Welcome to Starter Kit, a new feature on Heavy Blog. The point of this feature is to expose you, dear reader, to a genre that you may not know much about, or may be interested in getting into but don’t know where to start. In it, one of us will be explaining a genre in brief, going into what it sounds like, common lyrical themes, and, most importantly, a few essential releases in the genre. The point is to get more people acquainted with various facets, sub-subgenres, and types of metal, offering an easy-to-digest listening experience and streamlined introductory guide.
Today’s genre is an oft-maligned type of deathcore, known as “sludgewave”. Characterized by incredibly slow breakdowns and midtempo beatdown sections, the genre owes just as much to hardcore bands like Harms Way as they do to their deathcore progenitors. Tracks usually consist of piecemeal riffs stringing together a series of heavy, violent breakdowns, usually consisting of slow chugs with layered tremolo riffs over them for further dissonance and a little bit of texture. It’s an angry, angry genre, and it’s highly physical in nature (it’s fair to say that probably somewhere around 20-25% of vocals in the genre are mosh calls). Guitars are typically downtuned heavily, if not extended-range or baritones, and the notes lean towards the excessively low side. With the chugs and extreme downtuning, it’s easy to confuse sludgewave with djent at first glance, but a bit of exploration will reveal some major differences between the two genres.
Lyrical topics are usually highly personal in nature, more often than not focusing on people that have caused the vocalist quite a bit of ire and stress. Depression, suicidal thoughts, and isolation also reign as kings among the genre’s themes, and many bands in the genre definitely use this overwhelmingly angry and aggressive style as an outlet for these sorts of demons.
Sludgewave is a genre full of excellent bands pushing the boundaries of just how downtempo and malignant deathcore can get, but compiled here, just for you, are three releases that serve as excellent places to start. The best way to go through would be down the list, but either of these three are good spots to begin familiarizing yourself with the genre.
Black Tongue – Falsifier
This is THE sludgewave release. Black Tongue are the fathers of the genre, and nothing has caused as many waves in the post-2010 deathcore scene as their first EP, Falsifier. This release alone has been responsible for more influence than just about anything since the very beginnings of deathcore as a genre, and for good reason: the combination of Alex Teyen’s disgustingly heavy vocals, midtempo stomp sections, and, of course, crushing breakdowns is absolutely killer. Definitely the right place to start: you wouldn’t want to go any further without knowing where it all truly began, would you?
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Genocide District – Revolutions
This is included more for the quality of the release than any particularly large contribution to the genre’s evolution. Each track on here is a great chunk of heavy beatdowns and earth-shattering chugs. The package is rounded by excellent vocals and powerful, if simplistic, drumming that makes sure everything punches as it should.
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Villains – 10 Code
“10 code” is police lingo for a suicide call, so going in, you can bet that this is going to be a heavy and deeply personal release. On the more “emotional” (whatever that means here) side of sludgewave, this release is 26 minutes of rumination suicidal thoughts and anxiety: the tortured screams and hardcore-style yells of the vocalist bring out the anguish hiding in the instrumentals, and the instruments match with dissonant shrieks torn from the guitars and hectic drumming. The grooves and breakdowns hit hard, as it’s on these sections where the vocalist stops pulling any punches, but overall, this is a fantastically-written EP. Everything fits properly into a nice package that explores a tormented soul through hard-hitting instrumentation and well-implemented vocals.