Saturday, May 30, 2020

Down In A Hole...

IRN - IRN EP (2020)

Having kept up a steady stream of releases since their self-titled debut album back in 2013, the Canadian group of IRN have kept honing their sludge chops with each split, single, and LP to emerge. This new EP is their mostly widely distributed to date, with support from Breathe Plastic, Rope or Guillotine, Bad Moon Rising, and Craniophagus Parasiticus, coming out on tape, digital, and vinyl once July 1st rolls around.
First of the two tracks is “Blood Seeping from Your Eyes”, which flows from yelled curses right into the main groove. Punch-ins of feedback and snarls of bass smear right into the percussion and bellows, with the ~11-minute track continually finding room for another twist or bridge. “DIE!” is the most common and recognizable command among the vocal distress, and the song builds up some great tension (underscored by ringing feedback) as it burns along. A resurgence of venom helps spike the song into its closing moments, before moving on to the second side.
“Forever Miserable” moves into a slower pace, grinding along while bringing the vocals further to the fore, and delivering coordinated bursts from the instruments. Again, a use of rising tension throughout the track keeps the energy pushing along, with the band rising to recapture the speed from the first song. An extended mood shift back towards the slower material brings it back down to the mud from the midpoint, but revs back up for a big finish. Overall, some solid sludge, and a good way to get out some frustration if you happen to be stuck indoors.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Body Void, Lifeless Gaze, NEST, Noothgrush, Primitive Man


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Cracked And Cadaverous...

Eremit - Desert of Ghouls (2020)

Wasting no time in following up on their debut album from last year, the German trio of Eremit have unleashed this two-track EP, released (as was their LP) by the prolific Transcending Obscurity Records.
Leading with the nine-minute “Beheading the Innumerous”, the band rapidly rumbles up to action speed, pulled upwards by a growler of a riff and stabs of guitar feedback. As the rasping vocals make their way in, the tune congeals into a firmer groove, still working that central riff and showing how durable it is. Some tempo adjustment about midway through leads to more of a groove rider, but the original heaviness and raw vibes remain intact. Things ramp back up to higher speeds for the finish, with a grinding last minute leading to the next track.
The B-side is “City of Râsh-il-nûm”, and while the song doesn't quite deliver the Tolkien-ish mood suggested by that title, it does take its time at the start to build up a gentle atmosphere. Some slow string action, quiet percussion to guide it along, and some echoing bells or chimes glide along for about three of the song's twelve minutes. After that point, some amped guitar enters the mix, perking things up and providing enough dissonance that you may get a few goosebumps prickles while listening. Gradual increases on the general heaviness follow, making the song something of a study in the band's ability to pace itself while pushing onward. Slightly before the mid-point, they kick into hard gear, bumping up the volume on everything along with their intensity, and continue to cruise while finding additional elements to introduce along the way. All around, a good showing from this band, with some fun clues as to where they'll be going from here.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deuil, Mudbath, Plaguewielder, Slabdragger, Zaraza


Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dreams And Delirium...

Slowbot - Sleepwalker (2020)

It's been almost five years since Slowbot's last release, with their sophomore EP, Pacifier for the Mind.  Following just a year after their self-titled debut EP (which we covered here), their second effort found the band solidifying their stoner rock flavors into a heavier form, and stepping up their cover art as well.  Both trends continue with this LP, which comes as a welcome return from their hiatus, and brings with it six tracks of the French group's heavy rock explorations.
First of the tunes is “Sleepwalker (Part 1)” (its second half closes out the album, fittingly), a creeping crusher which finds the band delving into doomier territory than they've shown on either of the earlier releases.  Once the mood is firmly set, the vocals arrive, ringing out over the swampiness of the guitar and bass, and muffled clangs of the cymbals, with a goosebump-raising ghostliness to the timbre and intonation.  Some deft soloing directs a bridge into more pronounced restatement of the original riffage, with a brief drop before surging even higher for the finish.
With that powerful opening, there would be a lot of options for how to follow it up, and Slowbot go with a shift towards more of a hard rock route in “Strange Fish”.  The drums are allowed to come through more clearly, the guitar riff rides faster and more intently, and the vocals, while still echoing with some distortion, feel more earthly in their delivery.  As if to balance that out, the breakdown is much more psychedelic, with some serious flourishes on the strings.  “Inside” steps back into the big shoes, coming together at just under nine minutes, and bringing its heavy rock base on a versatile trip.  The vocals come through cleaner still, and some lush atmospheric bridges rise up, but with the guitar and bass slamming their chords down as hard as they do, not an ounce of heaviness is sacrificed.
Opening the B-side (assuming this album gets the vinyl release it absolutely deserves) is “Ride”, which brings a rollicking rhythm to bear, and a pounding chorus to get lodged in your head.  Dropping down to just seven minutes, it really evokes the sun-baked feel of rolling down a highway with no particular destination, and practically demands to be played at high volume.  Penultimate track “Here Comes the Fire”, far from being a toss-off warm-up for the finish, changes to a rawer guitar tone to help it stand out (as the LP's shortest song, it kind of needs that feature).  Some droning warbling from the singer helps lend further garage psych flavoring, and the guitarist really seems to be having fun with the solo on this one.
Lastly, “Sleepwalker (Part 2)” brings a close with its nearly eleven-minute run.  Pulling together vibes from all the preceding songs, it unfurls a lengthy instrumental wandering, building up energy before the vocals break in, pulling it into the doom-tuned mood.  Flowing from there through assorted other twists and mutations, the band eventually ties it all back into the original order, giving a fine showcasing of their chops in the process.  It's a pleasure to hear Slowbot back again, and rising to the occasion with such verve and creativity.  Here's hoping that (in addition to this getting a vinyl pressing) their next release doesn't have such a time gap in making its way to us.  Even if it should, though, this one is loaded with enough variety and life to hold up to playing all that while.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Canopy, Fatso Jetson, Greenthumb, Keef Mountain, Pale Grey Lore


Saturday, May 09, 2020

Acrid Fume Exhalation...

Church of Destiny - Black Smoke Eats Out (2020)

Following up on their debut album from last year, the Bulgaria-based Church of Destiny have resurfaced with this five-track EP, delivering a quick shot of dirty sludge on the lo-fi side. Launching off with the muddy thrashing of “Fixation”, the band wallows about in low-end reverb, growling vocals, and hard-beaten percussion, rolling it together in coat of rough production that fits the attitude on display.
After that pleasant introduction, it's on into “Ghetto Hope”, which brings a bit of rolling rhythm to the beats, building the tune up over its run into something that glides along on heavy bass hum, before breaking back into the rougher handling. Despite some odd structuring, it's one of the hookiest riffs on the EP. A spoken-word sample (an extended cut of one used on Meth Drinker's OIL album) leads into “Shooting Whores”, which bumps along on more of a guitar-riven crunch. Bass breakdowns give it some grounding in the heavier end, though, which makes for an effective balancing.
The last two tracks run in quick succession, adding up to about five and a half minutes between them. First of the closers is “Numbing Dose”, which drops in a druggy sample to set the tone before launching into a punchy up-and-down rhythm, and “A.C.A.B.” leans hard into the punk side of sludge's roots, bashing out a down-tuned blast of hardcore antagonism. Though the production can be kind of ragged at times, it does show off the band's authenticity in a way, and sludge is something that's never benefited from being too clean, anyway. Those looking for some under-the-radar metal, give it a go.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Hypnochron, Lifeless Gaze, Mudbath, O.D.R.A., Zeppheroin