Sludge tends to be a catch-all genre term these days. I find it seems to apply to a whole lot of different sounds that aren’t quite alike but there’s nowhere else to put them. Does your band make big riffs but not at a snail’s pace? You’re sludge now. Do you like a whole lot of fuzz on your guitars but you don’t quite sound like a metal band? You’re sludge, too. Are you Southern? You’re also sludge! It makes some sense since sludge metal is one of the newer subgenres we’ve developed, and it tends to draw in a lot of more experimental musicians. So in a way, the Ditch and the Delta are the perfect example of why eclectic and experimental metal bands are named sludge.
Salt Lake City’s sludgy noise trio came about in 2014, and their Facebook page gives a pretty excellent description of exactly what they do. They combine the heaviness of Neurosis and the twistedness of the Melvins with a need for hooks and melody. It’s a combo that many try to emulate in order to express their version of the nitty gritty filth. There’s a chaotic element to what they do with progressive songwriting coming into play to further mix up their rhythms and riffs. This is what makes the trio unique; a desire to make different music differently.
The first thing to really grab me is that off-kilter sense they bring to songwriting. It’s as sludge as it gets when something reminds you of Grief. Sure, the heavy riffs that feel like hammers to your ears contributes a lot of the presence of the Ditch and the Delta, but I would argue that the songwriting style adds to that feeling in a very major way. First is the vocal style. It’s just shouting with no distorted vocals or any kind of effects. It makes the music seem extremely angry, like someone is loosing a righteously indignant screed. Vocalist and bassist Kory Quist must have replaced his vocal cords with chains.
But a more important part of that heaviness comes from a feeling you get from the music. At every point in every song, there’s always something taking a front stage. It constantly shifts your focus to a new aspect in every song. Guitars, vocals, and drum fills all demand your attention in turn while the bass holds it all together. The kinetic shift you feel keeps your mind ready for the next change. It sums up into sludgy chaos you need when you put on a record like this.
There is a lot of anger on this record. You can just feel it through every riff, every shout, every drum fill. This down and dirty record exudes with a kind of angry nihilism only a few can translate to normal people. If that’s the kind of sound you need, you’ve got the soundtrack you need. This year, you might need to just sit in your anger and let yourself experience that sense. The Ditch and the Delta got you covered.
The Ditch and the Delta is available now via Prosthetic Records.