Anyone for a sludge odyssey in 3-parts? This steamroller crawls slipshod over the planet, splintering bone and reducing concrete blocks to rubble. Shit, what have we got under here? Well, there's shattered fragments of their own first full-length album, 'The Filth'. No longer are they just another NOLA sludge battering ram. I think I can also make out the remains of hipster doom and we'll have to access the dental records of all the bands that call themselves 'post-metal'. I've listened to some seriously boring sludge / post-metal albums in the last couple of years. Bands with all the right gear, the right tone, the checklist of misery, but it all seems like a prolonged act; 'Husks' feels like pure expression, the ash cloud spewing out the vent hole.
Over three lengthy pieces, there are few explorations or radical changes in style. So how do they keep this interesting? That's not easy to answer, but the best way I can put it is that not a single note is unnecessary or there for it's own sake; it's like they're playing at gunpoint and everything you hear is the combined outpourings of a four-way hive mind. I think they call it chemistry.
'Deadman / Rabbit' clears the decks with highly-focused intent. Frontman Shaun has blackened lungs of iron, and for all the ferocity, his diction is pretty clear. As its tempo slows in grinding agony, I'm 90% sure he bellows “TAKE IT TO THE SKY!!” I really hope he does, because that is is an outstanding line to drop at any time. Later, the beat stops, and a riff devastating enough to be the last riff ever made cements the track as one of the definitive opening statements in metal. When forlorn arpeggiated chords replace it, it fits perfectly, articulating a kind of sadness way beyond most tough guy sludge bands.
'Bear' is more dissonant and chaotic, decelerating then trudging forwards again as if exhausted from dragging its own substantial weight. This band take sonic inspiration from the tones of a variety of heavy subgenres, from death metal to grind, doom and hardcore (there's even some Rocky George-style guitar chorus in here); they do not attempt to play in these styles. It's an important distinction: it all still sounds like haarp, the emotional push of the songs coming from within rather than without.
The opening of 'Fox' carries a drone pathogen, strings ringing out clearly over red-eyed bass. This is soon eclipsed by a cycle of churning chords that reminds me of the merciless pounding of Brutal Truth's 'Collapse'. The song gets ever harsher, a dying planet; all signs of humanity being extinguished. Eventually, the guitar cuts out to a squeal of feedback and the rhythm section begins to disintegrate. The bass disappears, and drum by drum the depleting death throes are played out.
'Husks' really is catastrophically great, a drama unfolding at 5mph, leaving you wondering what damage the next subtle change will bring. I sense that the band have put in a huge effort to make a record that will stand the test of time. Through bloody-minded determination, they have succeeded. Phil Anselmo has also done a sterling job behind the desk in achieving the ideal balance between distorted heft and incisive clarity. Max out the Beards.
Posted: Wed 3 October 2012 Total Views: 467Views Today: 0