Flood’ that leads into a righteous blues groove. Something like that is really hard to feel grim about. It makes you want to bang your head epically slow. The psychedelic wanderings of ‘Fountain of Acid’ lead into a reprise of the opener, which feels even more beautiful now.

By the time the glorious rumble of the title track lumbers into the closing, incredible groove of ‘We Have to Kill’, the infectious riffing and melodies have wormed their way into your brain and will not leave. ‘The Trail’ is a record designed to be appreciated multiple times; the insidious nature of the songwriting becoming more and more apparent with each listen. Demonic Death Judge are a band I initially had preconceptions about because of that kinda awkward band name. They’ve proven to me that they are essential listening.

Hand of Omega - Left Hand Wrath

First published here:

The debut demo from Stoke on Trent’s Hand of Omega is called ‘Left Hand Wrath‘, and this sludge doom quartet are looking like devastation is their forte with a two track, twelve minute bludgeoning on the cards. It is out now self released.

The sickening guitar tone that rises from ‘Amazon Burning‘ is met by the equally disease ridden vocal snarl, drowning within a suffocating murk. It’s a pretty heavy place to start, and it only continues down this path of nihilistic dread. There are moments of utter Lovecraftian insanity, when the pace rises and the song flails like an unknown beast. The second part of this miasma, ‘Convolution‘, has absorbed much of the same bile that infested the opener, and sounds like if EyeHateGod released a bedroom black metal demo. Except with way more low end. The bass crunch on these tracks is thunderous, and unlike a lot of sludge there is no bluesy groove saturated in here, just pure straightforward violence.

Left Hand Wrath‘ is a brutal reminder of how lo-fi, sanity cracking sludge can feel like the end of the world, and why that self destruction is so addictive. Hand of Omega are here to be feared, and there will be few survivors.

The Osedax - Meridians

The third album from Virginians The Osedax is an odyssey through the possibilities of sludge doom majesty. ‘Meridians’ is out in January next year, and plays with shades of heavy in ways that is refreshing and honest. Named for a bone burrowing deep sea worm, this is definitely something crafted at benthic depths.

Opener ‘Offen’ is a truly majestic piece; trawling the greatest moments of Isis and Neurosis and melding that to a sense of scale that is staggering. The ebb and flow of the primordial crush, sodden with glacial weight, is inspiring. Almost as inspiring is the eerie calm of ‘Beacon/Ox Eye’s opening few minutes, when the quiet ambient hum is only broken by an occasional note. As the riff begins to appear, shimmering like a mirage over a salt flat you are suddenly bombarded with dense, raging catharsis. It is almost black metal in places, with the shrieks echoing throughout, but nothing can outplay the crushing deepsea trench riffs that ooze from the cracks in the earth. ‘White Horse/Tempest’ has this same beautiful juxtaposition of haunting ambient noise, almost whale song-like, before thunderous guitar avalanches through, and closer ‘Ratlines’ is bleak and mesmerisingly peaceful.

There will be an almighty fight for this to be beaten as my album of 2020. It speaks to me in such a primordial way, that I pity what will follow. ‘Meridians’ is glorious, and The Osedax are the gods of these ancient, deep waters. Preorder this now

V - Led into Exile

First published here:

Out earlier in the autumn, Sweden’s sludgey doom lords V’s second record ‘Led Into Exile’ is a forty minute journey over six tracks, and looks to establish them as potential pretenders to the throne currently occupied by fellow Swedes Cult of Luna. This is full of sweeping dynamic shifts and huge riffs, but can they bring anything else to the table?

The opener ‘Broadcast from the Shadows’ begins with a slow-burn build, an almost hypnotic drone accompanied by tribal drumming before some dense riffs crash down. But this doesn’t just become your average ‘riff-shout’ assault that many other bands try for. There are genuine moments of melodic interludes, where the heavier sections are given a chance to breathe and the atmospherics flex themselves. ‘Illviljan’ has a harsher and raw sounding guitar tone, rumbling along with an eye on the grinding early work of Isis or Neurosis. These bands are obviously a great influence on V, and the titanic crush of ‘Hostage of Souls’ that follows just reinforces this. However this isn’t just the glistening weight of ‘Celestial’, nor the primal heft of ‘Through Silver in Blood’.

‘Led Into Exile’ is its own master, be it the ghostly almost silence that creeps through ‘Hostage of Souls’, the swaggering Sabbathian doom riffs that open ‘Phantasmagoria’ or the bleak folk acoustics of ‘None Shall Rise Again’. V are chameleonic; one moment hitting you with visceral heaviness and the next tugging on your emotions with beautiful material. It is this that makes them so appealing. Not every band in this style will risk opening themselves up like that, but V do it with aplomb.

As the monolithic title track thunders us to the close of the record, ‘Led Into Exile’ has left quite an impression on me. Whether crafting massive riffs that loom above like cliffs in the night, wretching vocals echoing around them or allowing us an insight into the quieter moments with acoustics or electronica, V are not just going to play the game the way we expect them too. ‘Led Into Exile’ is a surprisingly poignant work, and the sooner we can get more from V the better.

Originally published on the Sleeping Shaman:

German sludge rockers Red Stone Chapel release their debut record, ‘Omega Boombox‘, on the 25th of October through Argonauta Records and it is eight tracks of southern rock with all the stoner, progressive, sludge and blues influences you could need in your life. The Sleeping Shaman even managed to snag ourselves a premiere for it. But in a world of a thousand bands that claim to do this kind of music, can ‘Omega Boombox‘ stand out from the crowd?

The short answer is yes. ‘Omega Boombox’ may not reinvent the wheel but that wheel is beautifully looked after. Opener ‘Squid Limbo‘ hits you with a big ol’ riff that just hits that sweet spot with bluesy groove. The gruff vocals of frontman Dimi suit the whiskey-soaked attitude perfectly, and the swagger is retained throughout. Red Stone Chapel are a band that aren’t short on confidence, and the Orange Goblin-esque thrust of ‘Dead Man’s Chime‘ and ‘Praise the Fool‘ are things of beauty. The great, looming shadow of Clutch also is very noticeable, and the opening to ‘Panta Rhei’ would make Neil Fallon and crew proud! Red Stone Chapel are no tribute however. They’ve got a sound of their own.

I’m a metal fan that appreciates all the brutality, ethereal blackness or suffocating death that I can get, but we all must admit to a weakness for massive bluesy grooves. I mean, this is where all hard rock and metal grew from; a style that if nurtured properly can still electrify even after decades of being overdone. Red Stone Chapel add a nice, rough and gruff edge to their stuff, giving it a real authentic feel. Like some rough old mountain lads kicking back some Zeppelin and filtering it through a little early Mastodon. I’ve been listening to the psychedelic doom rock of ‘The Paper King‘ on repeat for days, and I’ll never get sick of it.

Omega Boombox‘ has most of everything you’re going to want in an album like this; hefty blues, swaggering RAWK grooves, gravelly vocals that aren’t missing an ounce of soul and some absolute killer riffs. Red Stone Chapel’s debut is packed full of potential hits, and enough subtle touches to make it all their own. This is a band to keep an eye on for the future, as if they can build on their foundation here and maybe go even a little weirder next time, it’ll be special indeed.

Blind Monarch - What Is Imposed Must Be Endured

The titanic sludge doom of British misery artists Blind Monarch has finally seen the light of day earlier this year through Black Bow Records, and ‘What is Imposed Must Be Endured’ is four tracks and almost an hour of crumbling, ruinous music.

Opener ‘Suffering Breathes My Name’ seeps, drips, crawls into view; a mesmerising magma flow of earth wrenching riffs and tar gargling roars. A funereal pace lurches the song forward, with huge Winter style riffs being accompanied by the kind of nihilistic scream you’d find in NOLA’s finest. The quiet moments of ‘My Mother, My Cradle, My Tomb’ are almost as terrifying as the rest, the band’s eponymous track drags us to the cold edge of cosmic oblivion where closer ‘Living Altar’, gently prepares us what is to be endured. Which happens around the four minute mark and your sacrificial casting into the void marks the beginning of the end of this mammoth paean to darkness.

Blind Monarch’s vast, crushing doom would be a fitting epitaph to the end of this world. ‘What is Imposed Must Be Endured’ is the kind of record that comes along rarely; one that plays with emotional heft as well as the weight of its riffs. Blind Monarch are superb, and if this world doesn’t collapse under its own self destruction, please may we have more of this?!

Eremit - Carrier of Weight

If there’s one thing that challenges you as a music reviewer, it is seriously long tracks. How do you explain why a thirty minute track is great, or it isn’t, without waffling on for literally half an hour. Well, German sludge doom lords Eremit have challenged me here, with ‘Carrier of Weight’, three tracks of massive atmospheric doom clocking in at over an hour. It is out through Transcending Obscurity in February.

The best way to approach this for me is to imagine it as a soundtrack to a film I can’t see. Opener ‘Dry Land’ is 22 minutes, building from quiet contemplative notes and whispered vocals into vast, groaning riffs of doom. Funereal in its atmosphere, an oppressive heft pushes down upon you, while abyssal growls summon you to the depths. When the riffs vanish, the quiet is almost as weighty. Whatever film I’m imagining is suffocatingly dark, miserable and nihilistic. The shortest track is the second, ‘Froth is Beckoning’, and it has a much more traditional chug to it; almost fast paced compared with the glacial crush of closer ‘Cocoon of Soul’.

That is the pièce de résistance; a vast world of rain, earth quaking riffs and foreboding dark atmospheres. The fact that this is a debut record is absolutely brain melting, and as for my complaint at the top of this review, well frankly I could write a thesis on the majesty of this track. From the creaking wood at the start and the gentle ominousness of the acoustics it takes a full eight minutes before the heaviness appears and then wow. The roiling riffs are mesmerising, crashing off you the way waves crash against cliffs. This is enhanced even further by a droning, humming background swell that increases the scope even further. By the time it fades away to nothing, there’s not much of you left to enjoy it.

Wrapped in a stunning piece of artwork from artist Mariusz Lewandowski, Eremit’s work is a staggering paean to gloom. Misery engulfs you like pitiless rain, leaving you sodden with sadness and doom. Bands that have been doing this years can’t come up with stuff this good, and Eremit are just debuting their primordial crush here. ‘Carrier of Weight’ is glorious.

British sludge doom band Kurokuma are dropping a new EP called ‘Dope Rider’, based on a 1970s strip called Dope Rider in High Times magazine. That, sadly meant nothing to me, but after listening to this, I’m definitely going to check it out. I reviewed their last EP, ‘Advorsus’ here, and this is a good follow up.

Part 1 is a rumbling slab of sludgey doom, with more than a touch of classic Godflesh nihilism. The vocals switch from a throaty roar to a raspy scream, while a massive Crowbar riff groans and grinds through the middle. It has the same dense, smothering feeling that ‘Advorsus’ had in spades, but there is an addition of an almost hypnotic, psychedelic drone to it as well. Relaying the tales of a skeletal stoner cowboy through the medium of hazy, riff powered doom is probably the most apt meeting of minds in history. Part 2 is based on one of the original tales, and is a great slab of sonic assault, lumbering through smoke filled canyons.

‘Dope Rider’ is a great two track EP, and while I’d love to see this expanded into a full concept record, Kurokuma continue to build their reputation on the live circuit and give us just a taste of what is to come through these shorter releases. Get this now!