A Sludgepunk Manifesto
If you were to approach me on the street one day and inform me that you thought that sludge metal does not, in fact, owe large parts of its very existence to punk and hardcore I would probably run away because you’d be a stranger who just ran up to me on the sidewalk and started talking to me about sludge metal. Let’s say, however, that I were someone who remained totally unphased after being accosted by vagabonds on the street. Were that the case and you ran up to me making the aforementioned point I would most likely spit in your eye stalk you for the rest of your days on earth, systemically driving you to the point of insanity by sneaking in rooms after you left them and turning the lights back on something. This may seem to you like an overreaction of sorts- frankly, I’d probably agree with you. However it’s an overreaction I think I’d be pretty justified in. Pretty much any self respecting fan of extreme music is well aware of sludge’s deep-seated punk roots. To celebrate those origins of the genre, here’s an article highlighting some sludge metal albums that really embrace their heritage in the world of punk. Think of it like Alex Haley’s Roots, if instead of confronting racism his goal had been to be pedantic about music online.
Black Flag – My War
I thought it felt very appropriate to start off this whole ordeal with an album that was not only probably the first recorded example of the sludge metal sound, but an album that was also made by one of the 1980’s defining hardcore punk bands. As he would later go on to prove with projects like The End of Silence, lead singer Henry Rollins’ voice fits the “slow and punishing metal” sound exquisitely. This shit is angry, nihilistic, and extremely raw both in production value and emotion. In short, it’s everything sludge metal should be.
Eyehategod – Take as Needed for Pain
If you’re talking about punky punky sludge metal, mentioning this album is nearly as compulsory as mentioning My War. If you like your metal to be misanthropic, nihilistic, or any other word ending with the suffix -ic that implies some kind of negative emotion, this album is pretty much essential listening. This album is covered in blood and bruises and drenched in sweat from that Louisiana heat it grew up in.
Iron Monkey – Our Problem
There are very few albums that better capture the very specific (and very strange) british tough-guy mentality better than Our Problem. The music on this record really just takes musical sadism to a whole new level. This album is just one huge scuzzy bucket of vomit, human intestines, blood and semen.
Dystopia – Human=Garbage
Human=Garbage is some of the most vile, enraged, and political sludge metal ever recorded. Dystopia play a delightfully nasty mix of sludge metal and crust punk that ends up feeling like what I would imagine it feels like to get beat up by a roaming pack of very violent vegans (to whatever extent that’s actually a thing that exists). Even though it’s technically just an E.P. this album really feels like an album with a clear ambition and a fully realized goal.
Outlaw Order – Dragging Down the Enforcer
Music to get beat up to down by the docks with a pair of brass knuckles. Just incredibly grunting, pounding sludge that mixes in a lot of that great chuggy sort of NYHxC sound without straying too far from its NOLA sludge roots. I’m still not really sure why, but for me this album always brings to mind some of the early danish-language Refn films like Bleeder and the Pusher trilogy. This album really is just some beefy, pavement-slamming sludge metal excellency.
Secret Cutter – Secret Cutter
Given their shared hardcore roots, it only makes logical sense that a fusion of grindcore and sludge metal would come about eventually. Pennsylvania band Secret Cutter’s debut album is probably the defining release of the sludgegrind sound, and I’d say pretty deservingly so. This is some relentless and violent sounding music that perfectly mixes the ripping ferocity of grind and the vile vomit-inducing production and sound of sludge metal.