Written by: Volt Thrower
Old sticky beer gripping the bottom of my shoes. Sweaty dudes bumping into me. The crushing weight of Tatsu Mikami’s bass tone laying waste to my chest cavity. Was it all a dream? The last show I went to in the pre-pandemic times was Church of Misery in February, less than three months ago, but it feels like it's been at least three years. The concept of time of has become a black hole since ~March 13th. Anything prior to that date genuinely feels like it's beyond the grasp of memory or record, i.e. Time Immemorial.
We’re in unprecedented times, people feel hopeless. Canadian sludgers Heron build atmosphere on the back of hopelessness, and deliver perhaps the most relevant release of 2020.
Written by: Continuous Thunder
If you told me at the beginning of the year that one of the best sludge metal albums I’d hear in 2020 would come from two Japanese girls… I’d lean in closer and ask you to tell me more. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, when women are involved in making hard rock and metal on the doomy side of things, it tends to be pretty damn good more often than not. Some of my favorite albums from the past couple of years have been from bands like Windhand, Castle, and Electric Citizen. And this year we’ve already had great albums from Konvent and Lucifer. Well, get ready to add BlackLab to the pile.
As mentioned, BlackLab is a doom and sludge duo from Japan, made up of guitarist and vocalist Yuko Morino and drummer Chia Shiraishi. Abyss is their second album. Being a duo in the doom metal world requires some sonic creativity to get your sound sufficiently heavy and thick. I’m not sure what witchcraft Morino has employed, but her guitar tone is freakin’ huge! And these riffs aren’t just fuzzy, they’re downright filthy. We’re talking trve slvdge, Houdini-era Melvins levels of nasty. Along with down-tuning, a sub-octave can be heard filling out the bottom end. I don’t know if Morino dubbed in a bass guitar or if she split her signal into an octave pedal, but there is certainly no lack of low end here. She’s also the kind of guitarist who uses feedback to her advantage.
After long last, we slumbering peasantry arise, back with another edition of our neglected Sleeping Village Sampler.
For those of you not in the know, this is our (regrettably infrequent) column wherein we review, in brief, two of the bands that have escaped the clutches of a full length writeup. There's a lot of underground stuff wailing incessantly from the ol' inbox, and, as this particular scribe has made a concerted effort as of late to listen to bands who don't necessarily benefit from label support, the bigger releases have kinda been getting the short end of the stick. Rather than devoting the time, then, to reviewing these two albums in full, I'll just throw out my general thoughts and we can call it a day. Sound good? Good.
Here’s a factoid our eagle-eyed archivist doesn’t expect anyone to recall: back in the primordial days of this site, we published a track review of the delightfully entitled “Obstrinxerit,” from a Albuquerque-dwelling sludge duo named Sword Horse. It made an impression on me then--to quote: “‘Obstrinxerit’ maintains a free-flowing ambiance, an irresistible pull into a cave that is too small. In this case, Death doesn’t beckon, so much as leave you with no other option.” Chilling stuff.
Given a certain enamorment with this track, as well as a healthy appreciation for their prior work, I was suitably intrigued by the release of a self-titled EP way back in August of last year. I listened to the damn thing quite frequently, a little sludge-me-up between other releases. Despite an intent to put pen to paper and scratch out a review, I simply...didn’t. And so the apology tour continues. I arise today from an apparent Rip Van Winkle situation to inform you that, unlike yours truly, you really shouldn’t look this gift Sword Horse in the mouth.
Written by: Carlos Balmaceda
Orphans of Doom is a Kansas City based metal band that offers a refreshing mix of familiar genres. Combining elements of thrash, sludge, and a decent coating of crossover, has helped them out a stamp on their local and regional scene. The band formed in the summer of 2016 and consist of Jeremy Isaacson (Bass/Vocals), Bryan Sedey (Guitar), Greg Koelling (Drums) and has since released released two full length albums. Their first album, Strange Worlds/Fierce Gods, came out of the gate hot and made for a strong debut. Strange Worlds/Fierce Gods was an intense ripper that kept your head banging through the entirety of its run time, and is a great foundation for what could be a very strong career in heavy music. The question is, “Does this new album keep that fire rolling?”
After long last, we slumbering peasantry arise from Rip Van Winkle-hood, back with another edition of our neglected Sleeping Village Sampler.
For those of you not in the know, this is our (regrettably infrequent) column wherein we review, in brief, two of the bands that have escaped the clutches of a full length writeup. Usually there is an underlying current, a theme connecting the two. In other words, a method behind the madness. This time, however, all I’ve got is this: both bands featured here today have the word “Serpent” in their name, and they both requested a review on the same damn day. That’s simply too coincidental to neglect, and so here we are. Pull off your boots, pull up a chair, and stay awhile. You may want to check your boots for snakes later on, but that's life.
Written by: Izzy
What does anxiety feel like to you? When your chest tightens up and breathing becomes heavy? Sweat dripping down your neck and your heart beating like a kick drum? Being paralyzed with fear, unable to move, your back becoming heavy and the air around you turning into a thick sludge you can barely drag yourself through? For me, it’s all of the above, because anxiety feels to me like how Body Void sounds.
This Californian drone-punk-sludge-metal-death-crust-doom-core trio creates some of the most viscerally disgusting and hideous sludge in existence, and I have loved them since the second I first heard them. I could go on for hours about my infatuation with their music. However, I would be remiss for not mentioning Keeper as well, despite my unfamiliarity with them. These Cali contemporaries provide the perfect companionship to Body Void here, and are one of the few bands with a comparable style, except with an extra blackened edge, partnering flawlessly with Body Void by adding their own flavour to the split.
Guest Post: Carcassbomb (of Noob Heavy)
Experimentation is my magic word… and my safe word. It’s an approach that can really go anywhere, including some dumb places, but Rat King challenge song writing conventions in a far more subtle way that makes for an interesting listen without alienating fans of experimented genre in anyway. Previously with their 2016 debut LP Garbage Island they had a similarly experimental take on sludge so it’s interesting to see they have taken their approach into the realm of death/grind, a completely different arena. Here’s the thing though, they fucking pulled it off and in my opinion this release is both a better album and a better representation of their signature craft. There’s been an evolution here that I respect and admire. Vicious Inhumanity will be released Jan 17th via their very own label Within The Mind Records, CD, Vinyl and cassette, so dig in mother fuckers. They’re also giving away CDs to two lucky people, entries close on release day so there’s time.
Take even a cursory glance at the gloriously garish cover art before ye, and this much is exceedingly clear: Long Island's own Gorilla Wizard know how to have a good time. Their debut album, Tales From the Cauldron, is a bombastic and rip-roaring piece o' work, through and through. If you're not in the mood for high-energy fun, this wasn't made with you in mind. Don't really know what else to say.
Chunky grooves and contiguously crunchy riffs rule the roost. You know what I'm talkin' about--the kind of sasquatchian chest-beating riffs that lumber into the swamp and then back out again, dripping and covered in gunk, without a goddamn care in the world.
As much of the album operates according to this simple but effective guitar-driven approach, any tracks I would consider standouts simply apply the formula most egregiously. "Smashosaurus," "Maple Crunch," and "Black and Blue" are perhaps the most memorable moments, and the best introduction to Gorilla Wizard's jubilant brand in general.
Captain Graves isn't a new name 'round these parts. We interviewed this extraterrestrial bringer of destruction (in conjunction with Advent Varic) a few weeks back, and I'll be damned if his vision of apocalyptic planetary demise didn't strike a certain nerve. You see, we Villagers appreciate a good turn of phrase, even if the scribe in question is intent on our inevitable violent expiration.
And so we bequeathed The Captain his very own review column within our humble halls. Herein, he'll be chronicling dark and heavy earthly music that suit his judicial tastes. Our time here is limited...so enjoy these recommendations while you still can.
First up: Texas' own Forebode.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!