Knee Deep In Sludge
There are so many varieties of styles to be found when wading through the sludge, but what’s the grimiest sludge out there? Take a dip in the slime pool and discover some newer acts that may not be on your radar.
There’s a lot to like if you’re into sludge. Bands like Crowbar, Mastodon, High On Fire, and Kylesa scratch a certain itch and because they draw from metal, hardcore, doom, prog, they’re accessible to wide variety of listeners. While I enjoy the aforementioned artists quite a bit, I need another layer of filth. I need to feel like I just dove into a pool of muck. Everything about it has to be dirty, repulsive, abrasive, loud, noisy, filled with venom and hatred so I’ll never feel clean again. So what exactly am I looking for? A few specific things:
- Screamed or shouted vocals with complete disregard for melody.
- Go easy on the doom, keep the tempos a little more upbeat.
- Keep it short and to the point. Don’t build up to the exciting moments, just get right to it.
- The guitars need to be thick, beefy and tuned down so it sounds like a god damn mudslide.
Now that my sludge fetish has been established, here’s some bands that bring heaps of that toxic good stuff:
Dead Again from Vancouver,B.C. are probably most comparable to Gaza in that they don’t adhere strictly to sludge; they combine sludge, doom, hardcore, and grindcore in their relentless assault on the eardrums. But it’s their sludgy elements that make them stand out the most. The beauty of it all is that the sludginess has some subtle hints of NOLA twang nestled within it. “The Sleeper Has Awakened” is the opening track off of their debut album Occultus Lake and it features a simple yet hypnotic riff that carries most of the song. The vocals are of the deep shouted from the gut variety and they add to the intensity along with some distorted bass and pounding drums. Despite it’s simplicity, it is infectious and grabs you on the first listen. I find myself turning this track on quite frequently just because the opening riff is so catchy and infectious. Other standout tracks include “Chestburster” and my other favorite is “Torn Mouth” which ends with a blues laced breakdown that is loaded with energy.
Don’t stop there because Dead Again also released a 3 song EP last year called Space Basement which showcases their evolution. The song “Blood Rites” which closes out the EP is another one of those songs that makes use of repetitive riffing but the collective efforts of the entire band enable them to carry one riff through the entire song while still keeping a listener engaged. Get killed, get resurrected then get Dead Again!
When writing about sludge, it would be considered a crime to not include a band from New Orleans, LA. You need to know about Gristnam, one of the newest bands in the City of Sludge. The first thing you’ll notice upon hearing them is that the vocals bear a resemblance to Soilent Green’s Ben Falgoust. Likewise, the music actually sounds like a more stripped down version of Soilent Green, less technical with an extra helping of dirt and grit. Sure they deploy the blast beats and death metal riffs but it’s those bayou induced heaps of sludge that produce the oil that runs the engine. I don’t know what it is about NOLA but they certainly have a track record for puking out some of the unhealthiest music out there. Don’t be shocked if you see these guys start to gain some notoriety beyond their native surroundings. Gristnam can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of them.
France is fast becoming my go-to source of quality music. Bands like Anorak, Stuntman and Love Sex Machine deliver the goods on many levels. Add Cowards to the list of groups from Eiffel Tower Land that will absolutely crush you. These guys play some sludgy blackened hardcore that dredges up terrible feelings. The vocals are screamed as if someone sandpapered the singer’s esophagus as the rest of the band scrapes off your skin with feedback laden riffs that are covered in dissonance. Rise To Infamy was released earlier this year and combines all the previously mentioned elements to craft an album that bludgeons you, robs of you of all your dignity, lifts you back up, tells you everything is going to be ok and then does it to you again. Man up or woman up and listen to Cowards below.
How about some new stuff to bang your eardrums? Loathe from Nightslug is up to the task if you are open to it. This particular slug has some serious backbone. If you tried pouring salt on it, the thing would just enlarge and create more slime than it already has gushing from its pores. The best way to describe these guys would be if Indian took Nirvana and dragged them into a cesspit then spit them back out. The result is some vile sludge n’ roll that takes dirty and filthy recordings to a whole new level. Hearing this makes you feel as if you were being dragged underwater into a body of water infested with pond scum; unable to stop your lungs from being filled with all the grime that is taking up real estate within your insides. I’d like to borrow some words from the always colorful Dayum Drops with his use of #MeatGameProper and award these guys with the hashtag of #SludgeGameProper. Check out the video for “Loathe” below to get a sense of what I’m talking about. Then you can head over and visit the fine folks at Cvlt Nation and stream the entire album to immerse yourself into this next level of contaminated goodness. Loathe comes out June 9th so prepare your radiation suit for battle.
What do you get when you put the word “hog” in front of Slayer? The answer is not an oink themed Slayer cover band but these guys do Reign In Sludge. The new album Defacer from The UK’s Hogslayer will have you smashing your fists against the pavement with their burly brand of sludge. Thus far they’ve only put out this video and have had the song below just chilling out on their bandcamp page for almost a year. The two songs are plenty to get excited about as Hogslayer specialize in long plodding riffs that twist and worm their way into your subconscious. They don’t offer much in terms of switching up the tempos but they make up for it by pummeling you with rock-solid riffs that are backed by a booming rhythm section and an impassioned hardcore vocal delivery. Check this out if you are into earlier Neurosis or Isis. This is the kind of stuff that slowly eats away at your soul.
In the process of writing all this up I discovered that there’s a sub genre of hip hop called grime. I’d like to kindly ask that grime artists pick something else to call their style because “grime” truly belongs to these dirty sludge bands. I did however enjoy this song and video by Ghetts so it wasn’t a total loss.