By: Aaron Pickford
As we talk stock at The Sludgelord, that we achieved the milestone of publishing 4000 articles and over 2000 album reviews this week (n.b. Steve Howe’s contributions cannot be understated), our commitment to offer you many more magnificent riffs is unwavering, therefore it is time cast our minds back upon the month of July and digest the 16 albums that would become July’s sacrilegious ‘Sour 16’, the finest and most profane riffs around bundled together into a premium sized sonic soufflé.
You know the drill, each month; you the reader are unwittingly compiling a list of the top 16 records that we featured in July, covering all genres of metal. Is it not a chart, in which reviewers or contributors extol their opinion about their favourite music. The ‘Sour 16’ are the records that have been trending the most at Sludgelord Headquarters.
The results are compiled based on page views alone and calibrated into the list below. So kick back, with a cold one and let the power of the riff compel thee! 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 red)
16). Graves At Sea – “The Curse That Is” (303)
The album opener and title track drops the anchor to establish the length, tone and rhythm this 76 minute voyage is about. An unpredictable, violent haze of amplifier worship, “The Curse That Is” is a strong candidate for one of the top 10 albums of 2016.
15). The Human Condition – “Pathways” (308)
This is a classy album, full of doom and melancholy. The band are great live and boasts some of the North West's most enduring doom talent from such luminaries as Unsilence, for instance. The band play a blinder throughout and front man Nathan Harrison really captures the feeling of powerlessness so prevalent in the lyrics and themes here. Harrowing stuff indeed.
14). The Order of Israfel – “Red Robes” (330)
Titled "Red Robes," their sophomore album is a crushing slab of classic doom. Twin guitar harmonies permeate the arrangements; slow, lumbering beats intermingle with high-energy, uptempo passages; stark vocals deliver creep out lyrics; all in support of their almighty neck breaking riffs.
13). Wytch Hazel – “Prelude” (343)
If you have any interest in Tull, Ash, Lizzy, Sabbath et al and yearn for a band to come along and play like those heroes of a bygone era, Wytch Hazel are definitely worth your time and money. They are a great band and one that is doing something unique- out are occult tropes and devil-ish imagery, in are song-writing, medieval sonics/themes and enthusiasm rather than cynicism. A triumphant record on every level.
12). Bleak – “No Light No Tunnel” (350)
From the jagged intro of “Teeth” to the guttural barks that bring “Fuck Your God” to a close, Bleak do not let up for a second. Every track here is a potent blend of Converge’s nastiest moments and the crushing attack of Coalesce brewed in a vat of filthy, thick sludge. “No Light No Tunnel” is not pretty but makes for a horribly captivating listen. Few records this year will match the vitriolic onslaught Bleak deliver here.
11). Adolyne – “Of Ash/Of Shit/Of Shame” (363)
The whole album feels like it’s teetering on the edge of collapse which lends a real thrill and urgency to proceedings. This is felt most strongly during epic closer “Brawler’s Fracture”. Intense, restless riffing akin to Keelhaul is swallowed by a buzzing swarm of squealing guitars that threaten to consume all. Just before chaos fully descends, the track breaks into a crushing slow-motion finale. “Of Ash/Of Shit/Of Shame” is a skilfully constructed visceral journey. Adolyne create a unique noise, a captivating damaged racket that will enrapture those with a taste for uneasy listening.
10). Wo Fat – “Midnight Coment” (400)
Stoner, psychedelia, doom and classic rock all coalesce here with massive results. Only one track under five minutes, the rest sprawling languidly well over that mark. Hendrix jamming with Fu Manchu and Sabbath¸ simply put, this is storming stuff; wrought from the heaviest of iron and the lightest of air. Massive.
9). Ghold – “PYR” (444)
“PYR” is an exceptional release from Ghold that really cements their position as the finest heavy act in the UK right now. It is the sound of a band who exist in a world of their own, above and beyond our plane of existence and drifting ever closer to the outer limits.
8). Reproacher – “Nature’s Bastard” (475)
Huge, awkward riffs dominate the landscape, their ugly, discordant racket is reminiscent of Converge at their nastiest. This is a mighty offering, a captivating combination of savage intensity and considered dynamics.
7). Cough – “Still They Pray” (507)
6). Solothus – “No King Reigns Eternal” (748)
An encompassing album with an unforgiving heaviness, "No King Reigns Eternal" sees Finns Solothus’ improve on their debut album, and release one of the heaviest doom releases so far this year. Instilled with death metal elements and no signs of calm, it is a harrowing album full of weighty monolithic riffs and a murky atmosphere.
5). Wormed – “Krighsu” (953)
Krighsu’ is ten tracks of unrelenting tech-death, set at a warp speed that has no intention of ever slowing down. Space is infinite, and it seems WORMED’s ability to create jaw-breakingly heavy music is just as vast.
4). Cold World – “Autumn” (1033)
Börner writes and creates music that should appeal to both purist and tourist alike. Not because he haphazardly smashes the pieces into each other, like a child with their toys, but because his instincts and strengths do so organically. “Autumn’ is flush with atmosphere and overall is a cohesive and brilliant listening experience.
3). Wretch – “Wretch” (1877)
This is a fine debut and a much needed shot of trad doom, with actual songs, - in an era of obsession with amps and pedals (but without, you know, actual songs and stuff). It is a triumph for this intrepid trio and surely there are great things to come for the band. Make no mistake, Wretch are here and Wretch will bring you real doom or throw you out of the bar if you don't like it.
2). Periphery – “Periphery III: Select Difficulty” (2009)
Experimental metal bands like Periphery will (hopefully) never settle for sticking to one particular groove. Constantly innovating, this adds to “Juggernaut”, jumping off from that platform and diving into dark, unexplored depths. Music should surprise and inspire, and “Periphery III: Select Difficulty” does both with eye-opening results. Just watch out for unexpected face-melting, okay?
1). Dunsmuir – “Dunsmuir” (2021)
Dunsmuir, manages the uncanny trick of amounting to the sum of its parts. The record's players have some serious pedigree and none if it is wasted. Vinny Appice is as powerful as ever, with a beastly snare sound, while Bone and Davis are a formidable strings team. Fallon puts in a hardworking and uniformly stellar shift as per usual. Simply put, if you like Clutch and Dio-era Sabbath, you will be right at home here. If you are a fan of Fu Manchu, there are sounds for you here as well. This album rocks, it’s that simple.
A big thank you as always to our amazing writers, your dedication knows no boundaries and for that I am truly grateful. February’s “Sour 16” features reviews by: Richard Maw, Daniel Jackson, George Parr, Charlie Butler, Chris Markwell, Doza Hawes & Gerardo Pacheco