Many blessings unto you all, heaviest of Heavy Bloggers! The music releases are coming much harder and faster now that we’ve all gotten back into the swing of things, so keep your eyes peeled for those new releases. Being that it’s the dead of winter, it’s a perfect month for all things doom. Simply watch the February weather and know that the gloom is coming. You have nothing else occupying your time, obviously. No reason to go outside, so light some candles in a dark room and experience the impending sense of doom overtake you.
Sludge has really taken off this month. There have been a lot of great releases on that front, along with a few more experimental ideas. And of course a blog favorite is back which I’m quite sure I’m legally obligated to talk about. To the records!
Seer – Vol. 6
Did you say you wanted some real epic as hell doomy sludge? I don’t care, you’re getting it anyway. Vancouver’s Seer has been putting out some solid sludge since 2015 and continues the tradition with Vol. 6. The band continues to weave their grimy tales of fantasy and adventure in some dark land of cults and creatures, and it all works so well together that each consecutive release needs to be praised and celebrated.
With Vol. 6, Seer brings out what you want from them: a gigantic sludge sound with tales of dark fantasy. The bass booms in your headphones, the guitar solos will have you air noodling at your desk, and vocalist Bronson Lee Norton makes you grab for those invisible oranges you love so much. The band has created a deliciously deep sound that they continue to evolve on this latest release, and it shows just how well they’ve owned what they do.
The debut track, “Seven Stars, Seven Stones,” is a great example of what Seer can do. Chunky picked power chords underneath splashes of guitar licks set the scene. A lead guitar line of tremolo picking is supported by a synth base while the rest of the band chunks along. Then the vocals come in, telling the tales of mysterious sages and the assault on their temple. It’s the perfect scene for this combination of sludge and doom that sticks to being epically fantastic. My only problem with this record is that Seer had been very prodigious songwriters, so I’m hoping I won’t have to wait that long for a seventh volume.
Autism – Have you found peace?
I don’t know quite why sludge lends itself so well to post-metal, but every band that does sound just right. Lithuania’s Autism is such a band with their latest, Have you found peace?. The sludgy post-metal group has been putting out good work since 2012, but nothing they’ve yet released has the emotional weight of their latest release. Previous releases were mostly instrumental, but this latest offering features a lot of spoken word and vocals that tell a tragic story.
Have you found peace? tells the story of 2 friends who get in a terrible car accident one night when they were young. One of them becomes horribly burned by the event while the other is unscathed. They became distant and the unscathed friend is racked with guilt over his light injuries. He started writing to his friend only to discover that the friend went missing years ago and police had given up searching for him. The album revolves around those feelings and hoping that somewhere his friend knows solace. Quite the topic for some heavy-duty post-metal sludge.
The music is amazingly reflective of the topic at hand. There’s a depressive and contemplative nature to it like a dark curiosity you might have about the sadder things in life. The band brings in extra help with droning ambient synths throughout the record, adding to the atmosphere created by the band. The tracks also feature a lot of development and build-up which further adds to the contemplative nature of remembering a long-lost friend. Have you found peace? is a masterful work by true artists that should be savored moment by moment.
The Lights Inside the Woods – I & II
It’s not often we get to discuss folk on Doomsday, but luckily The Lights Inside the Woods is here to correct that error. The solo project of Jeff Morgan of Little Rock, AR, released 2 single tracks entitled I & II. Both records are excellent examples of how doom metal can get atmospheric and folky and seemingly tell a story without saying a word.
Though each track was its own release, you really have to consider them as a single work. They seem to have a similar sound to each other, and Morgan is sure to call out the artist who created the artwork, Lillian Aguinaga. The artwork displays 2 children entering a wood with a kind of spiral cloud formation overhead. II focuses on the spiral clouds as if the two children are looking directly into it. It goes quite well with the sound of the two tracks. Each track is 20 and 27 minutes long respectively, taking you on a true journey in full. It made me think of a child’s dream or maybe something like an alien abduction story. Truly a journey to experience either way.
The music itself is very atmospheric, serving both as an excellent work on its own or as an incredible soundtrack. The song trades equally between fairly straightforward rhythmic chord picking and more soundscapes like subtle synth chords and no frills hand drums. These track seriously came out of nowhere as Morgan previously released an album of thrash metal tracks under the name Madman Morgan. This is completely out of left field and is an incredible creation. It would be interesting to see what Morgan does next.
Bellrope – You Must Relax
If you’re listening to doom without good riffs, you’re doing it wrong. Bellrope is here to put you right. The Mannheim, Germany group take a page out of the Melvins playbook and mix big grimy riffs with a whole lot of noise to make something disgustingly engaging and just really special.
It would be a difficult thing to not tread over ground good friend Jordan already covered in our review, but one thing to note would be the album title. You Must Relax really feels like the opposite of the intent of this record. Relaxation would more likely come from something a bit more meditative and subtle. Bellrope is neither thing. It is ultimate amp and noise worship. Intro track “Hollywood 2001/Rollrost” is just random electronic and metallic squeals and squeaks combined with the painful yelps of a man experiencing untold emotions. Neither sorrowful nor painful, shouting for the sake of shouting can be unsettling for the simple reason that you just don’t know why it is.
The real stuff is just one track away. There’s still a lot of noise that adds to the scene, but “Old Overholt” is the riff rock you need. It’s big and fuzzy just like we all like on Doomsday. The inclusion of 2 bassists makes the whole thing even bigger and deeper. Distorted shouting over the cacophony makes it even bigger. Bellrope is simply too big to ignore. It is a bone rattling record of riffs, fuzz, noise, and sludge. You’d be doing yourself a massive disservice for not taking a spin. And remember: RELAX.
Primitive Man & Hell – Split
I wouldn’t be so gauche as to skip over a release from maybe the most evil sounding band ever, Primitive Man. Combine their pummeling blackened sludge with the crushing sludge doom of HELL and you’ve got yourself a doomy as hell release. The way these dudes can create such punishing music will continue to astound me, and this is just the latest example of what hell is definitely playing on repeat during torture sessions.
Primitive Man keeps the punishing wall of sound approach alive on their two offerings, “Oily Tears” and “Pitiful & Lonesome”. Both tracks serve as highlight reels for what Primitive Man does best. They slam you with all the distorted fuzz you can stand. The vocals are delivered much the same way that a buzzsaw might be delivered to someone’s face in a slasher movie. The bass is brought out to help establish a bleak and dour tone. The use of punishingly plodding paces just makes everything seem like the torture will never truly end. Primitive Man knows exactly what they want to do on any track and they do it quite well.
HELL makes a similarly dour tone though it’s the more subtle of the two. While Primitive Man chooses to oppress you with the baseball bat of a wall of amps, HELL instead creates an overly evil atmosphere. It reminds me of witch rock in that it seems vaguely occult and evil but hard to put your finger on exactly why. HELL’s only difference to those band is you know exactly how he did it. Warbled arpeggiated chords give the impression of a dilapidated building. There’s something in there you must see, but you better watch your step since the entire building could fall apart with one false move. The layers of reverb and echo over everything further engrain that image. The final drone on the central riff is equally evil. All in all, you’re looking at one evil damn split record. Maybe the most evil ever until someone can capture the actual sound of Satan torturing the wicked.