Posts Tagged ‘Sludge’

Panurus Productions – 4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Although August is the peak of the British summer, its end often seems to mark a sharp shift into Autumn; less a transition than a rapid cut. It’s a trick of the mind and a distortion of memory, of course, but summers always seemed longer and hotter in childhood; the realisation that what once felt like an infinite expanse of time which was free to fill or squander at will is, in fact, but a heartbeat in a life is a source of deep anguish. There is never enough time. No-one ever lay on their death-bed lamenting that they wished they’d spent more time watching repeats of Bargain Hunt or Homes Under the Hammer or whatever, no-one complains that they read to many books or spent too much time living their life, do they? The torment of a constant awareness of the passage of time is self-sabotaging, as the paralysis of panic grips hard. And pitched as ‘a screaming elegy for lost moments and isolation’, this is precisely what Centuries of August, which takes its title from a line from a poem by the solitary and reclusive Emily Dickinson, articulates.

If everything seems to be dominated by themes of isolation and derangement in 2020, then perhaps that’s because the magnitude of the events – or non-events – we’re living though exit on a scale that is truly all-consuming. Even the most introverted and reclusive are finding the isolation difficult to deal with: there’s a world of difference from choosing not to go out and see people, and not having the choice, especially as for many, music events provide a safe space where it’s possible to feel included and among people without the need for the kind of forced interaction that’s part and parcel of the workplace, and where it’s possible to experience a sense of community and collectivism without conforming to the less comfortable social conventions.

2020 has revealed new shades of darkness, and Centuries of August expresses anxiety, panic, rage, fear, isolation, in every one of those shades – as long as it’s black.

It’s a low, ominous synth drone that brings fear chords like creeping mist in a graveyard that marks the stealthy arrival of ‘Ripe for Solitude, Exhausted by Life’ – before all hues of murky black metal hell break loose. It’s a thunderous tempest of the darkest, densest noise, pounding hard and fast, before eventually dissipating once more into to quiet clouds of synth.

‘The Breezes Bought by Dejected Lutes’ is by no means the Elizabethan romantic piece the title suggests, but a savage blast of bleak and brutal mid-range sludge. There are drums, guitars, and vocals in the mix somewhere, but everything is a grimy blur and it’s impossible to identify anything distinctly.

Quavering dark ambience cast shadowy shades of gloom over the opening moments of ‘This Lamentable Autumn’; a picked lead guitar line adds a rich, brooding atmosphere, and then there’s everything else, coughed up from the very bowels of hell, a swirling sonic fog that goes beyond pea soup to the consistency of treacle, and wading through the barren soundscape for sic and a half minutes almost precisely recreates the experience of the last eight months in sound, before eight-minute closer ‘Under the Lowering Sky’ bulldozes in with cranium-crushing density.

That Centuries of August takes the lo-fi production values of the genre to its more extreme limits is integral to its appeal: the fact it’s so murky as to border on the frustrating is a source of power here, accentuating the oppressive density of the compositions to a level of intensity that hurts. But it’s the kind of pain that’s the perfect mirror, reflecting the conflicting nature of time, amplified by the anguish of living in the now.

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Mr. Bungle, who recently released their first album in over two decades, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (Ipecac Recordings), have partnered with acclaimed Director Derek Cianfrance (“The Place Beyond The Pines,” “Blue Valentine”) for the band’s “Sudden Death” video.

"If you lived in Lakewood, Colorado, during the early 1990s, there’s a slim chance you would have seen and heard a 16 -year-old boy driving slowly around town in a white, 1974 Mustang II, with his windows rolled down, disrupting the neighborhood by blaring the music of Mr. Bungle. That 16-year-old kid was me, and that music that I listened to, over and over and over again, set the bar for my life as an artist,” explained Cianfrance. “So, 30 years later, when I got a call from Mike Patton asking me to direct a music video for one of the songs on their new album, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, I questioned whether my life was really a dream… I informed Mike that I had never directed a music video before, but he wasn’t dissuaded. I listened to the album and asked if I could work with the song “Sudden Death.” It reminded me of the feelings of angst I carried throughout my youth while growing up in the shadow of a looming, forbidding thermonuclear war. I decided I could make a short film (well, not so short – the song is almost 8 min!) about these fears that haunted me. I was also interested in meditating on the theme of desensitization in modern society, where citizens are gradually and systemically numbed to the possibility of cataclysmic consequences. Since the song was written in the mid-‘80s, I determined that the video should feel like it was made during that time and imagined it as some sort of rediscovered relic. Shooting during a global pandemic proved a fitting backdrop to the malaise of the song. It also presented a unique challenge as I was too nervous to work with actors – so I had to come up with another solution. making this video with a small team of trusted collaborators, and working with my life-long heroes, was nothing short of a total dream come true."

Watch the video here:

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Corrupt Moral Altar who feature Napalm Death live guitarist John Cooke have shared the video for the nicely titled track Maximum Bastardry’ which you can watch now.

After years of being associated with that one band from the 60s you might have heard of, Liverpool has done its level best in the past decade to be a hotbed for filthy, nasty riffs, rapid, crushing blast-beats and fuck-you vocals; and Corrupt Moral Altar are one of the leading names in that movement, merging the abrasive sensibilities of  the heavy spectrum into a head-pounding cacophony of pure aural hurt.  

Gliding effortlessly between the jarring aggression of the heaviest of grind and sludge to those infectiously punky hooks, their two full lengths, 2014’s ‘Mechanical Tides’ on Season of Mist and 2017’s self-released ‘Eunoia’, barb their way into your brain stem and don’t leave your head no matter how hard you pull. You’ll be lucky if your neck stays in one piece when Corrupt Moral Altar are assaulting your eardrums.   

With new EP ‘Patiently Waiting For Wonderful Things’ set for release on 27th November (APF Records), the remaining months of 2020 are going to get a bit more brutal round these parts as Corrupt Moral Altar look to cave your skull in.

Vocalist Chris Reese comments on the video for new single ‘Maximum Bastardry’,

"Here it is, the contingency plan to what was originally going to be a 4k, 3D, multihundred pound production with more explosions and celebrity cameos than you could be bothered to say "hey, that wasn’t Kenneth Choi" at.

Instead you get this grotty DIY effort as Liverpool was recently banned from having any fun. It’s more fitting really, as this track is about the unsustainable lifestyle of someone getting wrecked every night. There can be a romanticism about drinking and drug culture, but this track explores the fact they know they are a terrible bastard, that people get them fucked up to gain amusement from the resulting behaviour and they are aware that ultimately, they’re fucking up their own life.

Live in the moment, seize the day… I say Maximum Bastardry.”

Watch the video now:

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APF Records – 27th November 2020

James Wells

Sometimes, there’s just no substitute for a full-tilt, balls-out, gut-churning sludgy grindcore for providing that release. There’s something strangely soothing in the relentless blastbeats, the mangled-to-fuck guitar attack, the guttural growls of pain, anguish, and all-out fury. Corrupt Moral Altar get catharsis, channelling every last ounce of rage into fast and furious sonic blitzkriegs, and three years on from their second album, Eunoia, this five-track EP suggests they’ve distilled and bottled three years of fury into seventeen minutes of brutality.

For the most part, it’s pretty much business as usual, in that everything is a pulverizing blast whereby everything thunders and pounds away at a hundred miles an hour, each song leaving you feeling like you’ve been used as a punching speedbag for three and a half minutes. Five songs may not sound like much, but when punishment is delivered at this pace, and with this much force, it’s exhausting. You only have to hope that ‘Cathedral of Porn’ isn’t intended as a tune to wank to.

The intro to ‘Spirit Breaker’ marks a distinct change in tone and tempo, with chiming, post-rocky guitar, before, perhaps inevitably, it gets grimy and nasty and completely full-on. There’s a grand swathe of semi-choral vocals which ring out over the punishing double-pedal drumming and heavy-grind guitars, and it’s a surprising but rather moving shift, and it closes in a more contemplative that returns to the atmosphere of the opening. It’s by no means wimpy, but does abundantly demonstrate that CMA are far more than one-dimensional rage-merchants.

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Divide and Dissolve members Takiaya Reed (saxophone, guitar, live effects/ (Black & Tsalagi [Cherokee]) and Sylvie Nehill (drums, live effects/ (Māori) are very excited to announce the signing to Invada Records.

Today they release their new single and video for “We Are Really Worried About You”, from their forthcoming album Gas Lit,  which is produced by Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and set for release in late January 2021.

Watch the video here:

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About the new single, Divide and Dissolve comment:

‘We Are really worried about you’ is a call to transformation and freedom. This song and video seek to undermine and destroy the white supremacist colonial framework. We are weaving together our fight for Indigenous Sovereignty, Black and Indigenous Liberation, Water, Earth, and Indigenous land given back. Decolonise now.

At the start of the song, Takiaya’s formidable saxophone sound resonates strikingly like a siren song, beautiful with an undertone of danger. This gives way to a sudden surge of crushing percussion courtesy of Sylvie, and heavy guitar riffs, revealing the magnitude of their exhilarating multidimensional sonic, and powerful expression of their message.

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Photo credit: Billy Eyers

Cruel Nature Recordings – 2nd October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

If ever a band’s name perfectly encapsulated their sound, it has to be Lump Hammer. The Tyneside trio go all-out on sludgy sonic bludgeoning. Similarly, Beast lives up to its name, with nine tracks and a running time of one hour, two minutes and 48 seconds, it’s a monster of epic proportions, and man, it’s fucking ugly.

‘Alarm’ sounds the album’s arrival in the dankest, grimiest of fashions. A downtuned chord, dense and dirty tears from the speakers gradually picking up pace to become a proper riff, before everything gets truly fucked-up and mangled, as if the mixing desk was suddenly buried in a landslide. It sets the bleak, monotonous tone perfectly.

If you’re after variety, you’ll be disappointed: Lump Hammer’s approach to songwriting consists of taking a simple riff and driving away at it until they stop. Sometimes, it’s a long time till they stop, and sometimes it’s a very long time. The eleven-and-a-half minute closer, ‘Gravy (Beef)’ crawls into the space between Sunn O))) and Earth. Each chord is a whirling vortex of overdrive, its colossal density and mass utterly crushing. The pace is very much in the mid-to-low tempo range, accentuating the monstrous weight of the music. And there are probably words, but mostly Watts’ vocals are indecipherable, elongated guttural growls.

There are some quieter, more subtle moments, as evidenced by the first half of the gloomy nine-minute ‘Where’, which carves a trough of claustrophobic isolation – but it’s all just a protracted build-up to the next megalithic deluge of noise.

With Beast, Lump Hammer continue the trajectory of their two previous outings, the eponymous EP from 2017 and February’s split album with Bodies on Everest: you wouldn’t really call it an evolution, beyond the fact that this time they’ve gone one louder, and over the duration of a full-length outing, the cumulative effect of their relentless grinding trudgery achieves optimum impact. Beast is blunt forced trauma manifested in sound.

Beast is their first album for Cruel Nature and is available on 2 October as a limited-edition cassette and digital download, and will be released on CD by Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings. The release coincides with the band’s performance at Tusk Virtual 2020 online festival. It’s available to order from today, but you can stream it EXCLUSIVELY in its entirely now, here:

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28th August 2020

James Wells

If a band can’t sell itself up, what hope have they for anyone else? So fair play to Horrible Youth, who pitch themselves as ‘an Icelandic five-piece sludge and grunge band that sprang to life in Oslo in 2016 and quietly recorded their stunning debut, Wounds Bleed.’

And you know what? It is stunning. ‘Monkeys’, the album first track is a low-tempo grunger that blends Nirvana and Metallica and ultimately comes on like Melvins – and if you’re going to for sludge and grunge, Melvins is the band against which any other is going to be judged.

The songs on Wounds Bleed are concise (the majority being under four minutes) and built around simple repetitive riffs cranked out with a big, overdriven guitar, and favouring the mid to lower ends of the EQ spectrum for a dense, murky sound. Only the cymbals crash through the

Single cut ‘Blissful Tropes’ brings a psych twist to the lumbering riffery, and it’s got hooks and weight in equal measure (it’s hardly a pop tune, but there’s a sinewy lead guitar behind the shouting), making it a standout on what is, undeniably, a really solid album.

It sure as hell ain’t soft or gentle, and doesn’t do the cliché ‘mellow’ track at the end of side one or anything, instead slinging riff after riff, with the rawness of Tad at their best. ‘Serve the Plague’ hits a particularly hefty, low-slung, goth-doom groove, and the tempo picking up around halfway through to thrash out a full-throttle attack.

Combining density and intensity, and packing a megalithic dose of angst, Wounds Bleed distils the sound of 1994 and turns the volume up to eleven, and the result is something special.

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Rock is Hell Records – July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

At the risk of repetition, there are no two ways about it: these are desperate times. No, not unprecedented. Desperate, dire, and fucked-up. The liner notes to BUG’s latest offering, Nunc finis offer a fair summary:

‘Global warming. Trump. Corona virus. New normal. We are living in interesting times. It is one minute before midnight on the doomsday watch. Nunc finis means end of time, end times or end now. And if you buy the ticket, you gonna take the ride.’

Fucked-up times require some fucked-up heavy shit by way of a soundtrack, and BUG bring it in spades here. I for one am immensely grateful: I’ve found myself frequently returning to Calamitas, and Nunc finis brings the same blend of familiar noise rock tropes and uniqueness, with jarring riffs, sludgy low-end and crazed, gruff-throated vocals. Above all, BUG know how to create tension through music, to articulate that tightening of the chest, evoke that clenching of the jaw, the grinding of the teeth.

The opening salvoes leave no doubt that this is a dark album reflecting darkness back in on itself, a tumultuous tempest of disaffection and (internal) conflict. ‘Happy Pills’ kicks off in pretty savage style, a hell-for-leather raging blast of overdriven guitars and angled vocals. You can barely make out a word, but then, the delivery communicates the sentiment, the manic fury. ‘Hell is Empty’ drops down several shades darker toward sludgy doom territory, before ‘Lost Soul’ takes a more conventionally noise-rock turn. It also provides the first softer moments, as chiming guitars effect a more ponderous perspective before exploding into a ragged riff. Exploiting the quiet / loud dynamic, it’s a classic slow-burner that builds to a killer climax.

‘Leftovers’ is a standout by virtue of its sheer brutality, while the seven-minute closer, ‘Hass gegen Rechts’ is positively schizophrenic, switching between a strolling vaudeville waltz and volcanic, earth-shattering blasts of noise, and is everything the album represents distilled into a single gut-wrenching track. It’s intense, alright.

Jolting riffs and stop-start noodles define the structures, to bewildering, dizzying effect: it’s not a regular bludgeoning, but successive left / right hooks, followed by an upper-cut, a headbutt, and a knee in the nuts for good measure. It’s heavy, hard, harrowing, and, ultimately physically and emotionally draining – just as it should be.

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Cruel Nature Records – 9th March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Cruel Nature clearly aren’t going for a major cash-in with this release, a 12-years-after-the-fact album containing the final recordings of a band who, while building a cult national following during their existence between 2002 and 2008, were predominantly a local phenomenon in their stomping grounds around Gateshead. Which means you may be forgiven for not being entirely au fait with Marzuraan and their work, of if you haven’t been o the edge of your seat and dripping with anticipation for this limited-to-75-copes cassette compendium.

For those not up to speed (and I’ll include myself here), the potted history of Marzuraan is that they started out as the duo of Pete Burn (guitar) and Lee Stokoe (Culver) (bass) before evolving into a full band with the introduction of Rob Woodcock (drums) and Stu Ellen (voice). ‘Taking their cue from bands such as Melvins; Black Flag; Harvey Milk; Earth; Godflesh and Loop, they soon cemented themselves as a pivotal band in the North East’s burgeoning Drone-rock / Trudge-core scene. Revered locally with a strong cult following nationally, they released 3 studio albums, appeared on countless compilations and split records influencing bands such as Bong and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, before disbanding in 2008’. The title, therefore, is on point and self-aware to the max. But t’s never too late, right?

The recordings here – apart from two tracks which featured on an obscure compilation and split 7” back in the day – represent their final cuts, dating back to 2005 and 2006, and they’ve lain neglected in the proverbial vaults ever since.

But if anything, the timing couldn’t be better: what goes around comes around, and heavy music is very much enjoying a renaissance right now, and the north-east scene is also thriving thanks to various acts associated with microlabels represented by Cruel nature and Panurus Recordings.

It’s the seven-minute ‘Morphine Waterfall’ from the Mare Nero compilation that introduces the release, and it’s a dislocated, angular dirge of a tune that plods and trudges disconsolately through barren territory that alludes to early Swans and 90s Touch and Go, along with peer obscuritants like Oil Seed Rape and Zoopsia: it’s grunge distilled and chilled to sub-zero and as it builds toward the end, the guitars become increasingly discordant, while the snarling, rapping vocal becomes increasingly desperate.

It’s Tar and Girls Against Boys that come to mind through the low-end murk of the chunky riff grind of ‘Golden Roman’, and everything is there for a killer tune but the recording, despite having been remastered last year prior to release. It’s as muddy as hell. It doesn’t actually detract, for what I’s worth, and in many ways is integral to the gritty, lo-fi charm.

It very much sets the level: ‘Muckbucket’ and ‘Blowin’ Cool Breeze’ are built around thumping, repetitive riffs, but the guitars are trebly and skew off at divergent angles.

The final track, ‘Moneybox’, which previously featured on a record split with SINK is a doomy trudge that pushes the influence of early Melvins to the fore as it crawls in a sea of howling feedback and a 23bpm percussive trudge that’s paired with a gut-quiveringly downtuned bass. It’s ace. If you can cope with infinite suspense between drum beats and the striking of a single chord, that is.

Ten Years Too Late shows that Marzuraan were both a band of their time, and a band ahead of their time, sounding utterly contemporary now. Maybe it’s time for a reunion…

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Panurus Productions – 18th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

WHELM
verb
past tense: whelmed; past participle: whelmed
engulf, submerge, or bury.
"a swimmer whelmed in a raging storm"
well up or flow.
"the brook whelmed up from its source"

It’s funny: I’d never really considered the true meaning of ‘whelmed’, and I’ve simply used it as a blank space between under- and over- and in some vague and misguided attempt to be amusing on occasions. But the definition provides the preface to the accompanying text for this split release featuring two spectacularly abstruse purveyors of gnarly noise, the latter of the two acts featuring Panurus head honcho (and indeed solo honcho) James Watts with grunts and growls.

The moment I clapped eyes on the name Bodies on Everest it lodged in my brain s one of the best band names going. There are thought to be currently around 200 unrecovered bodies on the world’s highest mountain, and it doesn’t take much searching of the Internets to find a library of images of frozen corpses. As such, the name isn’t only gruesome but highly visual in its connotations. And it’s also incredibly fitting:

Talk about a mammoth build… BoE’s first track, ‘My Mother in the Mountains Affects My Gym Coat at Work’ is a sprawling twenty-minute behemoth that starts gently, atmospherically, musically, with a strolling bass and takes its time to swell into the blistering, raging racket it winds up as, first growing in volume before ultimately being buried beneath the most agonising deluge of extraneous noise. And it’s a glorious tsunami of noise that they bring, with the vocals – and there aren’t many – howled, anguished – buried in the wall of noise as screaming feedback howls over the thunderous bass – it’s around twelve minutes in that I realise that said bassline has maybe only two notes – that grows evermore agitated. And in the end it all collapses into a churning squall of feedback and contact hum.

‘Can Ghosts See Dogs’ brings muffled samples of dialogue into the mix before bringing the gnarly noise centres around a low-slung bass churning out a repetitive groove, over which there’s some psychotic yelling, and‘(Yes)’ follows a similar format, but places the emphasis on loping rums, at least until the bowel-shaking bass loop slithers in at half speed and the percussion recedes.

Th fifteen-minute ‘Kicking my Landlord’ Head In’ goes punky postpunk grind groove while at the same time not exactly deviating from the formula, and it’s every bit as brutal as the title suggests, calling to mind Head of David’s HODICA racketfest.

Lump hammer aren’t a band who provide calm or contrast, serving up five tumultuous compositions built on gut-churning noise. Where do you take such a brutal, squalling grind of bass and drums paired with roaring vocal that veers between growling guttural and howling demonic throat-ruining screams? There’s no answer, really. Lump Hammer are also appropriately named, delivering a brutal bludgeoning in lieu of anything tuneful. The bass dominates the sludge mess, and it is a mess, an overloaded deluge of distortion from which it’s difficult to decipher, well, anything much.

‘Pigfish’ is the first, and clocks in at under three squalling minutes, before they settle into the six- or seven-minute zone. Each track is a lumbering sludgefest, tortured and torturous. Yes, it is all unintelligible raw-throated howling against a backdrop of rumbling bass, crashing rum and discordant guitars. And that’s everything that’ ace about it.

‘Tired’ pairs things back a looong way, trudging through a sparse space while he crawling ‘Manual Labour’ pounds away at a crawl that lands between early Swans and early Godflesh, with a dash of early Pitchshifer thrown in. It’s heavy, for sure.

Closer ‘FFS’ stretches the underlying formula out for almost eighteen minutes. Amidst the bass / guitar sludge that sounds like the grind and scrape of earthworks and some vocals where there are almost decipherable words. Almost. It’s a truly purgatorial noise and fifteen minutes feels like forever at 35 BPM.

This is dingy, dirgy, heavy, and utterly punishing. As such it may be a perverse pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.

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