Monday 7 March 2016

The Sludgelord "Sour 16" for February 2016

By: Aaron Pickford

The Sludgelord’s ‘Sour 16’ is back again to present another selection of the finest riffs around.  You know the deal, each month; you the reader are unwittingly compiling a list of the top 16 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 Headquarters.

So here is the The Sludgelord’s ‘Sour 16’ for February 2016.   Dig in, spread the word and perhaps revisit some records you may have overlooked.  The results are compiled based on page views alone and calibrated into the list below. So roll up, kick back, chug a beer and Hail the riff! 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). Agoraphobic Nosebleed – “Arc” (244)

A solid EP and an exciting glance as the prospect to come. While it’s not the ANb sound that we might know, it’s absolutely a sound that anyone can jump into and with this effort we get grind turned Louisiana Sludge a la Eyehategod led by vocals from ex Salome member, Kat Katz. And what an effort is has turned out to be… Now go be a hypocrite and support capitalism and get your hands on “Arc”. Then turn it up really really fucking loud

15). Horrified – “Of Despair” (255)

While the straightforward death metal moments are very good, it’s those moments of downtempo grandiosity that separate Horrified from other modern day death metal bands. It’s in those moments that Horrified offer us reassurance for death metal’s future, even in being so reminiscent of its past.

14). Ereb Altor – “Blot-Ilt-Taut” (258)

“Home of Once Brave” and “Twilight of the Gods” are both faithful renditions, and performed about as well as you could hope. The added heft of a modern production helps, but the execution is what really sets these covers apart, retaining a lot of what made the songs so great in the first place, and exuding a deep passion for the source material to boot.  They’re deeply affected and influenced by the subject at hand, and they’re got a strong enough grasp to really do the material justice. In that sense, a band succeeding more than they fail on a tribute album of this kind is quite the accomplishment.

13). The Skull – “The Skull” EP (281)

12). Entombed A.D. – “Dead Dawn” (297)

“Dead Dawn”, I am pleased to report, rocks harder than the first record. “Midas In Reverse” sees LG Petrov on fine form and the band thrashing away- what a relief! The title track mixes pummelling double bass drums with doomy sections as well as triplet time feel- excellent. There are acoustic intros here, a gnarly guitar sound, live sounding drums and the likes of “Total Death” are short sharp shocks compared to more downbeat material like “As The World Fell”.  There is a heavier vibe and sound to this album than the last release and the band should be commended for building and moving forwards. Of course, if you enjoy Entombed in any or all its forms, this album is a must.

11). Sealclubber – “Stoical” (315)

Anyone who longs for the sludgy riffs, intricate structures and dissonant melody of early Mastodon, Baroness and Kylesa will be enraptured by this release.  “Stoical” is a phenomenal debut from Sealclubber. This is a record that marks them as a force to be reckoned with in the UK and beyond and sets the bar for gold-standard riffage in 2016.

10). Low Flying Hawks – “Kofuku” (325)

What makes “Kōfuku” an effective and well done record is its ambitious scope. Low Flying Hawks try a lot of different styles on their debut record and they execute all of them well. The project feels cohesive even if at times the tracks can run into each other a bit. Extremely well written riffs and a dynamic range of tones make “Kōfuku” a metal record a lot of bands are trying to make right now but fall short because they fail to effectively fuse all of the styles together effectively at the same time

9). Primitive Man/Northless – “Split” (326)

Dirty like water from a flophouse drain. Like your sludge blackened and charred? Here you go guy. Revel in this muck. Choke on its abrasive grit, and let it close about you head. Let it absorb you.

8). La Chinga – “Freewheelin” (335)

Retro-rock might be a misnomer but La Chinga does serve up that saucy 70s hard rock vibe. Each song makes a steadfast bolt to the chorus by way of Aerosmith swagger and Van Halen riffing, without neglecting the importance of a bad ass guitar solo. High-sung backing vocals abound, contributing a feeling of unity to the record and those listening to it.  At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter which song is cherry picked from the track list, each one is a party and luckily we’re all invited for the ride.

7). Love Sex Machine – “Asexual Anger” (366)

The new album 'Asexual Anger' from French heavyweights Love Sex Machine is like a KGB torture programme. Each strum of the strings, each hit of the drums, each vocal has been meticulously thought out and methodically delivered to inflict maximum impact each time. Whatever information it is you have, you'd better confess!  This follow up to 2014's self titled debut, is a stark reminder that LSM are equipped with all the right tools to punish; your eardrums will be very pleased indeed.

6). Duel – “Fears of the Dead” (394)

My guess is that this Austin, Texas four piece has been raised on a steady diet of slasher films and Danzig. And what do you know, that’s exactly what we get to hear.  What makes these horror-doom rockers so interesting to listen to is the general good times they’re serving up. The lyrics are dark, yes, but the palm muted riffs that explode into infectious choruses turn each song into a celebration and once “Locked In” closes out the record it’s hard to believe these 38 entertaining minutes of horror-doom and good time rock n’ roll have already passed us by.

5). Bloodiest – “Bloodiest” (405)

“Mesmerize” sets the tone for events to come. The band launch straight into a rumbling, menacing riff, like Tool jamming with The Jesus Lizard while Shellac look on approvingly. This track exemplifies what Bloodiest do so well on this LP; relentless repetition of a phrase, letting it slowly transform while building towards a furious climax. They manage to do this in a fluid, hypnotic fashion, avoiding the pitfalls of obvious quiet/loud dynamics.  There is a lot of great, heavy music around today, but it’s rare to hear something as fresh and compelling as this LP. Bloodiest have crafted an incredible piece of work here, challenging without being difficult and crushing without always resorting to amplification-overload.

4). Slabdragger – “Rise of the Dawncrusher” (413)

Taking us on a galactic mission, Slabdragger open up with 'Mercenary Blues' with its crushing stoner groove causing many an involuntary head nod (as well as plenty of voluntary ones).  The riffs are typical of the Slabdragger style we've come to know and love, pentatonic flourishes and doomtastic hammer blows holding everything together, with utterly pummeling riffs smacking you around the head.  This is the sound of a band attempting to reclaim their throne atop the UK underground doom/sludge scene, judging by the 5 tracks here, they've certainly succeeded. Long live the kings.

3). Black Cobra – “Imperium Simulacra” (460)

Despite Black Cobra being half the size of most metal bands, this album is a beast, their sound is so full and frantic that between Landrian’s manic riffing and Martinez filling up every single beat, there’s simply no space for more. This isn’t mindless metal music, either, there’s extreme talent at work.  With such a barrage of aggressive sludge-metal, “Imperium Simulacra” tears itself open through a wall of sound that towers high and wide over the listener. Black Cobra is making their existence known and how. So take heed, “Imperium Simulacra” is a riotous album filled with a sharp, aggressive onslaught of sludge-metal that destroys everything in its path.

2). Mars Red Sky “Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul” (526)

"Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)" is a crazy psychedelic trip and Mars Red Sky is your tour guide. Pras leads the way with confidence and the full support of a hefty rhythm section. From the album’s plodding bookends to Side B’s catchy space rock explorations, there’s a gorgeous chemistry at play here. The result is one damn fine psychedelic stoner rock record

1). Boss Keloid – “Herb Your Enthusiasm” (1268)

“Herb Your Enthusiasm” is a powerfully elegant dirge. It’s masterfully produced with guitar tones that have their own suffocating gravitational pull, a comatose rhythm section that rumbles like the uneasy shifting of tectonic plates and Alex Hurst’s air raid siren howls all coming together to sound simply imperious.  There’s an elevation to it, an otherworldliness and a freshness that wrestles with the aesthetics of the influences that shape their wide open sound that reeks of individualism. And it is upon that identity that they are forging their way to becoming something far greater than just another sludge band. Stand up. Pay attention. Boss Keloid are the pinnacle of the sludge movement right now.

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, Chris Bull, Philip Weller, Richard Maw, Daniel Jackson, Mike Wilcox, Victor Van Ommen, Charlie Butler, TJ Kliebhan  and Hunter Young.