Ezekiel’s Hags should have listeners harking back to the days of scanning CD racks for artwork that looked sick enough to spend money on. There’s one or two albums in every single music collection out there; one that was bought because it looked fly as fuck. In this case, one would be forgiven for picking up the new Seven Sisters Of Sleep record expecting a dope smoking, sleep inducing, dragon knot tome of smokey riffs and blazed crooning. One would be forgiven, but also incredibly mistaken. The promotional materials didn’t waste words when throwing out music journalist triggers like black, death, crust and doom. What wasn’t included in this material was a warning to how frickin’ enjoyable this beast is.
Wouldn’t be a calendar month of the year with Relapse putting out some sort of filth wizardry, this February just happens to be SSOL’s turn on the podium. The band hailing from “beneath the shadow of palms, in the sultry regions of the sun” (yep) explore areas well known to fans of extreme music from all walks. For the crusty Sunday morning hangover accompaniment, opening track “Jones” with it’s black/grind balls hanging out and proud. Needing a pick me up for the ride to work or to see someone that deserves little to none of your time and patience? “Third Season” and it’s dark, anthemic growl of a meandering drumbeat. Well thought out, meticulously riff mapped tracks that all carry their own weight in dank, distortion rich plainsong; plainsong for the doom worshiper masquerading as a grind freak.
Which makes this next paragraph a bit of a flip-flop. The main drawback with this record is the flat out doom material. “Sacred Prostitute” and “Ud-Nun” display the band’s know how with regards to changing up their chops and throwing in some out of turn influences and sounds; the band blaze through these with gusto that almost breaks out of the song itself. But on the simple, one riff doom tracks that pepper the tracklist, momentum is totally shot. These are big, beefy tracks that bludgeon and berate with a foreboding degree of dirge, it’s just that they tend to follow tracks that have more spin and spice. So it could be said that they’re not even bad tracks, but the order and placement of them definitely leaves something to be considered.
And the flip-flop is back. This record sounds immense. Masked grind style vocals are awesome, and when they lay on top of riffs as demonic and desecrated with overdrive as this they work even better. There’s not one minute of feedback or fuzz that doesn’t feel like it was crafted with the aide of a butt load of served up souls. It’s truly crushing stuff. The instant crowd pleaser of a riff in “Gutter” just booms out of the underworld, screeching high and mighty into the song’s veering turn into a traditional black metal gallop. If someone could plug self titled era Alice In Chains into a black metal machine, it wouldn’t be hard to see this being spat out the other end. It doesn’t matter whether SSOL are playing at rip neck speed or down far beyond the slow motion car crash pace of Primitive Man, this sounds carnal and utterly carnivorous. If Ezekiel’s Hags was an actor, it would be one universally regarded as having the ability to chewing the rest of the cast and the set into pieces with it’s delivery.
Seven Sisters Of Sleep’s Ezekiel’s Hags gets…