Not content with running a blog that covers the best in doom and sludge metal, The Sludgelord recently launched their own record label to help unleash some filthy underground sounds from both up-and-coming bands and established acts. Here are short reviews for a selection of four of the releases Sludgelord Records have put out this year, with their other releases listed below in order of release date.
All are available through Bandcamp and can be streamed on Spotify, so if you enjoy dirty death-doom and/or abrasive sludge metal be sure to check all of these out.
The debut full-length album from South Carolina’s Coffin Torture, Dismal Planet, the first release through Sludgelord Records back in February, is a crushing 42 minutes of scuzzy death-sludge. The bass and drum duo obviously draw influence from a range of genre overlords such as High On Fire, EyeHateGod and, at times, fellow duo Black Cobra, but that takes nothing away from their energy and importantly, their own character.
Dismal Planet opens with the rampaging “Bull of Minos”, which even with riffs that are as thick and as slow as molasses has a reasonable pace thanks to Blind Samson’s thunderous drumming. This tempo increases briefly for “Izhar” and the thrashier “Gustave” at the midway point before slowing considerably for the remaining three 7-minute tracks of riff-fuelled low-end filth. An admirable debut, Dismal Planet may not quite have what it takes to set Coffin Torture apart from others within the sludge scene but for genre aficionados, it’s definitely worth a listen. (The cover art is also amazing…)
NEST – Metempsychosis
Having already put out a couple of EPs, on Metempsychosis, this Kentucky duo, made up of guitarist Kyle Keener and drummer/vocalist Corey Stringer, serve up nasty blackened doom with a thick layer of crust and coloured with some neat psychedelia. The fuzzy low-end riffs emitting from Keener’s guitar drive the pacy “Heretic” alongside Stringer’s rhythmic whisky-gargled vocals. It’s not all furious riffing though, the phased bass tones of Keener’s guitar add a spacey, psychedelic feel to some of the songs, especially the lead-heavy drone track “Jewel Of Iniquity”. The drifting psychedelia continues on the second half of “From Darkness In Me, Illuminate” before the madness-inducing 9 minutes of penultimate track “Life’s Grief”.
Scientist expanded to include a vocalist for Barbeilth, their third album, and this has allowed the Chicagoans to build upon their complex blackened-prog-sludge and let go of the reins a bit. Barbelith is an absolute blast to listen to as it twists and turns through tempo shifts, complex structures and multiple influences. I also don’t think there’s any better description for this excellent conceptual, yet unpretentious, album than the band’s own, so I’ll just leave the rest to them: Barbelith is about “the search for life’s meaning through the use of psychedelics and the occult, only to discover that you haven’t even been born yet”…and is “heavily influenced by the concepts revolving around Grant Morrison’s comic book series The Invisibles“.
KITE – The All Penetrating Silence
It’s been 11 years since KITE’s last release The Hook, The Line, The Sinker which is nearing Tool/A Perfect Circle levels of inactivity, but thankfully, this short EP (4 tracks at 26 minutes) is just about to enough satiate. As with the other albums mentioned here, KITE lean heavily towards sludge metal whilst incorporating ideas, tones and influences from other sub-genres. However, if you’re a sludge newbie, KITE are maybe the most accessible of the existing Sludgelord roster, adding touches of post-hardcore, grunge and stoner rock influences to create a meaty yet melodic sound. Bluesy guitar leads nestle neatly beside huge distorted riffs and the throaty (not full-on death growl) vocals complement the clean sung lyrics of self-reflection. Short and intense, but complex and interesting The All Penetrating Silence sounds like the results of the bastard offspring of Baroness and Cave In being raised on a strict diet of Neurosis, Soundgarden and Floor. So, yeah, it’s dead good.
Twingiant – Mass Driver
A re-issue of Twingiant’s 2012 album, this lives at the faster end of the sludge spectrum and incorporates some tasty space rock elements. It may be rough and ready, but it’s a fun cosmic trip.
Kolossor – Crown of Horns
The trio’s debut is a bit overlong, but it has a few standout tracks (“Wall of Sleep” and “Thunderhelm” are both great!) amidst the slowed-down Leviathan-era Mastodon worship that’s scattered with wailing guitar solos and pounding drums.
HERON – A Low Winter’s Sun
Another adept debut album, HERON’s A Low Winter’s Sun follows on from two promising EPs and sees the seriously heavy sluggers improve and refine their blackened sludge sound.
Archelon – Tribe of Suns
And here’s another debut preceded by two EPs; Tribe of Suns from Sheffield’s Archelon is a compelling post-metal voyage in the vein of Neur-Isis. The crisp, clean mix by Pijn’s Joe Clayton and the production from the band themselves both help the lighter moments accentuate the truly huge sounding sections that the trio of guitarists create. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more Archelon.