Wednesday 29 April 2020

REVIEW: Pale Mare, "EP II"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 03/04/2020
Label: Seeing Red Recods |
Ancient Temple Recordings

“EP II” CS//DD//CD//LP track listing:

1.House Of War

The Review:

Finally, a punishing power trio! These three purveyors of pummelling punk infused stoner metal hail from Toronto, Canada. The frozen north is, it seems, a fertile breeding ground of riffs and noise. This is a four track EP that is nearly as long as “Reign in Blood” by Slayer, so no complaining about value for money.

Opener “House of War” is reminiscent perhaps of “Surrounded By Thieves” era High on Fire, so the band set out their stall straight away: it's heavy, dirty and pitched somewhere between early Mastodon, early High on Fire, Conan and the punkier likes of Black Tusk. “Zealot” is perhaps a little more straightforward rhythmically but is just as punishing.

“Voidgazer” is heavier still and bludgeons the listener with repetition in a style closer to sludge or modern doom. The closing nine minute opus of “Remains” is the most complex track here and it shows the band in epic mode, making use of dynamics and also paying ferociously. All told, this is a solid EP and fans of any of the comparative bands mentioned

“EP II” is available HERE

Band info: Facebook || Bandcamp

Tuesday 28 April 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: The Black Dahlia Murder, "Verminous"

By: Thomas Gonzales

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/04/2020
Label: Metal Blade Records


“Verminous” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. "Verminous" (3:50)
2. "Godlessly" (3:28)
3. "Removal of the Oaken Stake" (4:26)
4. "Child of Night" (3:38)
5. "Sunless Empire" (3:58)
6. "The Leather Apron's Scorn" (3:34)
7. "How Very Dead" (3:07)
8. "The Wereworm's Feast" (4:36)
9. "A Womb in Dark Chrysalis" (Interlude) (0:48)
10. "Dawn of Rats" (4:28)

The Review:

Billboard top 200 Extreme Metal masters The Black Dahlia Murder need no introduction, and blast (back) onto the scene with their 9th full length studio album “Verminous”.

After “Ritual” (their 5th release) topped #32 on the charts, The Black Dahlia Murder has become one of the most mainstream successful bands in Death Metal; seeing great success with each successive launch, “Verminous” will likely be another hit under their belts. Where “Ritual” felt like a final evolution in the band’s sound, “Verminous” feels very much like a return to form, regressing with each release back to a distilled concentration of aggressive and horror laced death metal.

Tracks, “Godlessly” and “The Wereworm’s Feast” open hard, with pummeling double bass, and shredding riffs, setting up the best bangers on the album. “Godlessly” has the type of hook that will get stuck in your head all day, headbanging and fist pounding along to the music between your ear space. “Child of the Night” may be the standout track however, starting with a prominently featured bass groove, that gives way to breakneck rhythms, and the nastiest bridge on the album. “Verminous” is down and dirty Death Meat, definitely a must listen for the black cloths and big beards crowd.

Like the now iconic 2007 album “Nocturnal”, there are moments of discordant melodies interspersed with guitar flourishes, and pulse racing drums, but at the end of the day, the focus here is darkness, and brutality. To put things simply, “Verminous” is good, like, “Nocturnal” good. It may never reach the iconic level of its predecessor, but the sheer adeptness with which The Black Dahlia Murder composes their music, is something deserving of recognition. It is hard NOT to draw comparisons with past works, but there is something to be said about a band that has been around for 19 years, helped define the genre, and still feels as fresh as ever.

“Verminous” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday 27 April 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Cirith Ungol, "Forever Black"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/04/2020
Label: Metal Blade Records

“Forever Black” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1.The Call
2. Legions Arise
3. The Frost Monstreme
4. The Fire Divine
5. Stormbringer
6. Fractus Promissum
7. Nightmare
8. Before Tomorrow
9. Forever Black

The Review:

Cirith Ungol are, against all odds, back. Drums, guitars and vocals are handled by the band members who played on the classic albums. Second guitar is handled by a member from the band's later period while only the bassist is a newcomer. The line up matters, as really this is as close as it is possible to get to a fully reformed band. Cirith Ungol's influence and reputation really cannot be overstated- they featured Elric (from Michael Moorcock's books) on their album covers and thus brought the fantasy/sword and sorcery element to metal, treading a path that the likes of Led Zeppelin and Ronnie James Dio had trod before them. They made one of the first trad doom albums in “King of The Dead”. They are a true underground cult band with a devoted following.

After several decades of no music, can the band still cut it?! The answer, pleasingly for everyone is YES. This album is a wonderful thing. It sounds warm and natural with an organic production. Tim Baker's voice remains intact and as idiosyncratic as ever. The songs are there. After a minute long intro, “Legions Arise” serves as a call to arms for the Ungol faithful and it is a joy to behold with excellent guitar passages and great performances.

The quality control does not let up over the course of the following seven tracks (along with the intro, there are nine tracks total). It's really hard to pick highlights; “The Frost Monstreme”, “The Fire Divine”- they are just quality compositions full of the real, old school Cirith Ungol vibe. “Stormbringer” (Elric again) closes the first half/side one of the record and it is an atmospheric epic. It's almost so good, I can scarcely believe it.

Musically, the band are still mixing classic hard rock with heavy metal and doom, with liberal use of a cowbell to be heard on several tracks. The guitar work is excellent throughout and the bass work of Jarvis Leatherby also stands out- seamless continuity from their previous releases, essentially. The likes of “Fractus Promissum” and “Nightmare” groove really convincingly.

Cirith Ungol have always been a pretty concise band- there is nothing beyond six minutes in run time here, so nothing is wasted. The writing is consistently good- well laid out song structures with enough recognisable hooks and changes to keep the modern day metaller interested. Of the remaining songs, “Before Tomorrow” is doomy and dark, whilst the title track is full of menacing riffage and drama. If they don't manage to make another album, for whatever reason, then this one will more than suffice. It's better than fans could have hoped for.

Without question, this will be the comeback album of the year. It sits proudly alongside anything else the band have done and is a credit to those involved that they can still do this after nearly five decades. This is unique rock/metal/doom from the original masters. A dramatic and fulfilling return.

“Forever Black” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday 24 April 2020

ALBUM PREMIERE: RESENT summon the sickness on vomit soaked sludge debut "Crosshairs"

Formed in 2017, in Victoria BC, today’s SLUDGELORD debutant RESENT, offer us ugliness plain and simple. Their music is disdainful and vomit drenched sludge and the six tracks that make up their debut LP “Crosshairs” is certain to make you reach for the vomit bucket.
The band draws heavily on the classic '90s sludge sound made 'famous' by Grief, Noothgrush, Corrupted, et al, but somehow manages to drag it further down into the putrid filth from which it was spawned, with the entire record reaching the despairing lows of the nastiest, bleakest moments of Meth Drinker.

It is our absolute fucking pleasure to debut “Crosshairs” in full below and you can order a copy on vinyl via the following labels  Dry Cough Records (UK) Nerve Altar (US) & Rope Or Guillotine (Netherlands)

Thursday 23 April 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Elder, "Omens"

By: Andrew Field

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/04/2020
Label: Stickman Records

“Omens” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Omens
2). In Procession
3). Halcyon
4). Embers
5). One Light Retreating

The Review:

“Omens” is the destination Elder have been promising to arrive at since 2011’s “Dead Roots Stirring”. If “Lore” (2015) and “Reflections of a Floating World” (2017) were the building blocks, “Omens” is the finished product and a staggering summation of all that makes this powerhouse quartet so essential in 2020.

The fearlessness with which they’ve approached this record is testament to their confidence and maturity, gained from 15 years of honing their craft. Across five songs and 56 minutes Elder take the listener on a sonically beautiful journey whilst lyrically – as ever – things are notably darker. That light and shade pays off time and time again as “Omens” envelopes you. Put on your headphones and wonder at the detail, which is at times breath-taking.

Nick DilSalvo is on record as saying the writing process for “Omens” was long and tedious but rewarding. You honestly wouldn’t know. It all sounds so natural, with the ebb and flow of their technically dense music made fully accessible for the first time. “Omens” is by far the best-sounding Elder album: every instrument breathes and has its own clear space in the mix.

The appeal of “Omens” is encapsulated in its title track, which opens the record. It’s an 11-minute modern progressive psychedelic masterpiece featuring chiming guitars and Michael Risberg’s keyboard flourishes and wooshes. It brings to mind, wide open spaces, traveling and moving, forward motion. It is both of the 1970s and of now. Much like Jack Donovan’s beloved Rush, “Omens” is their Clockwork Angels to Lore’s Moving Pictures: an album that could only have been made when you’ve paid your dues and really learned how to do things. Donovan’s fingers still delightfully run up and down his fretboard. DiSalvo still picks at his strings and creates delightfully original motifs. The dirt under the fingernails of their stoner doom years has largely gone now, and that’s not a bad thing at all based on the evidence presented here.

“In Procession” is stunning. It builds from a wah guitar entrance into a DiSalvo picked riff over which an echo-drenched keyboard tinkles and chimes, before abruptly opening up into a massive heavy passage which is pure “Lore”. The second half of this 13-minute epic is where Elder really fly. It’s a majestic, serene, dynamic passage built over a deft and light George Edert shuffle. It will cover you in goosebumps.

Elsewhere “Embers” throws you right off guard, starting like The Tragically Hip with its college rock vocals before morphing into a pure prog section full of time changes and sweeping chords.  Album closer “One Light Retreating” is a better sounding “Reflections”: the spirit of “Lore” meets jamming of “The Gold and Silver sessions”. Yet whilst it pays back to those albums, it sounds completely distinct from them. 

Like all the best albums, “Omens” rewards repeated listens. Once familiar with its themes and structure you will find yourself focusing on the intricacies which lie within its grooves, those magic moments which make the record so interesting and special. Once it’s under your skin you’ll likely want to immerse yourself in it for an extended period of time, coming back to it time and again. 

It’s exciting that Elder are still exploring, still diversifying, still developing their sound and style. The results of their recent labours are masterful and electrifying. We might only be in April, but “Omens” is an early candidate for album of the year.

“Omens” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday 22 April 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: InTechnicolour, "Big Sleeper"

By: Peter Morsellino

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 21/02/2020
Label: Big Scary Monsters (UK) |
Art As Catharsis (AU)

“Big Sleeper” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Miami Funk
2). Under The Sun
3). Shaker
4). Big Sleeper
5). Gallonman
6). Doomer
7). Lend Me A Crushed Ear
8). Slow Moth
9). Tortoise

The Review:

Mark this one on your calendars, Stoner Rock fans, you won't want to miss out.  InTechnicolour have crafted a work of art on “Big Sleeper”, one that will nuzzle its way onto your playlists for good.  With a mix of rock solid riffs and some of the catchiest hooks in the genre, this one is no doubt a winner.

Full disclosure here folks, every song in this album will get stuck in your head. This thing is infested with earworms, and you will welcome them.  If you can't commit to having some fantastic stoner jams floating around your head for a good long while, you might do well to stay away. However, you will be missing out on something amazing.  This just might be stoner rock's big shot, and you're gonna want to get in on the ground floor.

First things first, these guys can write a goddamn song. From radio ready desert rock singalongs to droning doom metal dirges, every one of these songs is mastercrafted.  Vocal harmonies create a very warm and welcoming place for the listener.  Something about them just feels good and leaves you wanting more of it. Guitars flip through every page of stoner rock standbys and beyond, feeling just as natural when leading a fuzzed out assault or bouncing through a poppy hook. The rhythm section keeps things tight, while a playful swinging allowance keeps things very interesting. 

InTechnicolour shines brightest at its ugliest (which is still catchy as hell).  Songs like “Gallon Man” offer up the best of all possible worlds. Dark riffing lends depth to a melancholic grungy rocker while swirling atmospheres add a very welcome trippiness to what could be a real downer. Even at their most glum, the band keeps things grooving, and the overall fun of this release is not hampered.

Whether crafting fist pumping rockers or gloomy dirges, InTechnicolour does it expertly. This is the dawn of a new era of stoner rock. An era of legitimacy and respect. Early as it is, “Big Sleeper” will be making it onto album of the year lists. I can guarantee it. This is something big. On February 21, it began.

“Big Sleeper” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday 21 April 2020

REVIEW: Hazemage & Tombtoker, "Hazemage/Tombtoker"

By: Peter Morsellino

Album Type: Split
Date Released: 20/03/2020
Label:  Independent

“Haze Mage/Tombtoker” Split CD//DD track listing:

1). Haze Mage, “Sleepers”
2). Hazemage, “Pit Fighter”
3). Tombtoker, “Braise the Dead”
4). Tombtoker, “Botched Bastard”

The Review:

It seems there has often been some confusion when defining doom metal and sludge. And truthfully, I am often in that same boat.  What kind of music does Crowbar play?  Or Down?  I'm not talking about what it says on their wikipedia, but what do you hear when you listen?  I think there is a lot of overlap to what are essentially different sides of the same coin. What we have here today, folks, is an example of perfect musical duality.

With this masterfully done split from Haze Mage and Tombtoker, we're going to examine those different sides, and explore the overlap. I think we'll find that these bands, whatever you want to call them, go great together.

Haze Mage kick off the split with “Sleepers” and some solid 70's inspired jamming. The track rocks organically without needing to force their musical aesthetic on the listener. The dual guitar leads create an amazing effect that brings to mind those glory days of 70's hard rock.  Pit Fighter” is a very different sound with a driving, rolling beat. This one will make you want to move for sure. The guitar solo with its creepy minor key tones brings a smile to my face everytime I hear it.

Tombtoker on the other hand, start things off with a bang.  Braise the Dead” is a great opener, with its hypnotic and groovy riffs. Drum work is amazing in its variations while holding a steady beat that's as heavy as anything you'll hear today. Vocals lie comfortably in the death metal range, which compliments the fuzzy stoner sludge sound perfectly.  Botched Bastard” keeps things going with some old school style riffing. This one maintains a pretty slower pace, keeping up with the heaviness we've come to expect.  The bass is allowed a little more of the spotlight, which for me personally, is a huge thumbs up.

Overall these bands both bring it hard here. With very different sounds showcased on each half of the split, this one offers a whole lot of bang for your buck. Whether you're looking for some earth rattling sludge or some fantastical classic fuzz, you'll find it here. Thumbs up from me for sure.

“Hazemage/Tomstoker” is available HERE

Band info: Hazemage || TOMBTOKER

Monday 20 April 2020

6 NEW BANDS: The Sludgelord's "666 Pack Review" (March 2020)

By: Nikos Mixas

Ah, March....(yes we know it’s April but the editor is slow) Normally I’d be writing something quippy regarding the onset of spring but in times of a worldwide pandemic, I won’t pretend not to notice that things are very different today in music or otherwise.  THE SLUDGELORD will still continue to call out lame bands, but at the same time, it’s still entertainment in the grand scheme of things and we need all we can afford during this epoch in time. BTW, 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 current events themed rating scale below: 

1 – So, why don’t you do us all a favor and self-quarantine your band until you’ve practiced some more.  
2 – Do your instruments a favor and don’t touch them anymore!
3 – Being average in times of hyper self-promotion will not bode well for this band. 
4 – You should live stream your practices, this is good stuff.      
5 – Have you thought about touring once this blows over?  
666THE SLUDGELORD commends your hard work, talent and overall persistence to bring joy to our ears in times of gloom.  Congrats again! 

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). Sundowner “Sundowner” – (Adelaide, Austrailia)    ating: 4

If Sleep and Weedeater made love.

2). Matador “They Were Here Before Us” – (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)   Rating: 4

Russian Circles and Pelican lovers rejoice. 

3). Charmstone “Charmstone” – (Valley Stream, New York, U.S.A.) Rating: 3

Non sludge rock band with balls.

4). Enshrine “Dying Bed w/ Fallen Prey”– (Belfast, Ireland)   Rating: 2

If The Cult tried to metal.

5). Dendrites “Grow” – (Volos, Greece)   Rating: 5

They make a nice souvlaki soundscape.

6). Vault “Dread Within” – (Fortaleza, CE, Brazil) Rating: 2

Genre confusion reigns supreme here.

Band info: Sundowner || Matador || Dendrites || Vault 

ALBUM REVIEW: Geezer, "Groovy"

By: Chris Markwell

Album Type:  Full Length
Date Released: 12/06/2020
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds Records

“Groovy” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1.) Dig
2.) Atlas Electra
3.) Dead Soul Scroll
4.) Awake
5.) Groovy
6.) Drowning On Empty
7.) Slide Mountain
8.) Black Owl

The Review:

Let me get this straight: Geezer are a groovy band?
Yes, but also, they have a new album which is called Groovy.
I see.  So, groovy band Geezer create groovy record Groovy.  Which sounds… groovy. 

Well, this sounds… harmonious. 

In all seriousness, New York’s stoner trio have put their needle down and hit the groove just right on their upcoming release, due out 12th June 2020 and released from Heavy Psych Sounds Records.  It’s following on from 2017’s “Psychoriffadelia” LP, and the 2019 EP “Spiral Fires”, and “Groovy” certainly does exactly what it says on the tin.  I’m honestly trying not to judge a book by its cover, but when the cover literally says what to expect, and the music delivers on that expectation… I mean, what’s a boy to do?

Groove is in the heart, so saith the Lord, and Geezer duly preach the word on this album.  If Pantera were a power groove band, Geezer are their stoner equivalent.  Each of the eight songs on display here are geared to make your body move to their rhythm.  I dare you – I double dare you – to try and listen through without tapping your foot or nodding your head.  It’s impossible. 

Like a mellowed out Kyuss jamming with Clutch, Geezer sound heavy without having to be frantic about it.  The album’s songs are meticulously paced to make you move at a cruising speed, rather than a pedal to the metal frenzy.  It makes for a much more laid-back journey, ‘Atlas Electra’ being a fine example of this.  It uses slide guitar, multiple guitar overdubs on the solos, and a steady building of texture to turn it from this initially simple riff and drum duet, to this rolling juggernaut of slow speed but undeniable force and power.  

The title track of the album includes Hammond organs, an overture of thick guitar riffs, bass badassery and drum domination which reminded me of a souped-up version of Electric Eel Shock’s ‘My Favourite No. 9’, with ‘Groovy’ being an ode to the raw joy of music, unlike EES’s ode to lead singer Akihito Morimoto’s favourite things in life.  Groovy’ comes from a pure power source: a genuinely feel-good stoner smash that draws a smile on your face that would rival the Cheshire Cat’s. 

“Groovy” by name, groovy by contents.  Eight standout love songs to the gorgeous witch that is the Sick Riff.  Ash from the Evil Dead would absolutely rock to this while shopping smart… shopping S-Mart. 

“Groovy” is available HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Dirt Woman, "The Glass Cliff"

By: Peter Morsellino

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 13/03/2020
Label: Grimoire Records

“The Glass Cliff” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Lady of the Dunes
2). Creator
3). Fades to Greed
4). Demagogue
5). Starhawk

The Review:

Calling back to a simpler time, a time to just veg out with headphones implanted firmly in your ears while examining album artwork and floating blissfully on a cloud of riffs, Dirt Woman unleash their latest work of fuzzed out psychedelia on a world desperately in need of a distraction.  The Glass Cliff” invites you in with welcoming arms and let's the listener settle into a comfortable bed of fuzz that is very difficult to rise from.

At once classic and modern, Dirt Woman offer up a delightful and refreshing sound to the doom metal world.  With fuzz drenched riffs pounding into a peaceful atmosphere crafted by the hypnotizing vocals of Zoe Koch, “The Glass Cliff” is a sonic work of art.  In addition to providing uniquely surreal vocal stylings,  Koch shares the riff work with guitarist Gabe Solomon and bassist Kearny Mallon, keeping a lock on their 70's inspired doom riffs and thrilling listeners with thought provoking lead parts. Drummer Avery Mallon is in no way to be overlooked with his eclectic grooves and subtle variations keeping things interesting throughout the album's longer dirges.  
Powerhouse album opener “Lady of the Dunes” gets things rolling with stoney jams and earth shaking riffs.  Koch's vocals really shine upon their introduction, so be on the lookout and be prepared to be impressed.  A brain rattling bridge dripping in several different flavors of fuzz takes the already amazing track to the next level.  It's a wonder that the rest of the album can keep up this level of creativity and workmanship, but it does so with ease. 

“The Glass Cliff” elevates this Maryland quartet miles above their already impressive 2018 debut with expert production work and a seemingly endless expanse of imagination. Dirt Woman swing with full force here and they hit it right out of the park. Most certainly a band to keep an eye on.

“The Glass Cliff” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook