Saturday 23 March 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Contrarian, "Their Worm Never Dies"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 15/03/2019
Label: Willowtip Records

if you miss latter day Death, feast your ears on Atheist or love the Cynic debut then this will be music to your ears, because this is impressive stuff.

“Their Worm Never Dies” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Vaskania (The Evil Eye)
2. Exorcism
3. My Curse
4. The Petition
5. Among The Misled
6. Their Worm Never Dies
7. Whomsoever Worships the Whiteworm

The Review:

Technical and progressive death metal is surely an acquired taste- particularly when it comes with the jazzy inflections that bands such as Contrarian deliver by the bucketload. I reviewed the debut “Polemic” back in 2015, but I missed their sophomore effort, “To Perceive Is To Suffer”

So, what have the Rochester, New York, based outfit come up with this time around? Well, it once again references the past greats of the niche genre; latter day Death and Cynic are both in there. Naturally, George Kollias being behind the kit is a huge draw for many DM heads anyway. However, this is no Nile re-tread as he plays technical and jazzy; he's using brushes at the start of “Exorcism” for satan's sake! The sound is pretty great- quite spacious and not too slick. In fact, there is audible hiss and an almost demo like quality to the sound. It's not compressed beyond believe and it sounds authentic, old school and “real” in a way that albums made on pro tools grids alone do not. The drum sound may take a little getting used to, but that is for the listener to decide on. Don't expect boxy and muted sounds... but don't expect zero triggers either!

As the record progresses, it's clear that a fan of the first album will like this one; the leads that open “My Curse” are great, the vocals are another selling point; closer to Schuldiner than Corpsegrinder and they help by dialling down the brutality- this is not hyper-aggressive stuff. The riff passages are excellent and the clean intro of “The Petition” segues perfectly into some mesmerising riffage.

The progressive riffing of “Among The Misled” coupled with the off kilter rhythms does a great job of making the listener pay attention (cracking bass work, too). The title track is three minutes of melancholy vibes and keen lead work- an unexpected twist in the album's tale. The closing eight minutes of “Whomsoever Worships The Whiteworm” is the most extreme track on here, in terms of structure, delivery and sounds. The bass is super dexterous the time changes come thick and fast and the playing is sublime. 

To sum up, then, this third album is a highly credible slice of technical and progressive death metal. This is for all fans of any of the bands mentioned here in comparative terms. Just like the debut, if you miss latter day Death, feast your ears on Atheist or love the Cynic debut then this will be music to your ears. Impressive stuff. 

“Their Worm Never Dies” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday 22 March 2019

VIDEO PREMIERE: TEL deliver cold, depressive and melodic sludge doom on "Ouroboros"

“Lowlife”, the debut album from Richmond Virginia sludge doomsters TEL will be released on March 29 2019 via Aural Music. The album's five songs bridge the gap between the spacious doom of Yob, the raw sludge of Acid Bath, the progressive tendencies of Mastodon, and the sorrowful atmosphere of Katatonia.
Produced by Garrett Morris (the guitarist of Windhand, who has also recorded for the likes of Cough and Electric Wizard) and mastered by Dan Randall of Mammoth Sound Recordings (Iron Reagan, Ghoul, Cannabis Corpse, and many others).  Today at THE SLUDGELORD we’re excited to present TEL’s debut on the blog with the incredible video for the album track “Ouroboros” which you can check out below.  “Lowlife” is available for to order HERE

Band info: facebook

Wednesday 20 March 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: 1782 deliver the perfect blend of stoner doom with "Oh Mary"

In 1782 Anna Göldi was condemned, she was tortured and killed, this was the last witchcraft trial in Europe. Fast forward to the present day and in honor of all the "witches" murdered by the bigoted minds of many generations, Italian duo Marco Nieddu and Gabriele Fancellu formed the stoner doom band 1782 and today at THE SLUDGELORD you can check out a brand new track by the band entitled “Oh Mary” which is taken from their debut album “1782” set for release on May 24th 2019 via Heavy Psych Sounds. Now douse those fires with water, turn up the volume and prepare to let your speakers die!!! You can preorder the album HERE

Band info: facebook

Thursday 14 March 2019

VIDEO PREMIERE: Orso deliver the unique the intense and the monolithic with "Mitraillette"

Born again from the ashes of bands such as Kruger, Lausanne based instrumental post metalists, Orso play slow, thick and massive music, consisting of three guitars, a bass and drums, their music is tainted with dark melancholia.   Following up their debut EP “Primi Piatti” back in 2016, Orso are set to release their debut full length on the 5th April, entitled “Paninoteca” via Czar of Crickets and today we’re excited to debut a video for the track “Mitraillette” taken from the album. 
Preorders are available HERE and you can check out the video in full below. 

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Friday 8 March 2019

VIDEO PREMIERE: Progressive sludge trio Everest Queen debut "Blood That Binds The Iliad"

Hey folks.  I promised you a double helping of riffs today and that is exactly what we’re going to do with another video exclusive from an amazing band who I think you are all going to love.  I am very excited to welcome progressive sludge trio EVEREST QUEEN to the SLUDGELORD.
On the 18th April 2019 EVEREST QUEEN will issued their debut full length entitled “Dead Eden”, and having heard many different versions of the record, from an early mix to the finished mastered version, “Dead Eden” is built upon desne thick riffs that crush, swing and shift from all angles. EVEREST QUEEN are elegant song writers because they undertake a more progressive approach to their songs which in turn enables their compositions to twist and turn, their music is like a mind blowing collision styles ploughed from bands such as Mastodon, Gojira, Isis, Baroness and Conjurer but all of which flow seamlessly together.
“Dead Eden” will be self-released by EVEREST QUEEN on CD and Digital formats on April 18th 2019 with pre-orders being taken HERE.  But let us not forget about dem riffs, check out the fantastic performance video for the track “Blood That Binds The Iliad” below.  Turn it up loud and watch your speakers die!!

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

VIDEO PREMIERE: Lisburn City death doom ensemble The Crawling debut "Rancid Harmony"

Happy Friday folks and what better way to kick start the weekend than offering out some righteous riffs and today we have two brilliant bands for your attention and if I am not mistaken, they’re both making their first appearances at the mighty SLUDGELORD.  First up is The Crawling from Lisburn city, Northern Ireland a band whose music personifies heft and the might of the bludgeoning riff, added to that a mix of guttural vocal to combine melancholy with weight, they churn out a heavy, doom/death ensemble.
The closure of 2018 would see the release of their sophomore album entitled ‘Wolves and the Hideous White” a reflective batch of songs that deals with the human desire to belong, the sacrifices made to be part of someone, disillusion from loss of self, and the final inability to escape.  “Wolves and the Hideous White” is available to order HERE but for now  less chitter chatter and let us deal out some riffs.  Check out the brand new video from The Crawling entitled “Rancid Harmony” which you can check out in full below as well as a band insight for the track. 
“Is experiencing a connection with someone on any level better than none at all? Rancid Harmony reflects the facade of enjoyment, the dance we sell to the world, when inside it’s nothing but rot, and everyone sees it.”

Band info: facebook

Thursday 7 March 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: Baltimore Sludge/Grind Addicts MUSKET HAWK get destructive with "Dios Mio"

Baltimore Sludge/Grind Addicts MUSKET HAWK will release their long-awaited third album, “Upside of Sick” on March 29 via Unholy Anarchy Records. Continuing to plumb the depths of extremity, MUSKET HAWK seeks to annihilate any semblance of tranquillity and bruise the psyches of fans and unsuspecting victims alike. “Upside of Sick” scrapes its way through sludge reverberations, while provoking chaos through grindcore bursts with a punk aura that is as undeniable as it is palpable. 
So grab hold of something immovable and hang on for dear life as we debut a brand new track “Dios Mio” which you can check out below.  Turn it up and watch your speakers die. Pre orders are available HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Tuesday 5 March 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Magic Circle, “Departed Souls”

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/03/2019
Label: 20 Buck Spin

For those looking for a true retro sound, this will not disappoint.  70's to early 80's style doom rock- akin to Sabbath, early Pentagram, Witchfinder General and Pagan Altar, It's a quality release and one worthy of checking out.


“Departed Souls” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Departed Souls
2. I've Found My Way To Die
3. Valley of the Lepers
4. A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares
5. Nightland
6. Gone Again
7. Bird City Blues
8. Hypnotized

The Review:

Magic Circle are on their second full length here; 70's to early 80's style doom rock- akin to Sabbath, early Pentagram, Witchfinder General and Pagan Altar. Vocalist Brendan Radigan is the current vocalist for Pagan Altar, so the reference point is a close one.

This reeks of old school through the sound, bass lines, delivery and production. For those looking for a true retro sound, this will not disappoint. The melodies in the title track opener and “I've found My Way To Die” are strong and will burrow their way into your psyche for sure. The album takes in 70's influences beyond metal; Jethro Tull and Wishbone Ash can be heard in the textures of the album, with softer tracks such as “A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares” being a fine example of this broader pallet (see also Led Zeppelin in their quieter moments).

The more straightforward hard rock of “Nightland” also pays off and highlights the band's US origins (you could be forgiven for mistaking this outfit for geezers from England... but, no). Over the course of eight tracks, the band do experiment with both instrumentation, structure and dynamics. Magic Circle are not just a one trick pony, as “Gone Again” demonstrates with its shades of Coverdale era Deep Purple and Rainbow. The final three tracks (well, two and one interlude) are similarly varied and successful.

This is backwards looking retro proto doom/metal. It's a quality release and one worthy of checking out. It won't change your life, or replace your Pagan Altar albums, but it is good stuff nonetheless.

“Departed Souls” is available HERE

Monday 4 March 2019

6 NEW BANDS: THE SLUDGELORD's "666 Pack Review" (February 2019)

By: Nikos Mixas

Well this year is already off to a quick start and here we are with February 2019’s edition of the THE SLUDGELORD’s “666 Pack Review”.  It’s been a dreary winter so far but the submissions have been quite the opposite.  Let’s see what arrived in THE SLUDGELORD’s inbox for this month.  If you’re new to this, each and every month we handpick 6 review submissions and critique them by only using 6 words, then we rate them on a scale from 1 to 666!  Check out our dreary/doom inspired rating scale below: 

1 – Die.
2 – No one will remember your band after our review.  
3 – Can you be average and miserable?  You just nailed it.    
4 – The power of your darkness compels us.         
5 – Is there a thing such as happy gloom.  If there is, that’s what this is all about.  
666 THE SLUDGELORD bathes in tears of melancholy despondency and has only the upmost sadness from this offering of despair.

Caveat:  Even though the “666 Pack Review” is meant to offer humorous critique, there are no safe spaces here and your gripes will only make you sound like a bellyacher.  THE SLUDGELORD is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

1). MoYan “Hypnic Fall” (Strasbourg, France)  Rating: 5

Here we go, some instrumental depression.

2). Lost Relics “1st” (Denver, U.S.A.)   Rating: 3

A rawer version of Black Tusk.

3). The Valley Ritual “Remembrance” (Orlando, U.S.A.)   Rating: 4

Black Metal Mastodon without Disneyworld influences

4). Mycelium “Disassemble Reconstruct” (London, U.K.)   Rating: 3

Instrumental Black Metal depression.  Production lacks.   

5). Void Tripper “Sabbath Worshipping Doom” (Fortaleza, Brazil) Rating: 2

The perennial opening band right here…

6). Seed of the Sorcerer, Womb of the Witch “Spell Book I: Ceridwen” (Denver, U.S.A.)   Rating: 666!

Guitar tone alone worth the 666!  

Band info: MoYan || The Valley Ritual || Void Tripper || Seed of the Sorcerer, Womb of the Witch

ALBUM REVIEW: Fange, "Punir"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 01/03/2019
Label: Throatruiner

The spite of Fange's aural barrage is both terrifying and exhilarating, enhanced by an oppressive, ominous atmosphere and is highly recommended for anyone who wants to hear crusty sludge being twisted into weird new forms.

“Punir” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Ceinturon
2. Chien De Sang
3. Les Boyaux De La Princesse
4. Opinel
5. Il Reconnaîtra Les Siens
6. Maintien De L'Ordre
7. Second Soleil

The Review:

Fange are setting the bar high for filthy heaviness in 2019 with new LP “Punir”. Familiar elements can be detected within the Rennes quartet’s sonic onslaught but they bring them together to create their own unique brand of horrible noise. 

Ceinturon” rips into life with a cloud of buzzing evil riffage that sets expectations for a no-nonsense crusty death metal hellride. While a lot of “Punir” delivers on these expectations, there is a whole lot of other unexpected nastiness going on too. The previously mentioned opener and “Les Boyaux De La Princesse” take the listener on intense journeys into the heart of darkness, melding punk metal filth with lumbering weighty sludge. The spite of Fange's aural barrage is both terrifying and exhilarating, enhanced by an oppressive, ominous atmosphere. The ever-present cloud of reverb that cloaks proceedings and the heavy use of chorus-laden lead guitar creates an awkward, uneasy feel that sits somewhere between gothy post-punk, black metal and noise rock. This strangeness serves to intensify and amplify the surrounding carnage and lends “Punir” a very distinctive sound.

Opinel” and “Maintien De L'Ordre” offer two brief left turns into pure noise, agonised howls and programmed beats. Although short, these tracks demonstrate the full breadth of Fange's sonic arsenal and could easily support an album of their own. The pay-off of “Opinel” in particular begs for more material like this, coming across like Death Grips being played through a stereo that has been thrown down a flight of stairs, then set on fire. The climax of closer “Second Soleil” utilises these noisy electronic elements within the context of their more metallic material to great effect. The unexpectedly subdued finale creates a hypnotic air of dread by opting for a slow floor tom heavy thud which soon becomes swamped by distorted beats and rising tides of hissing static. 

Punir” is a punishing release from Fange, highly recommended for anyone who wants to hear crusty sludge being twisted into weird new forms.

Punir” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Saturday 2 March 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Overkill, "The Wings of War"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/02/2019
Label: Nuclear Blast 

Overkill have never made a bad album and with “The Wings of War” they have made another good one. I expected nothing less and once again Overkill have delivered

“The Wings of War” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Last Man Standing 5:49
2. Believe In The Fight 5:03
3. Head Of A Pin 5:56
4. Bat Shit Crazy 4:33
5. Distortion 6:09
6. A Mother's Prayer 3:58
7. Welcome To The Garden State 4:42
8. Where Few Dare To Walk 5:25
9. Out On The Road-Kill 4:41
10. Hole In My Soul 4:47

The Review:

Overkill roar back into action two years after “The Grinding Wheel”. I reviewed that beast at the time and judged it to be a continuation of their superb run of form since 2010's “Ironbound”. “The Grinding Wheel” was somewhat meandering in song structure and perhaps dipped just a little before the middle of the record in terms of energy and catchiness.

“The Wings of War” sees the band with a new drummer- Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall fame- who was expected by many to bring the band a new enthusiasm and perhaps some musical changes. Ron Lipnicki was the best drummer Overkill had up until his departure and his contributions in terms of energy and bringing the real thrash back cannot be overstated. It was Lipnicki, in my view, who played on the band's very best records and his precise and wildly energetic style was a major plus point from “Immortalis” onwards.

Bittner brings similar energy and plays a blinder here- lots of fills where the kick drums reinforce the stick patterns and lots of fills where the hands and feet answer each other. Bittner is the state of the art in terms of thrash drumming and the band could not have found a better replacement.

Regarding the rest of the record, Overkill have continued to keep their output quality astonishingly high. The first four tracks are absolute rippers. The opener “Last Man Standing” builds via a machine like intro to a classic Overkill thrasher, “Believe In The Fight” is more varied in tempos but similarly aggressive. “Head of a Pin” starts slower but introduces a familiarly swinging time feel that Overkill excel at when they use it. “Bat Shit Crazy” is a heavy and catchy beast and made for the live arena. So far, business as usual.

If “The Wings of War” differs from recent records it is in song length- only one track exceeds six minutes and most are concisely under five minutes. “Distortion”, the longest track is also one that I have not taken to yet; it is slower, meaner, moodier... nothing wrong with that as I love Overkill's 'different' albums such as “I Hear Black”- which was a Sabbath influenced murky metal record. However, the long intro leads to... another intro before the track starts its insistent mid tempo groove. To be fair, “Distortion” is not a bad track but it does break up the momentum of the previous 40% of the album. It has a killer ending, but the hooks here just don't do it for me. The distorted bass that heralds “A Mother's Prayer” is  a much needed wake up call, but again the track does not thrash as hard as the opening four tracks. It's still thrash, but with a hefty dose of traditional heavy metal in there as well.

The comparative energy dip of the preceding two tracks is consigned neatly to the past when “Welcome To The Garden State” kicks off after a textbook “Noo Joisey” sample. Overkill excels at this type of thrash/punk hybrid when they choose to write them. It leaps out of the speakers and really kicks off the latter half of the record. Encompassing as it does the band's pride in their home state and their fuck-you-too attitude it promises to be a big live staple and a fan favourite at home and abroad. A killer that doesn't take itself too seriously.

The final three tracks keep the quality high and the material varied. This is not a straightforward thrash album like, say, “Electric Age” and instead mixes the band's thrash, groove and Sabbath influenced material to good effect. “Where Few Dare To Walk” is a good example of a slower Overkill power house. It's moody and dark and it WORKS. The track is more heavy metal than thrash and those seeking an adrenaline hit are pointed to the album opener, but this is quality metal.

The band go for the throat on “Out On The Road-Kill” and turn in a song that would have fitted neatly on 90's crusher “From The Underground and Below”. It grooves and hammers its point home with thrash and finesse- not to mention a killer solo.

The album closes strongly with “Hole In My Soul” which features a kind of smorgasbord of the album as a whole- it has a moody intro, thrash tempos, a fair amount of melody in the vocals and superb individual performances from all band members. Bittner's drums are mechanically precise and superbly produced. The triggered sound of previous records is present here and if you listen to early thrash albums these days, you can hear just how much extreme metal has benefited from technological advancements in recording. Verni's bass is as crushing as ever while the guitar duo of Linsk and Tailer is rock solid as per. Bobby Blitz Ellsworth continues to defy age and gravity with his soaring screams and is the major recognisable factor in Overkill's sound.

Overall, then, “The Wings of War” represents a continuation of the run of form that Overkill have held for the last decade while also ringing the changes in terms of variety of material. This is a more melodic and slightly more restrained work than the previous four albums. In my view, it is as strong as “The Grinding Wheel” but does not quite reach the godly heights of “Ironbound”, “Electric Age” or “White Devil Armory”. For a band going since 1980 (!) whose frontman is pushing 60 years old, the energy levels on display here are incredible. Overkill have never made a bad album and with “The Wings of War” they have made another good one. I expected nothing less and once again Overkill have delivered

“The Wings of War” is available HERE

Band info: official || facebook