Posts Tagged ‘Sludge’

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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New Heavy Sounds – 11th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Cold in Berlin’s evolution has followed a fairly steady but swift arc: having emerged in 2010 with the spiky attack that was Give Me Walls, Rituals of Surrender represents their fourth album. That’s a respectable work rate, and over that time they’ve remained true to their dark, post-punk gothy roots, but have become progressively slower and heavier, the guitars growing sludgier, doomier.

In musical circles, there is always a ‘new strain’ emerging, even if said strain is a revisioning of an older strain. Not so long ago, it was post-punk revivalism, then there was a vintage heavy metal return, which in turn spawned the emergence of a stoner / doom / sludge hybrid. Cold in Berlin, having crashed in on the post-punk tidal wave are now more closely aligned to another more niche strain of the latter, namely colossally heavy female-fronted bands who bring an ethereal and emotive aspect to the sludgy / stoner / heavy template. Is it lazy journalism to bracket Cold in Berlin’s latest offering alongside Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and the last couple of albums by Chelsea Wolfe? Perhaps, but the references are at least instructive in terms of establishing a certain thread of stylistic commonality. But for every similarity, there are equal differences, and Cold in Berlin are most definitely a unique proposition in the way they balance the instrumental heft with Maya’s powerful vocals.

The album gets straight down to business with ‘The Power,’ which prefaced the arrival back in early September, accompanied by an appropriately moody, horror-hinting video. The bass and guitar grate and saw in unison over a slow tribal march. The tension builds and breaks in a landslide to a mammoth chorus.

The nine tracks on Rituals are heavy – plenty heavy – with some killer riffs. But that weight and the overloading overdrive is not at the expense of accessibility: the songs are clearly structured and benefit from strong and defined choruses.

Lyrically, the album is strewn with funereal imagery of death and decay, coffins and caskets, yet somehow manages to avoid cliché. The songs also pour anguish. ‘There is grief that tastes good in your mouth / there is grief that takes years to scrub out / There is darkness buried beneath my skin / there is darkness at the heart of everything’, Maya sings, pained, at the start of ‘Avalanche’ against a sparse sonar-like bass boom and a weeping drone of feedback before the drums and power chords come crashing in with crushing force. Can there be onomatopoeic instrumentation? If so, Cold in Berlin have mastered it, the pulverizing

The ritual aspect of surrender is never far from range: ‘You could string her up / you could string her up her body’s a temple for your love’ Maya sings commandingly on ‘Temples’ against a thunderous grind of heavily distorted guitars. Elsewhere, ‘Monsters’ is tense, intense, and grand, drama radiating from every note, and Rituals of Surrender is outstanding in its consistency.

Blending hefty riffology with full-lunged brooding, Rituals of Surrender sees Cold in Berlin occupy the space between doom and goth, emerging like Sabbath fronted by Siouxsie. And they do it so well: this could well be their definitive album.

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Cold in Beerlin - Rituals

Christopher Nosnibor

And yet again, after a soaking on my way to see Interpol in Leeds a fortnight ago, the heavens open to deliver a truly tropical downpour, a torrent of fair biblical proportions in stepping out of the station. It’s way to wet to have my phone out to sat-nav to the pub I’ve arranged to meet a mate in, so I take hasty refuge in The Scarboro Hotel.

It’s not hyperbole or dramatic scaremongering to say that this is climate change in effect. It’s been stiflingly hot, we’ve experienced high winds – which is why I left my umbrella at home: Poundland brollies and strong gusts don’t go together – and light showers and some flash downpours. But this precipitation isn’t so much a cloudfall as a monsoon, and as frustrating and mood-despoiling the soaking is, the bigger picture is that this is a sign of things to come. JG Ballard’s 1962 post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel The Drowned World is rapidly looking like future reportage rather than speculation.

It’s a good thing I’m heading to Temple of Boom in my drenched state. Live music invariably proves itself to be a mod-lifter, or at least the best conduit to a window of escapism, and never more than a night of full-throttle metal. It’s a genre I’ve come to appreciate almost exponentially over the last decade after spending years completely disinterested and dismissive. The irony that I considered metal somehow juvenile and primitive isn’t lost as I realise I’ve grown to grasp the sheer diversity of the – infinitely fragmented – genre, as well as the benefits of untrammelled catharsis as a form of therapy.

The tip I’d had ahead of the show suggested Vonnis were pedlars of fairly standard grindy thrash, and musically, this is fundamentally true. It’s all in the delivery, and I’m wondering a day on if their front-man’s antics were the result of drunkenness, insanity, or a combination of the two. Their Facebook bio records a history of ‘dislocated shoulders or open leg fractures’ and a ‘disregard for any kind of personal safety’, and they deliver on that. Tonight’s set found this guy piling up (and falling off) monitors, stumbling wildly, stripping from his boiler suit to socks and boxers and ending the set on the flor in front of the stage with his head in a bin. The whole thing was demented, and was a real horrorshow car-crash of a performance – but it was utterly compelling.

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Vonnis

Bismuth are compelling for all the right reasons, bashing out some monumental noise with drums and bass. By which I mean BASS. Arsequaking bass. Head-shredding bass. Immense bass drones that sound like Sunn O))) and Earth circa Earth 2. Simultaneously. Bass channelled through a pedal board the size of a cruise liner to the point it no longer sounds like bass. An age separates the trike of every chord, every explosive, punishing beat. Bismuth grind it out, low, slow and heavy, but with the full frequency spectrum: bass that sounds like a full band lineup with everything up to eleven, or even twelve.

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Bismuth

Tanya Byrne’s vocals range from a delicate and emotionally-charged melodic to full-blooded howl of pain: it’s all integral to Bismuth’s sound and intensity, and the set concludes with Tanya out in the audience, on her knees, shrieking and howling into a wall of feedback. It feels like the purest catharsis, and the entire room is on edge and close to breaking to bring down a devastating finish.

Whereas Bismuth’s sound is textured, detailed, and atmospheric, Moloch go all out for blunt force trauma. Lumbering riffage provides the backdrop to rasping guttural anguish. There’s something about the vocals, which register in the higher regions, and the way they contrast with the shuddering downtuned sludgefest. There’s also the complete lack of pretence or even any real kind of show involved.

“Hiya, we’re Moloch,” says Chris Braddock as he takes the mic. Cue a wail of feedback before everything crashes in and continues to grind away at a gut-churning crawl for the next forty punishing minutes.

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Moloch

With three guitars dominating the six-piece’s instrumentation, Thou have texture and density completely covered. And despite the fact they’ve been going some fourteen years with only two changes to the lineup, they still appear remarkably youthful. The ever-informative Encyclopaedia Metallum locates them in the bracket of ‘Sludge/Drone/Doom Metal’ and lists their lyrical themes as ‘Despair, Revolution, Societal collapse, Death.’ This does nothing to convey the intensity of their albums or the kind of performance they deliver – or, moreover, the nonchalance with which Bryan Funck – wild-eyed and grey-bearded – delivers his velociraptor vocal scream.

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Thou

It should be harrowing, hellish, but is precisely the opposite. To witness a band so finely-honed, channelling everything into a powerful and relentless piledriving assault is a beautiful and uplifting thing: elating, life-affirming. As they thunder through an immaculate set, I find I’m no longer in the room and everyone else has melted away. There is nothing but this moment, in which I find my mind is empty and I am floating, detached, wired into the music alone. Time stops and the sound becomes everything.

New Heavy Sounds – 1st March 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

There aren’t many Welsh-language bands who’ve made much progress beyond the border: Catatonia only really broke through when they switched to English, and they were pedalling accessible indie-pop tunes, not pulverizingly heavy sludgy doom metal.

And so it seems very much against the odds, that the absurdly (and most certainly not mainstream-media-friendly-monikered) Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard broke into chart territory on the release of Yn Ol I Annwn (Welsh for ‘Return To The Underworld’) the third part of the trilogy of albums that began with Noeth Ac Anoeth in 2015 and 2017s Y Proffwyd Dwyll, and is pitched as ‘the final phase of the band’s first intergalactic voyage.’

And ‘intergalactic’ is a fitting description. The band’s intention was to move even further from the standard doom tropes without losing sight of their origins: this involves pulsating, gloopy synths and rippling waves which introduce the album, before a wibbling waft of retro-futuristic analogue wobbles give way to the album’s first megalithic lumbering riffage on ‘The Spaceships of Ezekiel’. It’s every bit as preposterously huge and epic as the title suggests; galactic and of biblical proportions, with fizzing lasers firing left, right, and centre, all framing Jess Balls dreamy, melodic, almost folksy vocals to create something that’s out of this world, but also has clear ties to vintage Hawkwindian space rock.

‘Fata Morgana’ pursues the folksy aspect further, and colours it with picked guitar that’s pure vintage gothy post-punk and wouldn’t sound out of place on a Sisters of Mercy record circa 1984/85 before the power-chords crash in at the mid-point – from which point it builds, and builds, to a sustained crescendo propelled by pounding percussion.

It’s all in the detail on Yn Ol I Annwn. For all the devastating grind, the ribcage-crushing, heart-stopping heaviness, there are layers and details that make it an album to listen to. The nuance doesn’t reduce the force, but simply makes this an album with more points of interest than your average in its field. The spiralling synth incidentals should sound corny but work incredibly well; it’s perhaps because it’s delivered with both conviction and panache, meaning MWWB rise above pretence to drive it home not only sincerely, but artfully.

Significantly, for all the synth and cello, there’s no shortage of repetitive, grinding riffage, with the thirteen-minute ‘Katyusha’ bringing all the overdrive as the band up the pace and really rock out while synthy fireworks blossom and bloom all around. It bleeds into the slow, heavyweight trudge of ‘The Majestic Clockwork’, and the closer, the ten-minute ‘Five Days in the Abyss’ is a full-weight doom crusher of a climax.

With each release, MWWB have broadened the scope of doom, and Yn Ol I Annwn sees them forge another immense expansion, and further solidify their unique place as trailblazing innovators in the genre.

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MWWB

Herod have arisen from the ever- prosperous Swiss music scene. Throughout their young 4 years of presence, they have already shared the stage with such acts as Gojira, Crowbar, The Ocean, Carcass, Obituary, Napalm Death and Voivod – Attesting their repute as the bus boy’s of King Herod, serving up whole sides of rare riffs, disposition, beauty and authority.

Initially the brain child of guitarist Pierre Carroz, 2014 saw Herod’s debut release They were None via Mighty Music and a subsequent European tour. Following the departure of original vocalist David, former THE OCEAN (Precambrian) vocalist Mike Pilat was recruited for follow up album Sombre Dessein.

Pilat also plays guitar and Herod are now furnished with a supplementary layer of musicality to complement both heaviness and soundscape aspects of their palette. CARCASS guitar player Bill Steer makes a guest appearance on ‘Fork Tongue’. Watch the video here:

Sombre Dessein is released on 15th February via Pelagic Records.

Herod will also be touring Europe in March + April with The Ocean:

13/03 – DE, Stuttgart – Im Wizemann

14/03 – CH, Geneva – PTR/ L’Usine

15/03 – FR, Lyon – CCO

16/03 – FR, Toulouse – Rex

17/03 – FR, Marseilles – Les Pennes Mirabeau

18/03 – FR, Colmar – Le Grillen

19/03 – FR, Bethune – Le Poche

20/03 – UK, Birmingham – Mama Roux

21/03 – IR, Limerick – Dolan’s Warehouse

22/03 – IR, Dublin – Voodoo Lounge

23/03 – UK, Glasgow – Audio

24/03 – UK, Leeds – Brudenell Social Club

25/03 – BE, Antwerp – Trix

26/03 – NL, Den Haag – Paard

27/03 – DE, Cologne – Club Volta

28/03 – DE, Leipzig – Werk 2

29/03 – PL, Poznan – U Bazyla

30/03 – DE, Bremen – Tower

31/03 – DE, Hamburg – Logo

02/04 – SE, Stockholm – Fryhuset, Klubben

03/04 – SE, Gothenburg – Tradgarn

06/04 – NO, Stavangar – Folken

07/04 – NO, Hamar – Gregers

08/04 – DK, Copenhagen – Vega

Exile On Mainstream – 22nd February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I hear this a lot, at work, at home. People tell me that I must relax. I disagree, of course. It’s not healthy to get too comfortable. To relax is to be vulnerable. You make yourself vulnerable, you’re open to attack, and also emotions. Who needs any of that? It’s not that sensitivity is undesirable in these times of dehumanised capitalist culture, as much as it’s dangerous, a risk to self-preservation. Taking a cynical view, relaxation and wellbeing are avenues which pave the way to exploitation. No, better maintain a hard exterior even while you’re breaking on the inside. Never relax.

There’s absolutely nothing relaxing about the squeal of feedback and distorted, tortured vocals that shred the speakers in the opening moments of the album’s first cut, ‘Hollywood 2001/Rollrost’. The closest comparison I can draw is to early Whitehouse: shards of treble and humming lower-end feedback provide a brutal, unstructured backdrop to vocals designed to inflict maximum pain.

Things to become overtly rock thereafter, with the grinding sludge riffery of ‘Old Overholt’ bringing maximum gnarly grind. The repetitive, barrelling bass trudges on remorselessly, while thunderous drumming explodes amidst a wall of obliterative guitar noise that’s very much about the texture rather than the tune. Ten minutes later, it bleeds into the title track, which sounds more or less the same, but half as slow again. The bass is so low and murky as to vibrate the bowels. The vocals are warped, distorted, a demonic howl from the pits of fiery hell. But it’s not unbearable; the heavy psychedelic leanings give both a kind of context and bring a certain groove. As whiplash whirls of flange fire in and it transmogrifies into some raging beast that’s half Hawkwind, half Sabbath on Ketamine, samples begin to echo around in the murk, adding further layers of suffocating sound on sound.

And as the album progresses, so the songs get longer and gnarlier, the riffs more cyclical and tightly wound and packed with a greater intensity. By the time they piledrive into the eighteen-minute finale, the volcanic assault of ‘CBD/Herinunder’, the earth has shifted on its axis under the sheer weight of the thunderous riffery, guitars so dense as to have created their own gravitational force.

There’s an agonising eternity between each beat, each driving power-chord, the grainy blast of distortion channelling down and re-emerging as a howl of feedback sustain. And on and on it grinds. And in its own perverse way, with its dense, rich wall of overdrive crawling at a tectonic pace, ‘CBD/Herinunder’ brings a certain cannabinoid comfort. It’s not the stoner mellowness of HTC, but the quiet delivery of a more settled underlying state.

It’s still by no means relaxing, but it is a superlative example of no-messing, slow-churning monster riffing.

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Bellrope

Uneasy listening trio Under have unveiled their new video for latest single ‘Malcontent’.

When asked on the theme behind the song, the band stated: “Andy (Preece – drums, vocals) came up with this suitably grinding, droning riff while bored out of his mind waiting outside a changing room. As we arranged the overall tine, adding Mayo’s signature noise and our usual uneasy rhythmic approach, we tried to accentuate that feeling of anxious horror and discomfort as much as we could. To reflect this feeling I wrote the lyrics to invoke that sickly desperation apparent in anybody hungry for power.

Their new album, Stop Being Naïve, is available now from APF Records.

Under are a trio from Stockport, Greater Manchester. Formed in 2016. Though rooted in the blueprints of Sludge and Doom Metal, their sound is harder to pin down with elements of Prog, Noise and Avant Garde creeping in. Under play with jagged, slow, off kilter riffs that tease the listener into a false sense of security with dark and abstract lyricism evoking a trippy and sinister unease. The trio cite the likes of Swans, Mr. Bungle, The Melvins and Radiohead as prime influences.

Watch the video for ‘Malcontent’ here:

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Under Oct 2018