Friday 8 April 2016

The Sludgelord "Sour 16" for March 2016

The Sludgelord’s ‘Sour 16’ is back 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 March 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). Mondo Drag – “The Occultation of Light” (316)

Compared to their self-titled from last year ’The Occultation Of Light’ is more intense and direct in its offering. Yet similarly to that previous effort, the album’s strength again lies rather in that which is left unsaid. What can also be heard is a matured band more comfortable in delving into different frames of mind, knowing full well how to stay the course on an even keel, paying reverence to their array of influences yet earnestly exploring previously uncharted territories.

15). Burn Thee Insects - “Droid Intelligence” (317)

The album starts with "Hydroponics," a killer track that pulls out all the stops. This song sets the tone immediately with a rough and tumble riff and monotone vocals. In a nutshell, this is the Burn Thee Insects sound. "Concrete Pillow" carries the torch of the opener into some heavy plodding, reminding a bit of Mars Red Sky, an influence that rears its head again in the slower "Through the Fog.” The riffs that Burn Thee Insects bring to the fore are compelling enough that even though we are four months removed from the release date; it’s still worth noting that "Droid Intelligence" exists and that it is recommended by us here at The Sludgelord.

14). Latitudes – “Old Sunlight” (326)

Their crunchy take on Pelican’s colossal ambition shot through with Mastodon’s progressive grit is as potent as ever, particularly evident on the monstrous “Altarpieces”. “Old Sunlight” is no retread of former glories though, every track crackles with the energy of the band expanding their horizons.“Ordalian” and “Gyre” are riddled with frantic black metal-influenced tremolo picking, injecting an air of grandiose melody to the Latitudes already epic sound. “Old Sunlight” consolidates all that was great about Latitudes and stretches it in intriguing new directions to intoxicating effect. Hopefully they won’t leave another four years until the next time.

13). RIP – “In The Wind” (333)

This is a doom record, for sure, but of the vintage variety and with a distinctly American flavour. Retro in approach, satisfying in content, R.I.P. are a welcome addition to the great tradition of rebel outsiders which litter the US cultural highways; get your motor running: R.I.P. are here!

12). Beastmaker – “Lusus Naturae” (346)

“Lusus Naturae” is a fine entry into the Book of Doom; and one that points towards great things to come. With the backing of Rise Above Records, the band are sure to become cult favourites. The upcoming April UK tour seems like one to catch while the band is still playing smaller venues. Definitely check this record out and find out for yourself.

11). Ifrinn – “Ifrinn” (355)
I’ve spent a lot of my life listening to 90s black metal, and those bands seeking to duplicate that sound in the present. There are bands that that can do it well, even if they’re outright re-using another band's ideas. That’s not Ifrinn. This isn’t a clone band. They’re a band entrenched in the past creating music that would be revered alongside the classics of that era, were it released at the same time. Instead,Ifrinn”is one of the great black metal albums of 2016, despite looking backward rather than forward.

10). Station Twenty7 – “Beyond The Darkness” (364)

“Before The Gates” lets you know exactly what you are in for; thrash metal, no more and no less- resolutely traditional but with strong production, world class hooks and world class performances on display.

09). Zun – “Burial Sunrise” (379)

The slowness of “All That You Say I Am” or the moment in “All For Nothing” that the bass loses its raunchiness and transforms into a lush swelling of lower tones, define this record. The mood is laid back, the pretense is absent, and the vocals that drift by like a breeze on a cold night add up to something special. “Burial Sunrise” is a record that is musically spot on as well as one that encapsulates the spirit and soul of Desert rock.

08). Monomyth - “Exo” (380)

The quintet from The Hague deal in a potent brand of Hawkwind-style space rock, driven by relentless krautrock rhythms, coated in a sticky stoner fuzz. The band employs hypnotic repetition to cosmic effect throughout the five tracks that make up new LP“Exo”. The languid “Uncharted” begins the voyage, a minimal groove emerging from a cloud of intergalactic synth squall. The highlight of “Exo” though comes in the form of the hulking robotic funk of “LHC”, a huge ten minute propulsive groove, powered by layers of pulsing electronics and choppy riffs. Imagine Zombi covering the theme from Knight Rider with a little help from Colour Haze. “Exo” is a compelling journey to the outer limits. Monomyth will have no problems enlisting willing recruits to join them on this trip to the beyond.

07). Capsized – “Overwhelming the Circles” (386)

Gravelly harsh vocals collide with discordant riffs that get glued inside your mind very quickly and the off centre type riffs remind me of what Hydra Head Records used to do. The weight of this album is intense and at times an immeasurable force that can be uplifting and downtrodden at the same time, which is great to hear in songwriting these days. Things are stirring in the South, that’s for sure, and I know for a fact it has more to offer than just NOLA. Keep listening, keep looking. Capsized is one that’s moving and gaining momentum!

06). Tombs – “All Empires Fall” (407)

Tombs are swiftly becoming a force to be reckoned with in today's bloated extreme metal landscape. They are a band that take no prisoners and continue to push the envelopes in terms of originality. This EP is quite simply exceptional. Mike Hill's vocals are more acerbic than in previous efforts as the blackened riffs from Hill and Evan Void are full of contempt as they burn and scrape like razorwire being dragged across bare skin.

05). New Keepers of The Water Towers  - “ Infernal Machine” (517)

Whilst the tracks are lengthy, the album as a whole does not feel too long. Not once will you find yourself wanting to hit skip. New Keepers of the Water Towers are a hidden gem of a band, mixing the influences of heroes such as Pink Floyd and King Crimson along with modern day prog masters such as Opeth and Steven Wilson is not an easy trick, but New Keepers …pull it off excellently.

04). Elephant Tree – “Elephant Tree” (680)

If you’re on a quest for the next hit of sludgy psychedelic riffing to satisfy your music addiction, Elephant Tree is the thing to go for. They offer up the heaviness of slow, European doom and counter it with a classic rock swing. This is blended seamlessly with melody, both in the riffing as well as the vocals, drawing as much from the annals of rock music as it does from the modern stoner scene. The album is made up of riffs that beg to be played over and despite the amount of repetition Elephant Tree does in fact use, the inherent quality of these riffs is that they aren’t given their due no matter how many times they get thrown at us. The quality of this album will prove itself once year-end list season comes around.

03). Curse The Son – “Isolator” (720)

Massive fuzzy riffs, wailing vox and swinging rhythms abound from the off. The production is spot on; nice and live sounding with care and attention applied (double tracked vocals) to make the record sound thorough and mapped out. The title track shows all of the aforementioned in abundance. Ron Vanacore delivers his vocals with full conviction, all the while laying down tar thick riffs. “Gaslighter” is more Sabbathian with its swinging riff and plodding pace. Overall this is a very strong record which mixes doom and stoner in equal amounts to equally great effect

02). Lord Mantis – “NTW” (800)

01). Goya – “The Enemy” (916)

"The buzz saw grind that so powerfully embodies Goya is, on this four track EP, infested with a horripulation that sees the Arizona three-piece sounding creepier and more terrifying than ever before."

A big thank you as always to our amazing writers, your dedication knows no boundaries and for that I am truly grateful.  March’s “Sour 16” features reviews by, Chris Bull, Philip Weller, Richard Maw, Daniel Jackson, Dominic Walsh, Victor Van Ommen, Charlie Butler, Joosep Nilk and Eric Crowe