Tuesday, 12 December 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Drunk In Hell - "Drunk In Hell"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/10/2017
Label: Burning World Records

Drunk In Hell have delivered what is easily the most horrible release of 2017. Seven years of accrued filth and sludge has never sounded so good.

“Drunk In Hell” DD//LP track listing:

1). I’m An Arsehole
2). Sick Sick Sex
3). Bitch Boy
4). I’m Not Laughing
5). Born Sick
6). Chick Flick
7). Gag
8). Walking Abortion

The Review:

It seemed that Drunk In Hell’s debut album was destined to exist only in the realm of myth. Somehow after a gruelling seven year gestation period, the notorious Middlesbrough hellraisers have finally managed to drag this dirty beast into reality.

“I’m An Arsehole” sets out the blueprint for forty minutes of soul-crushing, feedback-soaked monotony. Each track is based around one (occasionally two if you’re really lucky) minimal, knuckle-dragging riffs that the band hammer to breaking point and beyond. Imagine Flipper’sGeneric” pumped up on steroids and ruined on cheap lager and you get a good idea of the kind of punishing dirge Drunk In Hell have to offer. Bish’s belligerent vocals establish a threatening air of constant menace, decipherable enough to discern some of the grotty details of “Sick Sick Sex” and “Bitch Boy” but incoherent enough to leave the complete picture disturbingly vague.

I’m Not Laughing” provides a twisted adrenaline rush before the second half of the LP sees the band increase the levels of drudgery with grossly compelling results. “Born Sick” is based on a lumbering doom riff that feels like the Melvin’s back catalogue distilled into one shot of pure evil while the ominous rumble of “Gag” heightens the mood of dread.

The eight minutes of “Walking Abortion” brings the album to a close in tense fashion. The track comes across like a weird, tooled-up version of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control”, based on an unrelenting drum beat that drives a feeling of increasing desperation and futility reflected in the guitars and vocals. The spell is finally broken by a squalling cloud of feral saxophone that provides a suitably nasty finale.

Drunk In Hell have delivered what is easily the most horrible release of 2017. Seven years of accrued filth and sludge has never sounded so good.

“Drunk In Hell” is available here

Band info: facebook

Monday, 11 December 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Path of Might - "Hallowed Gate Style"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/11/ 2017
Label: Encapsulated Records

With “Hallowed Gate Style”, Path of Might adds some melody and grace to the punishing might of their debut, but more importantly cements the trio as an act who, in time, could equal or even eclipse their diverse influences.

“Hallowed Gate Style” CD//DD track listing

1. Hallowed Gate Style
2. Locust Fugue
3. Infernal Orchards
4. House of Rain
5. Mega Magicka
6. Tea and Oranges
7. Locust Storm
8. Chapels to the West

The Review:

Path of Might’s 2015 self-titled debut drew a lot of comparisons to other sludge masters: Mastodon, Neurosis, and Baroness, to name a few.  Like these modern legends, Path of Might infuses sludge with prog flourish, and adds some Appalachian folk for good measure.  If that tidy half hour of power was just a taste, “Hallowed Gate Style” is a veritable smorgasbord of sludge.  Over the course of eight tracks, guitarist Spencer Medley, bassist Derek Rife, and drummer Adam Lucz pay homage to their forebears in metal and prog alike, while crafting a cinematic journey through time and space that invokes images of Kurosawa and Leone, by way of Timothy Leary and Aldous Huxley.
First and foremost, Path of Might are a highly skilled power trio, who lock into steady grooves without feeling stiff or mechanical.  There’s considerable production, with some distinct separation between guitar tracks for a nice, well rounded listen overall, but the organic tempo shifts and ineffable chemistry shines on the loose, jammy “Infernal Orchards”, or the swaggering, retro “Tea and Oranges”.  Spencer’s vocals push past the guttural barks of their self-titled album to move into melodies that are sometimes reminiscent of Pink Floyd, or, conversely, a younger Matt Pike.  While the lyrics are often subsumed by the heavy reverb or “chants field recorded in caves” qualities, it still works considering the hallucinogenic dynamics of Path of Might’s overall aesthetic.
The prog sludge infusions really cement the record as a serious step forward.  Even the interludes of “Locust Fugue” and “Locust Storm” incorporate American folk and vaguely “far eastern” qualities, even if they’re just cinematic flourishes.  The acoustic bridge of the title track, in particular, qualifies as its own little mystical journey.  For each of the progressive elements, there are lots of passages where the men of Path of Might reveal their classic rock hearts: “Infernal Orchards” feels like Nazareth, if they went full stoner metal, while the finale of “Mega Magicka” has a definite Thin Lizzy vibe.  The utterly savage “House of Rain” is the most indebted to Mastodon, with its rapid hammer-on, pull-off guitar riffing… but damn, Spencer manages to rip it up just as effectively as Brent Hinds & co.

For all the references to other artists, however, Path of Might is more than pastiche.  With their first album, they showed considerable instrumental prowess and fierce delivery.  In slightly more than two years, they’ve incorporated diverse elements without losing a bit of aggression, and battle hardened their sludge alchemy.  With “Hallowed Gate Style”, Path of Might adds some melody and grace to the punishing might of their debut, but more importantly cements the trio as an act who, in time, could equal or even eclipse their diverse influences.

“Hallowed Gate Style” is available here and physical copies here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

THE BEST OF 2017: The Top 6 of the 666 Pack Review 2017

By: Nikos Mixas

Artwork By: Joshua M. Wilkinson

If you’ve been paying attention, the 666 Pack Review is an abbreviated review column mostly focused on very new bands or bands that have submitted demo material to THE SLUDGELORD.  The basic premise is that 6 bands are critiqued using only 6 words and on a scale from 1 to 6(66).  What you see below is the best of the year for the 666 Pack Review.  Congrats and hails to those bands that made the list! 

6). Sparrowmilk - “Articles of Separation” (Cleveland, Ohio) (April 2017)

Instrumentals usually bore me, this didn’t. 

5). Dawn on Sedna - “Our Sky Has Changed” (Viareggio, Italy) (February 2017)

Some good sludge right there Sludgelord! 

4). Dwoom - “Pale Mare Demo MMXVII” (Sundsvall, Sweden) (June 2017)

Better than most signed doom bands.

3). Cacus  - “Dirty filthy godless” (Copenhagen, Denmark) (March 2017)

 Iron Monkey could learn from them…

2). Elder Devil - “Graves Among The Roots” (Fresno, USA) (July 2017)

Angriest submission of all the 666s! 

1). Five The Hierophant - “Over Phlegethon” (London, UK) (September 2017)

Most original of the Sludgelord offerings.

Friday, 8 December 2017

TOP 16 ALBUMS: THE SOUR 16 (November 2017)

As we enter the countdown to Christmas and with a mere 17 days to go it is time to present 16 of the best albums from September, it is time for your SOUR 16

You know the drill by now, each month you the reader are unwittingly compiling a list of the top16 records of the month, covering all genres of metal.  Is it not a chart, in which reviewers or contributors extol their opinion about their favourite music.  To put it simply, THE SOUR 16 are the records that have been trending the most at SLUDGELORD HQ.

The results are compiled based on the amount of page views the reviews have received and are then calibrated into the list below.  All reviews can be viewed by clicking the artwork and we have included album streams wherever possible. (Total views since their publication are highlighted in the red)

16). Sect“No Cure for Death” (823)

Sect have set the standard for hardcore music and what it should aspire to in 2017. If you’re looking to heavy music with a message, look no further than “No Cure for Death”.

15). Slabdragger & Wren - “Mothers Of The Beef And The Magic Of Invention” [Split] (874)

Both bands deliver the best kind of cover version; one that takes the source material and imbues it with their own unique spirit to create something new and exciting.  An essential purchase for any fans of the UK heavy underground and maybe it’ll turn some old Zappa and Beefheart heads towards the sludgier side of life too

14). Cannibal Corpse - "Red Before Black" (938)

Once again, Cannibal Corpse have crushed all in their wake and returned as conquering anti-heroes of the death metal genre.  Cannibal Corpse remain the death metal band by which many other death metal bands are judged and remain my go-to band of choice if I want to listen to something extreme, violent, uncompromising and also oddly, inexplicably, insanely listenable.

13). Hooded Priest - "The Hour Be None" (959)

This is doom metal that will appeal to anyone with a sense of theatre and anyone who wants to bang their head as well; there is some great metal on offer here. Huge and sprawling in its ambition, “The Hour Be None” is a doom tour de force and I recommend it highly.

12). Amenra - "Mass VI" (1054)

Amenra’s music is real and comes across as brutally honest. The formula (sonic + emotional heft) = (a heavy album) is one that’s been done many times before, but what Amenra does that sets them apart from the pack is the diligence they use when drinking from the well of inspiration. Amenra makes their listener feel and live with them. This keeps Amenra in touch with why they started making music in the first place. It’s this artistic integrity that helps make “Mass VI” what it is. 

11). Pale Horseman - "The Fourth Seal" (1084)

Pale Horseman offers a special sort of heft to their music, with mesmerizing guitars convulsing, vocals crunching  and the drums creating a war beat that is stifling in weight.

10). Fister & CHRCH“Fister/CHRCH” (Split LP) (1120)

Over the course of nearly forty minutes, CHRCH and Fister, employing different sonic palettes and lineups, craft a perfect split for the moment: unholy, polluted, funereal and dismal – a requiem for humanity’s end times that is as beautiful as it is ugly.

9). Manilla Road - "To Kill A King" (1205)

In summary, To Kill A King is a superb and epic metal album, forged from the finest steel.

8). Dead Quiet“Grand Rites” (1255)

All of the nuance and balance on this record really make it an experience that never bogs the listener down. It is for these reasons, that Dead Quiet’s “Grand Rites” is one of the best Canadian Metal records of the year.

7). Purple Hill Witch - "Celestial Cemetery" (1256)

From the Deep Purple-indebted organ intro, to the bluesy pentatonic riffing, there’s no doubt that the latest LP from Norway’s Purple Hill Witch is pure retro-metal worship.  The pervasive garage metal swagger elevates some pretty raw material and proves that they have the chops to be a really excellent outlier in the doom metal underground

6). Clouds Taste Satanic - "The Glitter of Infinite Hell" (1381)

Clouds Taste Satanic’s blend of doom, stoner and sludge chords, capacious basslines and drums set an imposing climate that sets them  apart from their peers. Each cut here feels distilled down to the pitched greatness of its many influences. Guitars simmer like the hunt during a horror movie and by the albums conclusion, chances are your mind will be thoroughly mashed.

5). Converge - "The Dusk In Us" (1897)

Today, with random acts of violence, anger and pessimism dotting our timelines, maybe Converge just now seems like a soundtrack to our contemporary apocalypse

4). Godflesh - "Post Self" (2301)

It may be a disturbing, challenging last will and testament of humanity’s futurist hopes and dreams, but “Post Self” is an invigorating, complex, and honest piece of industrial metal.  Perhaps most importantly, in a genre that can be glutted with repetitive speed metal riffs and samples of shouting despots, Godflesh stands as one of the smartest bands working today.

3). Norilsk - "Le Passage des Glaciers" (2752)

French canadian doom duo Norilsk return from a two-year layoff with a surprising new album, one that gives a reengaged sound to the pair's signature style.  Norilsk manages to be bold without being alienating, and that is indeed refreshing.

2). Electric Wizard - "Wizard Bloody Wizard" (9121)

 “Wizard Bloody Wizard” transcends whatever the in-thing of the moment is, and focuses instead on musicianship, the album's all-analog approach creates a warm, vintage sound for the songs and on the whole Electric Wizard feels re-energized, whilst  remaining true to their seedy pedigree

1). Morbid Angel - "Kingdoms Disdained" (28760)

This album is a statement of intent, placing the focus on convulsive rhythm changes and dissonant, jagged riffs over accessibility.  ‘Kingdoms Disdained’ is Morbid Angel's most uncompromising album of their career and their best album in nearly twenty years, and I don’t consider that light praise.

A big thank you as always to our amazing writers, your dedication knows no boundaries and for that I am truly grateful.  Novembers 2017’s “SOUR 16” features reviews byRichard Maw, Ernesto Aguilar, Daniel Jackson, Mark Ambrose, Victor Van Ommen, Charlie Butler & Mark Tremblay

REVIEW + TRACK PREMIERE: Ghastly Sound - "The Bottom" [EP]

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 15/12/2017
Label: Magnetic Eye Records

The band returns with its second offering of 2017, and it gets back in the mud with this ridiculously catchy EP.  It will leave fans wanting but "The Bottom" closes out the year for Ghastly Sound in grand style.

“The Bottom” DD track listing
1. Waves
2. The Bottom
3. Holy Serpent
4. Deadtooth
5. Sink

The Review:

In February, Vermont sludge metal trio Ghastly Sound offered their self-titled debut to big fanfare. The band, composed of just a bass, drum and vocal, generated buzz for its metal roots that integrate hardcore, noise and dashes of dream-pop into the songs. And when a follow-up was announced, hype for the young band was building.

Besides recording, it's been a busy few months for the three-piece. Over the summer, Ghastly Sound bassist T. J, Maynard gained viral notoriety for outing white supremacist Ryan Roy to his Vermont employer. Roy, part of the white power metal band Hate Speech, was among hundreds of participants in Unite the Right protests in Charlottesville, which resulted in the death of a protester and a national outcry. In an interview after Roy's termination, Maynard said, "“They didn’t fire him because he went to the rally or exercised his right to freedom of speech. They fired him because when the community saw that he was there they told his employer that they would lose business if they kept him around. It was that free market conservatives love to tout at its best."

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, in addition to liking the music, you might want to give points for being willing to call folks out.

Ghastly Sound's members didn't let the media attention go to their heads, clearly. The band returns with its second offering of 2017, and it gets back in the mud for clanking, yet ridiculously catchy, metal on "The Bottom."

What makes Ghastly Sound such an intriguing group in the metal ecosystem is how fluidly it incorporates inspirations into a sound that is squarely hard rock/metal in breeding. Not having a guitarist makes the trio far more innovative than a lot of bands, and vocalist Tyler Gurwicz is versatile enough to hit a range of notes and emotions with his singing. "Waves," its opener, hooks you with both melodies and driving volume. It's a rollicking cut, where Gurwicz goes from shouts to soaring vocals over its two minutes and change. On the title track, Maynard and drummer Ryan Lewis provide a charging backdrop for Gurwicz to flex his diverse approach.

Ghastly Sound count bands like Unsane and Torche among its influences, and those among others are flags flown high on songs like "Deadtooth." Additionally, Ghastly Sound's aesthetic very strongly merges touches of more mainstream music with metal. Acts from Word Alive, Myrkur and The Devil Wears Prada have created releases in not dissimilar ways, to both love and hate. And while Ghastly Sound is unlike all of them, the Vermont team's savvy feels familiar, in a good way. Lastly, you might expect a song named "Holy Serpent" or something else might explicitly address the Roy incident, or white power bands, but it doesn't, at least directly.

By the time you finish the EP, your main complaint may well be that "The Bottom," at just over 15 minutes, is simply too short. Perhaps it is better to leave fans wanting more than wanting less. Regardless, "The Bottom" closes out the year for Ghastly Sound in grand style.

The title track from “The Bottom" is streaming in full below and the EP available to pre order/buy here and via bandcamp here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook