Belgium’s Amenra are one of those bands that consistently produces quality material for a comparatively modest but incredibly devoted following. Having been around since 1999, collaborated and toured with a wide array of other acts, and even started their own artistic collective with Oathbreaker, Black Heart Rebellion and others called Church of Ra, Amenra are nothing if not dedicated to their craft. All the better that said craft happens to be a mesmerizing mix of doom, post-metal and hardcore.
There are few things in life that terrify me to my absolute core more than a shark attack. The complete powerlessness of the victim, being toyed with and torn to shreds by a creature alive and thriving in its element; a monarch mercilessly feeding uncontested. No control. No swift escape.…
Ufomammut are a strange band. Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat. The Italian trio of metallers moonlight as professional graphic artists in the Malleus art collective, and also have an expansive back catalog of albums that plunder elements of psychedelic, stoner, and sludge-infused doom with reckless abandon. Given this mix of styles, the band are fairly difficult to pigeon hole into any specific subgenre niche in metal. Which is simultaneously both one of the best things about their music and one of the worst aspects of it when trying to explain how they sound in a review. But bravely shall I endure for the cause.
Punk is a style we like to cover at Heavy Blog when we can but often times it gets a little buried or we get behind on what’s going on in that particular area of the Heavy World. So we’re going to try something new here. In this column we’ll recommend some of the best in (the broadest definition of) punk as we see it. Each month we’ll hit on some new releases, talk about the tours big and small, and, hopefully, get feedback from you, Dear Reader, if we miss something that we should feature out of the punk realm. There are a number of great places to get your fix of punk music and tour stories but we’re going to give you the Heavy Blog spin on that here with What’s Up, Punks. Enjoy!
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.
“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” – Aristotle There’s a certain magic to place particularly when viewed through the lens of the human position in it. Specific places can speak to us in hushed tones only available when we allow ourselves to be…
One of the main missions of music is to influence how we think and feel. The scientific possibilities for music to create altered states in humans transcending the aural into the psychological and beyond into physical manifestations have been studied at length. That the Journal of Music Therapy exists, among…
When bands return from 10 years away from the recorded word it’s logical for fans to expect *something* that sounds familiar. We want those echoes. The nostalgic pull at our heart strings for days of yore when we listened to “Band – Last Album” with such glee and aplomb that it would leave us wanting more, so much so that a decade later we will line up to ingest their latest offering. But realistically speaking, the question has to be asked how can we expect anything to be even remotely the same as it was after a prolonged period away from itself like that? Oxbow swaggers into the room to forcefully ask the audience this question on Thin Black Duke, their newest album coming hot on the heels of 2007’s The Narcotic Story (if Antarctica seems like terrific beachfront property to you).
Once incapable of fault as a household name in the world of metal, Mastodon have seen a lot of scrutiny following their 2009 prog opus Crack The Skye. It was an immediate critical hit and the general consensus was that it was an instant classic. Indeed, Crack the Skye still holds up and hasn’t aged much at all, but it did prove to be a turning point in the band’s career. The sludge metal pioneers slowed down, reigned in the technical showmanship, and started writing more straightforward rock songs in their own style and aesthetic. Crack The Skye’s followups The Hunter and Once More Round The Sun were by no means terrible, critically panned slogs, but the fanbase became divided over the clear stylistic evolution happening.