There’s an undeniable joy in watching something that has been preparing to pounce for so long finally take the leap. Where there was once stillness in the air, there is now a sense of urgency and the feeling of excitement. We as listeners should be thankful that we are not the ones on the receiving end of this violent lunge. The hunter in this case is singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, while the prey is the art she presents to the world. With her newest work, Hiss Spun, we not only see Chelsea in the moment of her victorious pounce, but we also have the great fortune of consuming her kill.
Subtlety isn’t a common approach when it comes to sludge metal, which rather favours blistering, distortion-focused guitars and thunderous drums since the notoriously volcanic heaviness of genre spearheads Electric Wizard and Weedeater. Although in a genre that finds it’s bands in a battle of extremes, seeing who can cause the most damage to the PA system with their amps, the 2010s have seen sludge been taken down a number of different avenues. We have Mastodon using it as a basis to conjure up progressive, multi-layered musical odysseys, Indian using noise experimentation to make it as hellishly freaky as possible, to Bongripper putting an emphasis on the direct riffs in creating a mood through repetition. However, we have Melbourne underground head-turners Sundr, dragging the style even further out to a much less assertive sound, yet a much more ethereal and tension-building experience on their vertiginous sophomore LP, The Canvas Sea.
A little while ago, Scottish atmospheric miscreants Falloch released This Island, Our Funeral on Candlelight Records. The record was a doozy, with our very own editorial darling Scott Murphy reviewing it and finding plenty to praise but enough to criticise also. By the end of the record, the black metal tag was long since painted over, with post-metal, folk and gaze sounds becoming more prominent. Fast forward to right this very second. Falloch have brushed the dust off their shoulders and blown out the candle on the last record with a refreshed lineup and delicately tinkered new sound. After sitting on Prospice for nearly a year they are finally ready to unload seven tracks of gorgeous, atmospheric music upon the world. Head on over the jump to hear the first track from the album, “Fata Morgana.”
When you do a comparison of different countries’ ratio of total land mass to number of good-quality heavy bands, there are probably only a couple places on the globe that manage to win out over Australia. This country is absolutely fucking packed with great heavy bands, from the larger and more obvious…
Sludge metal was born out of hardcore punk bands discovering Black Sabbath. The greatest sludge albums combine all the raw aggression and rage of hardcore with the slow tension and power of doom metal. Since its beginnings in late 80s, the genre has grown into punk’s willingness to experiment and created some of the most forward thinking metal albums of all time from the likes of Mastodon, Neurosis, and Isis. In other words, though sludge combines fairly simple ingredients, the results are almost always sophisticated.
We’ve covered a fair bit of ground with our Starter Kit series, where we select a handful of key records that highlight a niche musical style or penetrate the prolific status of a staple genre. Unfortunately, this format doesn’t lend itself to covering proto-genres—microcosms of musical history comprised of a specific set of albums released in a fixed period of time. But these movements are crucial to the evolution of our favorite genres, particularly when it comes to the trajectory of sludge metal. What’s become a multifaceted and often refined style was once a disparate lineage of bands from different genres who all applied the “sludge factor” in different measures. While you won’t find a dedicated section for proto-sludge at your preferred music store, the following albums an artists laid the framework for the modern sludge landscape. So whether your sludge purveyors of choice come from the atmospheric, blackened or progressive sects of he genre, they’re all indebted to the groundbreaking statements these albums made.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
At their cores, Desideratum and Below the House are linked; two sides of the same loss. Thom Wasluck has always channeled the entirety of himself into Planning for Burial, and on his Flenser debut with Desideratum, he manifested pure sorrow into a hazy blend of shoegaze and ambient drone metal. Yet, it’s on Below the House that Wasluck’s music truly morphs into “doomgaze,” as his songwriting has taken on a starkly more direct, cathartic approach to coping with life’s tribulations. Whereas Desideratum was an ode to internal suffering, Below the House is Wasluck’s outward diatribe against a callous world, unwavering in its cruelty but malleable to the glimmering hope lying beneath his lamentations.
Seminal post-metal band Isis have lived on very favorably in their postmortem years despite sharing their name with the most hated organization in the world. Their disbandment left a perfect legacy in a discography free of blemishes, and while their 2009 swan song Wavering Radiant was their most accessible release and fared lighter with its extended use of clean singing and Tool-esque instrumental passages, it’s still highly regarded as a masterpiece and genre classic — a classic that for the last 6 years remained unobtainable to many fans who missed the early stages of the vinyl revival.
It only makes sense that we come to an epiphany about “Voodoo Child” while listening to Minneapolis psychedelic sludge outfit, Maeth. After all, their latest release, Shrouded Mountain, is the sonic equivalent to knocking down a mountain and building it back up again. This record finds the band flexing their post-metal muscle, making the ebbs and flows of their signature aural growth and decay feel more effortless and natural than ever. By tightening things up and leaving behind the shorter transitory interludes from prior albums in favor of merging everything into what could be a singular song, Shrouded Mountain runs efficient, but overflows with atmosphere and.