Posts Tagged ‘Sludge’

Exile On Mainstream – 21st April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It begins with a howl of feedback. Of course it does. The sustain continues through the opening power chords: doomy, slow, before it all comes crashing in, trudging tempo and gut-churningly downtuned.

Obelyskkh’s fourth album isn’t so much about surprises, but about continuing – and extending – the trajectory of its predecessors, albeit with a greater emphasis on groove. Not that this is an album you can dance to: it’s very much one to slow headbang to. The press release draws attention to the fact that the album’s title ‘evokes one of H. P. Lovecraft’s iconic poems, providing inspiration for the album’s lyrical content and the artwork for The Providence. Another dimension to the album is illustrated almost perfectly by French revolutionist Victor Hugo: “Above all, you can believe in Providence in either of two ways, either as thirst believes in the orange, or as the ass believes in the whip.” The band lived by this message throughout their uphill battle to complete the record.’

It’s taken them four years, and The Providence feels like four years’ anguish and slog distilled into six immense pieces. The title track, which opens the set, is twelve minutes long. It’s not pretentious, but heavy with portent: this is a vast doomscape of an album, dominated by some colossal guitar riffery, propelled by a juggernaut of a rhythm section.

Things get a bit progressive folk-metal in the middle of ‘Raving Ones,’ but when the riff hits its stride, it’s a throbbing, driving rush. Elsewhere, ‘Northern Lights’ veers toward classic, vintage horror, with a deluge of cataclysmic guitars burning a purgatorial furrow on the scale of the Grand Canyon. And just when the thick distortion threatens to burn out the eardrums, a shift toward upper frequency overload provides the punishing attack needed to complete the abominable mission. The fourteen-minute ‘NYX’ stands as the album’s centrepiece, and is a classic slab of thunderous, sludgy doom metal. Over the course of a succession of passages, it grinds its way to a punishing critical mass, with velocity consumed by density.

Clocking in at under six minutes, ‘Aeons of Iconoclasm’ feels almost throwaway in its brevity. Fear chords weave and waft almost subliminally, and it feels at first like a mere interlude, but then the gates of hell open and every screaming demon ever known tears down from the blackest of skies.

In contrast, the slow, but so, so, dense guitar overload of ‘Marzanna’ feels like a gentle wind-down, although at over nine and a half minutes of roaring thunder and groaning, droning, slowed riffage and mangled vocals that squeeze Sabbath through a Melvins filter it’s hardly some kind of loungecore fluff.

Everything about The Providence is immense. This is heavyweight, it’s doomy metal exactly the way it should be.

 

 

Obelyskkh – The Providence

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Heavy Baby Records – 21st January 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Ok, so I’m not one to judge a record by its cover, but obviously there’s a lot to be said for packaging music in – or with – cover art which reflects the contents in some way. Heavy Baby Sea Slugs’ new offering, the Teenage Graveyard Party EP has artwork which says ‘sixteen minutes of raw, full-tilt sludge-metal racket’, and funnily enough, that’s precisely what it delivers (as one might reasonably expect from a band who previously released an album entitled Fistula Missile and who seemingly enjoy considerably more success in Japan and Taiwan than at home in Texas).

‘King Midas of Shit’ launches the EP with a savage deluge of nasty, gnarly noise, piledriving in at a hundred miles an hour. Talk about a sonic slap round the chops! It’s a frantic, frenetic and stubbornly unpolished aural assault which spits and snarls and spews in all directions.

The title track slows the pace and actually offer some semblance of a tune, with some proper singing and everything – at least until about halfway through when the band put their collective pedal to the metal and thrash their way senseless to the end. Don’t expect any cuddles from the bass-led thunder of ‘Pit Bait’, either. It comes on like a Motorhead 45 being played at 33.

The six-minute closer, ‘Zero-One’ really brings the grind with a downtuned, gut-churning trudge that’s somewhere between early Swans and early Melvins. It’s a gruelling dirge which makes no real attempt to get going, and instead spends is time making threats, with slow, heavy drums, scrawling feedback and yawning bass drone. It’s crushingly heavy, and feels like the soundtrack to an eternity in purgatory.

It may only be sixteen minutes in duration, but Teenage Graveyard Party is a gloriously unpleasant, dirty, mangled mess of noise. Party on, dudes.

 

Heavy Baby Sea Slugs – Teenage Graveyard Party

Fancy some low-slung, tweaked-up, bass-heavy stoner rock for the weekend?

We recommend ‘Without’ by Ex People ‘cause it’s ruddy fucking mint. and can’t wait for the album due later in the year.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s the hottest, or second-hottest, night of the year so far, with temperatures teetering at the top of the twenties. I managed to knock off work early to get the train over from York to Leeds in order to conduct an interview before the show, and having managed to chill with a pint in the North Bar for half an hour before the gig, I’m now back underground in the small, dark, box venue that is The Key Club, trying hard to make my £4.20 330ml bottle of Punk IPA last more than five minutes while I sweat my tits off and wait for the first of tonight’s three bands, By Any Means.

Sporting beards, vests, tattoos, and knee-length shorts, the Belfast band crash in hard. Their front man may strongly resemble Brian Blessed, but I suspect he’d be more likely to crush Flash’s oesophagus with his bare hands than proudly declare him to be alive. They crank out a set of intense, dense, throbbing metal and these no shortage of chug ‘n’ grind(core) in their meaty riff-driven tracks.

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By Any Means

Next up, Stoneghost, sporting beards, vests, tattoos, and knee-length shorts take to the stage with a holler of “Leeeeeds! How the fuck is everyone?” Everyone is fucking melting, as it happens, and the relatively restrained response is by no means an indication of a lack of appreciation. In comparison to By Any Means, Stoneghost are sonically denser, the guitar lines more technical, the drums more frenetic, the sound more brutal, and the front man more bullish. He’s got a mean look, and I certainly wouldn’t mess with him. But for all the thunder and aggression, they’ve got some monster choruses, and they earn themselves a one-man slam-dancing moshpit for their efforts.

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Stoneghost

Raging Speedhorn may be purveyors of gnarly sludge metal, but they’re certainly not uncivilised: drummer Gordon Morrison pours beer from bottles into (perspex) glasses before they play. After an inter-band playlist that featured, amongst others, Fudge Tunnel, they walk on to ‘The Heat is On’ by Glen Frey, and yes, the compact basement venue is fucking boiling. With the stage drenched in feedback, vocalists John Loughlin and Frank Regan stand, silent, at the front of the stage, simply leaning out toward the crowd, looking menacing, they hold it for a full minute. This is showmanship, and it’s the band’s commitment to the performance element of the show is integral to the live experience. That said, they’re not posers, by any means: in fact, they’re just a bunch of middle-aged guys with beards and tattoos, wearing vests / T-shirts and long shorts, but they give one hundred percent to the music, and the aggression, the brute force with which the songs are played is so genuine it’s scary. Their contrasting styles work well: Loughlin screams maniacally and looks deranged as he charges he stage, while Regan is almost nonchalant and looks like he’s relishing goading the crowd with ‘come on’ hand gestures before he spits and snarls into the mic.

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Raging Speedhorn

They pile in with ‘The Hate Song’ from second album We Will Be Dead Tomorrow, although much of the set focuses on the new album Lost Ritual, which is fair play, and no bad thing given that it’s a riff-led stonker. ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ and ‘Motorhead’ are slammed down early. Delving back to their debut for ‘Redweed’ elicits a strong reaction, and before long there’s a tornado of bodies frothing in front of the stage.

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Raging Speedhorn

One guy who’s filming the set on his mobile has his phone confiscated and starts whinging like a kid about how he wants to show his friends the show. No doubt he’ll be gutted that his footage won’t include the ball-busting climax: they close the set with a pulverising rendition of ‘Thumper’, and still have it in them to return for an encore of ‘Ten of Swords’.

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Raging Spedhorn

The full set – twelve tracks – may have lasted just under an hour, but no-one’s feeling short-changed. In the blistering heat, they’ve delivered a relentless set that shows Raging Speedhorn are as vital now as ever.

Christopher Nosnibor

Given the vast array of microgenres and the broad spread of metal itself, curating a metal festival must be quite a challenge. A number of friends of mine have, in recent years, complained of events leaning too much towards a certain part of the metal spectrum, with an overemphasis on doom or sludge. A lot of credit is therefore due to the organisers of the first Hearth Life event, hosted in one of Leeds’ hottest new underground venues, Chunk. To describe it as intimate would be an understatement. A rehearsal room for arts and music which doubles as a two-room venue, it’s smaller than some living rooms. And yet they’ve managed to host 14 bands representing a huge cross-section of noise from the more extreme end of the scale. And there isn’t a dud act on the bill.

Using the two ‘stages’ to optimum effect, and keeping sets to half an hour or less means the bands are on back-to-back with no more than a few minutes in between, for eight hours straight. But by alternating the faster and slower bands, it’s neither a non-stop frenzy nor a marathon slog through hours of droning doom. That they’d not only got in a decent range of beers, but taken the time to mark up on the price list the vegetarian / vegan friendly beverages, not to mention having food courtesy of local ‘real junk food’ nosh merchants Armley Junk-tion on a pay-what-you-feel basis, all showed an attention to detail and general thoughtfulness you simply don’t find in larger commercial ventures. And most miraculously, the bands ran to time on what was an insanely tight schedule.

I’d seen around a third of the bands on the bill previously, so my expectations were set, at least to an extent. That said, the lineup’s diversity is the key, and discovering Human Certainty more than justified getting down early. Combining heavily chorused / flanged goth guitars with grindcore vocals buried in a fuck-ton of reverb and delay, while the singer battles invisible demons as he charges maniacally to and fro, they’re a unique proposition and a compelling live act.

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Human Certainty

A whole lot less heavy were Beige Palace, and despite not being very metal, it as pleasing to see the young band, making their debut live appearance, receive a warm reception. Not for the last time during the event, I was reminded what an accommodating and thoroughly decent bunch of people attend the events with the most extreme bands. With shades of Young Marble Giants, Beige Palace make sparse-sounding music that’s jarring, dissonant and hints at a clash between early Pram and No Wave angularity.

While the space given to manic full-throttle thrashing was extremely welcome given the current vogue for doom, stoner and sludge, the grindcore acts on the bill felt a bit throwaway in their delivery here: Ona Snap announced themselves as being ‘fucking idiots’ before launching into 20 minutes of frenetic mayhem made up of short violent jolts of noise. They were tight, and went down well, but felt a bit too much like a party band to really pack a punch. Similarly, Famine – who I think are ace, and have seen evolve considerably over the last couple of years or so – seemed more about getting the crowd whipped into a frenzy, and consequent, their set felt more like an excuse to go mental than a serious assault on society. That said, having bemoaned the too-cool-for-school audiences at bigger gigs, they played hard and insanely fast, and it’s good to see this crowd going bonkers with some wild moshing and even crowd surfing in an extremely confined space. A tidal wave of bodies almost threatens to upend the makeshift bar during Horsebastard’s set. There is carnage. It’s good-natured, but carnage nonetheless.

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Famine

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Horsebastard

Ghold, touting new long player PYR are a band on the rise. Having expanded to a three-piece since I last saw them 11 months ago, they’re sounding denser and more layered than before. The drumming is explosive, and there’s a perverse sense of performance, as Oliver Martin plays and sings with his back to the audience, and Aleks Wilson, while forward-facing, hides behind his hair and is hardly conversational. But cultivating this distance between audience and band work well, and adds to the intrigue of a band who trade in pulverizing heavy sludge riffs while also incorporating elements of psychedelia and offering radical changes of tone and pace. Epic sludge workouts are contrasted with fast-paced attacks, although thy always keep the ‘heavy’ cranked up to the max. One-dimensional they aren’t, and in the space of their half-hour set they demonstrate more diversity than some band manage over a whole career. They’ve got some chops, alright, and I’m not talking about Wilson’s monster ‘burns.

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Ghold

The heavy trucker metal of Nottingham monster mofos Moloch bring the noise and a different kind of density. Dark, sludgy and burning with anguish, they embody pained nihilism, they’re unphased when the mic completely cuts out – that or front man Chris is simply too immersed in the thunderous wall of brutal rage he and his cohorts are churning out to make a deal of it. Either way, the sound guy is quick with a replacement and they power on through triumphant.

Palehorse, playing their last Leeds show and penultimate gig in a sixteen-year career, are given an extended, 45-minute slot, which is the day’s punishing highlight. Although not the last band to play (that slot is given to The Afternoon Gentlemen), they’re effectively the headliners. I took no notes during their set, too engrossed in the immense, brutal sound, and too crushed by the clamouring front rows to even consider anything beyond the immediate experience. The event page describes them as ‘noise shitting bass bastards’ (they’ve got two basses, but no guitars), while their bandcamp page heads them as being ‘London Powerviolence’. Call their music what you like, it’s as heavy as fuck. The vast bottom-end is enough to rearrange internal organs, and contrasts with Nikolai Grune’s sharp, seething vocals. But it’s music that’s textured, articulate and powerful beyond mere brute force.

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Palehorse

It’s hard to stumble out of an event like this feeling anything other than elated. Live music is all about escape, release, and the more brutal and cathartic the music, the greater the release, and seeing so many incredible, intense bands in such close proximity is exactly the way it should be. It’s personal, intimate to the point of exclusive, interior. There may have been a few crazies in the crowd, but there were no out-and-out cunts: the vibe was one of camaraderie and companionship, the event a coming together of outsiders and misfits in a celebration of all things outsider and beyond the grasp and cognisance of the mass media and general populace. Let’s hope this is the first of a long run for Hearth Life.

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Shrykull