Thursday 20 February 2014

Vinyl Corner : Druglord - Enter Venus (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 22/2/2014
Label : STB Records

Enter Venus, album track listing :

Side One :
1). Grievous Heaving 06:50
2). Feast on the Eye 07:36

Side Two :
3). Enter Venus 06:29
4). Let Us Bleed 06:15

Bio :

Formed Feb 2010. First show July 2010. Played shows with bands like COUGH, Inter Arma, Cannabis Corpse, Buzzoven, Sourvein, GWAR,The Body, Darkest Hour, Battlemaster, Occultist, Tweakbird, Lord By Fire, Wizardry, and many others in the past 2 year

The Band :

Tommy H | Guitar, Vocals
Greta B | Bass
HufKnell | Drums

Review :

Let’s kick things off by saying, I make no apologies for my affection and die hard support of STB Records, indeed what more can be said about a label that I/we have lauded over for the course of their last 7 releases, yes people that is 7 (if you include their small pressings of cassettes too)?  Answer, a great deal more.  Why?  Because STB Records, are at the crux of releasing their 8th and arguably their best release to date.  No! They are about to release their best release to date.  What is it? Enter Venus, possibly the bleakest sons of bitches this side of the swamp, I give you, Druglord.

The STB Records juggernaut continues with the aforementioned release by Richmond, Virginia grime sludge doomsters new record.  It will come as four unique and stunning editions.  The “diehard” is limited to 50 copies, comes with custom art from W. Ralph Walters, and bears a unique foil stamp, hand-numbered, clear vinyl with what STB Records describe as their “dopesmoke” green splatter. The “OBI” version does exactly what it say on the tin, it comes with an OBI strip in Japanese and English. Olive green / milky white clear colour vinyl, limited to 90 copies.  3rd version is an exclusive Euro version for sale via Kozmik Artifactz Distro in Germany,Swamp Green with White and black heavy splatter limited to 103 pieces. 

STB Records have certainly become the flag bearer when it comes to producing superior quality wax, like a Courvoisier to the connoisseur of cognac or a 15 year old single malt, to the whiskey aficionado.  This label produces a highbrow boutique quality blend, and boy do we like to dabble in fine beverages of the wax variety.  Simply put, once sampled you become ensnared by its flavourful quality.  Therein the quality of this feature presentation is exemplary, therefore it is no surprise that the fourth and final version is a limited pressing of 108 copies, I am aghast to call the last version “standard,” but think the lesser quality single malt is still pretty high quality, you follow. STB dubs it ‘not so standard ed’.  Milky white clear with olive green splatter.

The latter, is what I present with this here review for your reading pleasure and featured in the pictures accompanying this review.  ‘cause I guess I should really talk about the music, ya dig!

Not So Standard Edition, 108 Copies 

So, what’s the dealio, homies?  Well, simply put, Enter Venus is the best dose of grimy filth you’re gonna hear this year (Probably! but Carlsberg this ain’t) and the best musical output from STB Records thus far.  Having released their cheerily monikered Motherfucker Rising debut a few years back, these motherfucking motherfuckers (I mean that affectionately) are back, with what invariably is a decidedly blackened doomier version of said lords of drug (see what I did there?).  The fact of the matter is, Enter Venus = oppressively bleak. Did I like it? Damn straight, I loved every single moment of Druglord’s spewing rancid ooze.

Playing at 45 rpm and at around 27 minutes, Enter Venus opens its arms and receives us into the bowels of hell, indeed the polite overture of the opening sound bite, declares “I rise before angels, to tell you I walk into the valley of the living death, AND I FEAR NO EVIL”. Druglord’s modus operanti from the outset is to inflict tarred blackness upon the listener, with the opening riffs, made up from Diabolus in Musica or the incantations of the necronomicon, if indeed the latter was a book of music.  Entitled Grievance Heaving, it couldn’t be a more apt description; slow dry wretchings of bile is the styling’s that their music produce.  Everything is played at a morose speed, but riffs have that buzz saw distortion, you know the type.  Torturous dementing tones inflicting paralysis such is the unnerving evil of the guitars and bass, which for the most part are high in the mix, bass heavy and large quantities of fuzz.  Delightful!!  Essentially riffs the size of caverns but with the pace of a cluster of marauding pachyderms.  Leaving a delightfully unsavoury taste in the mouth, Grievance Heaving is a demented opening, with its foundation build upon tension and creating a sense foreboding from the outset, as if the grim reaper has reached inside you and ripped out your soul. The lyrical context of the song seems to convey something or someone ensnared by the forces of evil or perhaps an exorcism, with lines likes ‘Demons under my skin, vapours of healing, heaving the sins’.  At 6:50 it is a tyrannous start. 

Druglord , whilst not exercising much variety in terms of pacing, (this shit is doomier than doom), the use of organs on the latter half of ‘Feast On The Eye’ continues to channel the tense atmosphere of the record, this is an excellent example of the addictive quality of this record and further widens its appeal despite the obvious stark quality.  It may only be 4 tracks, but Druglord have created songs that on a Full 12” wax are afforded the room to breathe.  The music is expansive and yet repetitive compositionally, but I be damned, it just bites like a bloodthirsty pack of zombies, think George A Romero of course.  Enter Venus is positively basking in its own slow murky mess.  Reminiscent of the equally gloomy doomster Windhand, one can draw comparisons that band, with Garret Morris of said band providing a stellar lo fi quality to the recording; dissonant, dissident and subversive. 

Enter Venus (Track 3) contains the best riff for me, the plodding drum work, which is flat and barbaric, easing you into a wondrously repetitious four note skull crusher, enticing us with a perverse seductive quality.  Vocally, Tommy Hamilton’s performance on this track and throughout the record, is harrowing and torturous, with distant atmospherics perhaps accentuated with what seems like reverb, but distorted giving them more pronounced level of grimness.  To my ears at least, I feel his tone is reminiscent of Mike Scheidt, certainly he delivers and encapsulates you with a feeling of claustrophobia.  This dude sound like the embodiment of darkness. 

In short, I am running out of bleak superlatives for this record, yes that seem like a weird juxtaposition, kinda like taking pleasure from eating glass or ingesting bleach.  But that is why this record, just plain aces, in that the stuff is tense, dark and visceral but just unashamedly compelling and absorbing.  Like your favourite horror movie, Druglord make you sick to your stomach, yet the thrill is in the fear and just like a horror flick, Enter Venus it is ultimately satisfying.  Resistance is futile my friends.  Undoubtedly, Druglord may not reach the notoriety of Pablo Escobar, but one thing is for sure, this record is more addictive than anything chopped on a mirror. 

Words by : Aaron Pickford

You can get it on vinyl here from 22/2/2014, listen and buy digitally here

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