“Sludge! Sludge! Glorious Sludge! Nothing quite like it for Barnaby Rudge!” So wrote Charles Dickens and what he didn’t know about Sunn O))), well, it wasn’t worth knowing in all honesty. Dickens would have loved many of the Doom/Sludge albums that have been released this year, and he, like us, would have donned some robes, plugged the strat into the effects pedal, thrown some horns, and got down to some serious metal.
However, as is the case for a site like Echoes and Dust, the volume of new releases we get sent daily is wonderful and remarkable, but we would need a team of writers thirty times the size it is currently to cover it all. Additionally, we all want to eat, drink, and live with a roof over our heads so we have to put the day job first. This, unfortunately for all of us, is not writing about music.
This is where, gentle reader, our new feature Resounding Echoes comes in. Last month we put together a collection of pint-sized reviews of some cracking post rock and post metal released in 2016 that hadn’t featured on the site, and it is now the turn of Doom and Sludge Metal to get the Echoes and Dust mini-review treatment. Of course, like a lot of metal variants, Doom and Sludge can be quite a conservative form (conservative with a small ‘c’), and so what we’re looking for perhaps, is a band which takes the form and pushes it in new and unexpected directions. Was that the case here? Read on my friend, to find out…
Exulansis by Somnus Aeternus – Released 01/04/16 via Epidemie Records
Written by : Stuart Benjamin
Czech Republic progressive doom band Somnus Aeternus have provided an excellent release in Exulansis, and at times it put me in mind of the legendary Celtic Frost for invention and innovation. Eschewing pagan and satanic themes, the album’s concepts are those of madness, emotion, of feelings so strong they make us feel, in some way, more alive, more connected to the world. Things that, frankly, we’re more likely to experience on a day-to-day basis than, say, prancing around a cauldron in the woods. It’s a concept that works really well throughout the album – that speaks to the listener – and married to the exemplary playing and production, it makes a case for being one of the better releases this year. Album opener ‘Zen and the Demise’ really sets things alight. Rhythmically inventive, it draws on post rock riffage as much as it does on doom. ‘Frostbound’ also is highly immersive – but then so is the whole record. Highly recommended.
Advorsus by Kurokuma- Released 09/09/16 via Medusa Crush Recordings
Written by : Bruce Cowie
Advorsus, the debut EP (Demos don’t count) from Sheffield’s three-man doom/sludge unit Kurokuma, is an impressively angry thing. A snarling sludgebeast, indeed. There are colossal riffs and ferocious vocals galore, as you might expect, but it’s more than just that. There are unexpected little treats, like the almost bouncy middle section of opener ‘Lust’, and that little melody that nods towards a Russian folk tune. There’s the tribal drumming and vaguely Eastern psychedelic intro to ‘Dark Triad’, a monstrous work of pummelling industrial strength rhythms and bellowing bass. The final 3 minutes or so, especially, are utterly devastating. Closing song ‘Kali’ is a bleak, grinding vision of Hell that puts me in mind, somewhat, of Italy’s Obake. It’s raw and abrasive, and very, very good indeed.
Kurokuma haven’t been around very long, but they’re off to a flying start with ‘Advorsus’. I genuinely look forward to whatever they can bring us in future. The NEAR future, hopefully. And I WILL see them play live sometime. Really, I will. As soon as possible. I can’t imagine that they would be less than awesome.
Yodh by Mizmor- Released 12/08/16 via Gilead Media
Written by : Jamie Jones
‘Bask in the Lingering’, the final track on Yodh, might be the most perfectly titled doom song ever. That’s what it’s for, isn’t it – for bathing under fuzzed out chords that hang in the air like corpses on the gallows? Mizmor do a bit of that, but there’s as much black metal running through their veins with frequent bursts of feral speed deviating from doom’s usual perma-sloth pace.
Sole band member A.L.N. has said that this release is the sound of his depression, and that’s no gloomier-than-thou boast. There’s a desperate, desolate, seething sorrow at its heart. ‘The Serpent Eats Its Tail’ is an oppressive lesson in bleakness that sees A.L.N. running through an impressive range of tormented howls, squeals, growls and grunts, including one noise sounds like a recording of the tragic and painful death of the last pterodactyl. This is metal for the broken and the lost, an almost unbearable wallowing in the depths of suffering. If that sounds at all appealing then you can take that as a recommendation.
Blues from the Red Sons by Bloodnut- Released 10/09/16 via Bandcamp
Written by : Rich Buley
“May the space orangutan look upon you with a toothy grin as opposed to a toothy grimace”.
One quick read of the press release that accompanies the debut album from this Auckland sludge/stoner metal 3 piece will leave you entirely clear about whether these guys take themselves too seriously or not. Bloodnut are a band of red heads, and Blues from the Red Sons is a heavy-riffing, boisterous collection of punk-infused sludge, some of which tell tall tales about what it is like to be a minority group in the hair colour department, and many of the misconceptions and prejudices that go with that.
“Take it from us we’re more evolved/we don’t tan well, well problem solved/don’t need a pill, don’t need the sun/we don’t do grey, forever young”.
Certainly no strangers to Kyuss, but with a nod across the desert to the more blasted side of Therapy?, Doug McFarlane’s bellowed vocals and the band’s largely playful lyrical content give Bloodnut a distinctive edge, although the ambitious ‘Bannockburn’ trilogy does conclude the album in darker, esoteric style.
10% of all album sales go to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. You know what to do, if you do not wish the space orangutan to be angry with you.
N.E.O. by Korsakov%vol.- Released 16/04/16 via Bandcamp
Written by : Lance Turner
Music is always subjective to the listener. Korsakov%vol. stay true to themselves with a continuity of sound within every track on their debut full length named N.E.O. which spans just under 45 minutes through 5 tracks. They blend mildly crunchy/distorted and exacerbated riffs with unconventional but still harmonic synths that at times lend to a sound of an American 1950’s horror movie. While yes, I do believe they have been able to achieve their self-proclaimed sound like that of a torrential rain, I do not believe they can be described as doom or ambient. Maybe in essence, or intention?
However, it is absolutely progressive in nature and certainly experimental by design. Korsakov%vol. have achieved much with only two current members and some in-line analogue and/or electronic assistance. However, I also feel as if their sound is incomplete without the dedicated rhythm of a bassline and someone to keep the beat. The thoughts I’ve scribbled should not be viewed as negative, and in root they are only a matter of personal taste. Yet, I still urge you all to listen for yourselves and form your own opinion. It may just change the way you think about or hear music.
Sludge Tooth by Hand of Weed- Released 18/08/16 via Bandcamp
Written by : Bruce Cowie
OK. Hand of Weed. You know exactly what you’re going to get just from the name, don’t you? And you’re right. The New Jersey trio offer us three songs, in total barely tripping over the 10 minute line, of classic Black Sabbath influenced bluesy instrumental doom. If you like Sabbath, Sleep and the like, you’ll be right at home here. It’s better than Sabbath, though, because it doesn’t suffer from Ozzie’s hideous, bleating voice. Actually, the band they most remind me of is Glasgow’s own Holy Mountain. Which is fine by me. Just unfussy, riffy rock for stoners.
There really isn’t much else to say about Sludge Tooth, to be honest. It’s great, but I wish it was longer. More songs, or longer songs, I’m not fussy. They’re probably awesome live, but I’m never likely to find out. Sadly. I bet the songs go on forever live. Damn, that would be so good…
Chained to Oblivion by Spirit Adrift- Released 12/08/16 via Prosthetic Records
Written by : Jamie Jones
Spirit Adrift is a one man band – it’s ridiculous what can be done by a lone wolf these days. Chained to Oblivion sounds very much like the work of a full band, and a pretty good one at that. They occupy a similar space to Pallbearer, jettisoning some of the harmony in the name of more muscular riff work.
Sole member Nate Garrett’s vocals could prove divisive however, a powerful vibrato that can be a little much at times, a little overly theatrical. And the guitar work crosses over the line from epic to out-and-out cheesy a few times too many. But nevertheless ‘Chained to Oblivion’ is emotional, melodic doom that’s a cut above a great deal of similar stuff out there, even if it’s a step or two behind the leading lights of the genre.
Ignobilis by OLDDWVRMS- Released 25/08/16 via Grizzly INC, Flesh Vessel Records & Rising Nemesis Records
Written by : Stuart Benjamin
Hailing from Belgium, OLDDWVRMS claim to make atmospheric music blended with forgotten tales of witchcraft rituals – or no doubt – rituals that they invented themselves. Indeed, Ignobilis is soaked in continental Paganism, Wicca, and other such themes. The album itself is made up of only four tracks which average out at around the ten minute mark in each case. ‘Deletere’ is something of a scene setter, but doesn’t really set things alight. However, the following three songs are actually very good indeed,
‘Amongst The Pines’ is incredibly atmospheric and as disorientating as being lost in a foggy woodland, with a sense of dread that you’re not alone and being watched. ‘Scorn’ provides heavy, vitriolic and nerve shredding moments while ‘Hear Them Sing While They Burn’ has a creepy Wicker Man vibe; and is, for my money, the strongest track here. Throughout there’s clever use of samples and spoken word, alongside some impressive guttural vocals. Standard doom fayre perhaps, but OLDWVRMS know what their audience like and they deliver it.