Sludge Progs the Doom Psychedelicly
Welcome to a new feature (that may or may not return) where we put bands into a smelter and see what kinds of metal come out. Music goes in the fire and four little vials get filled with a pure genre extract.
The rating I associate with each sample is not a quantification of my enjoyment of it. Instead, it’s a classification of how heavily they fit into each sound (Sludge, Prog, Doom, and Psychedelic). No, the percentages are not supposed to add up to 100, each value is independently rated out of 100. It’s all very scientific. Trust me.
First ore sample: Sail / Slumbersong from Hibernacula Records | Extracted: 3 March 2017
Hailing from the southeastern tail of England, Sail is fairly new to the scene but are experienced in the ways of the sludgy riff. Most of the time I talk about sludge, it’s in reference to a murky and dark tone, but Sail’s version is more like sludge made out of confetti. It’s fairly upbeat, gets proggy at times, and the riffs are straight out of the Baroness playbook. The vocals are the high point at times, and the low points at others, which is basically how I feel about Mastodon, so if you have no problem with them, you will be fine here. “The Weight of all Gold”, posted below, is one of the best-executed songs in all regards. Using a riff that dances all over the fretboard and supremely catchy vocal lines, this song is a winner.
In addition to their awesome rock side, they are able to slow things down a bit and dip into the blues. A very emotive tone and tasteful solos help out here, but I also think a different vocal approach might add that killer ingredient that is missing on songs like “Ghosts”. Regardless, it’s exciting to see a young band able to craft such a mature tone. There’s not a whole lot of song structure experimentation throughout Slumbersong, which is something they can always prove later if they continue to stick with some of the progressive elements, but the formula works for this release.
Second ore sample: Forming The Void / Relic from Argonauta Records | Extracted: 17 March 2017
Forming the Void is a Louisiana band making some good fuzzed-out stoner doom with those soaring vocals that are starting to permeate the genre. Its psychedelic nature is constantly present but not overbearing, making it more Sergeant Thunderhoof than Spaceslug. Like Sail, there are also obvious references to the Baroness/Mastodon side of the world as well.
The slow doom pace throughout the album is accompanied by loud and clear vocals that make the trudging not only tolerable but exceptionally pleasurable. “Endless Road” carries you along on a riff that threatens to drop you, but keeps you afloat until the beast of a chorus kicks you to the moon. A few songs pick up the pace a little, but it unfortunately stays a little too consistent throughout. Their grooves are never repetitive, but the similar pacing can be a bit much for someone looking for a more progressive approach. Strangely, they also cover Led Zeppelin‘s “Kashmir”, and it somehow works surprisingly well with their doom undertones.
“Biolazar” premiered on New Noise.
Third ore sample: Hark / Machinations | Extracted: 24 February 2017
I was planning on writing about a different band here, but when I finally got to listening to it, they would have hit 0% on all four measures. Thankfully, our lord and savior Spear published these guys on this week’s Toilet Tuesday. Unfortunately, since I don’t have access to their full album, I’m basing this score off of the one available song on Machinations, and a little bit on their last album Crystalline.
These UK gents are putting out some excellent heavy rock ala Clutch but way more progressive. So like Baroness. Goddamn it. Baroness is just my key reference for everything here today. Sorry. Above all the excellent musicianship is this crystal clear production that hammers every note into your skull. Anyway, I can’t wait to hear this whole thing on Friday.