If there’s one album that could launch a band into the stratosphere this year, it’s Sleeping Lions, the third outing from Las Vegas mob Otherwise. Mark my words: this album is prepped and packaged for the radio airwaves, plus almost every track sounds capable of inciting an arena-sized singalong, but that’s not always a bad thing. Their previous album cracked the Billboard 200 at number 50. This could surpass that. If they catch their big break with this record, the general population of rock enthusiasts will find something to appreciate about Otherwise. Generic? Absolutely. But it knows what it is.
A beetle makes its way across the otherwise spotless carpet. Not a particularly large specimen, it waddles in a characteristically militant and somewhat jagged rhythm. It reminds me of Bryan Devendorf’s opening drum barrage in “Squalor Victoria”. It’s from The National’s Boxer, if you’re unfamiliar.
Anyone else remember the good ol’ days of mathcore and grindcore on Myspace circa 2008? Chaotic hardcore, grindcore, and deathcore blended in a menagerie of inaccessible weirdness. The Dillinger Escape Plan, Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, Psyopus, See You Next Tuesday, and The Number Twelve Looks Like You were among some of the highlights. They just don’t make metal like that much anymore, and what’s troubling is that only one of those five bands will be active come 2017 — No. 12 — and they’ve broken up once before already.
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.
Metalsucks’s Axl Rosenberg and Chris Kovatin (also of Revolver) have joined us this week to talk about their upcoming book that chronicles the history of metal, Hellraisers: A Visual History of Heavy Metal Mayhem! Of course, I steer the train hard off the rails, so we have a great time talking about a bunch of topics, including but not limited to: the book itself, Phil Labonte, Decapitated getting arrested, racism in metal, the business of running a metal blog, and much more! This was a hilarious time and I’m glad that I got to chat with Axl and Chris. Hellraisers is really cool and it comes out October 2nd, so go pre-order it!