sludge

The Great Southern Buzzkill (Review: Koresh - Chump, 2013)

It's a testament to how varied the world of extreme metal has become when even a descriptive term as nuanced as 'sludge' has come to mean entirely different things to different people. Take London based riff merchants Koresh's latest for example; a release that falls firmly in the sludge category, and yet anyone expecting hour long dirges will likely come away disappointed. If, on the other hand, you've been on the hunt for a collection of filthy, Sabbath infused punk songs about Terry Wogan (and I'm pretty sure that's what I've been searching for my whole life, I just didn't know it yet), then you're in luck! Koresh's sound borrows from all the great sludge luminaries (you know the score by now, Eyehategod, Iron Monkey, Buzzoven, all that good stuff), but ramps up the speed, resulting in a furious blast of down-tuned nastiness.

The disjointed, lurching grooves of 'Bin Juice' are pretty damn irresistible, whilst the aforementioned 'Wogan' sounds like a bunch of meth fiends fumbling their way through 'Electric Funeral' (in the best possible way, of course) and the supremely titled 'Adolf Hipster' wouldn't sound out of place on a later Black Flag record. In fact, the closest they get to that standard sludge dirge is on 'Cheer Up Glasgow', but even then their tongue remains firmly in cheek!

These guys fit right into that lineage of filthy, punked up sludge that the UK seems to do so well. Indeed, with their dual vocal approach and heavy punk influence, it's tempting to view them as spiritual successors to Nottingham sludge heroes Bumsnogger, and anyone who dug that band's lairy, booze soaked take on the genre will also find much to enjoy here. There's a subtle noise rock influence at play here too, most noticeable in the massive sounding closer 'You Can Call Me Gaahl', but it also manifests itself in a number of quirky, weird riffs that occasionally shine out from between the sludgy murk (check out that bizarre, jazzy little break in the midst of opener 'Straight Edge Till Midnight'.)

There's also a strong sense of good ol' fashioned, hard rocking fun; if Eyehategod are the sound of the worst comedown you've ever had, then Koresh are surely the delirious sense of intoxicated jubilation that followed the night before. Koresh may not set the world alight, but they're a fine addition to the already impressive Witch Hunter Records roster - plus they're sure to absolutely destroy any venues they hit in support of this EP, and ultimately, isn't that what really matters? - Kez Whelan

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The Whole Five Inches (Review: Noothgrush / Suppression Split)

Well, well, well, what do we have here? A forgotten relic from the golden days of late 90’s powerviolence, finally unearthed and distributed on a dainty little 5” disc (the needle drop for this one is an operation that requires military precision – kids, don’t try this without an adult present!) by the fine folk at Fuck Yoga Records.

Let’s not beat around the bush - “Flee From Hunger And Disease” is classic Noothgrush. This track was recently exhumed on ‘Live for Nothing’, the band’s Southern Lord issued live compilation, but this is the first time its studio counterpart has been unleashed on the general public – and what a beauty it is! Every slow, punishing note is imbued with that crippling weight and unmistakeable sense of malice that has always marked this band out as one of sludge’s finest practitioners, who are somehow able to sound enormously energetic even whilst churning away on the most lethargic of sluggers. The song ends with the trio riding one of those gloriously fucked up but boldly groovy trademark riffs into a fade out that always leaves me clamouring for more!

I’ll ‘fess up that I was totally unfamiliar with Suppression before hearing this split; needless to say, I’d be kicking my own arse right now if these guys hadn’t just beaten me to it and blasted my posterior into a bloody pulp. These guys sound pissed, not in the sense of “hey, let’s down a few beers with our buddies and play some fast tunes” pissed, but the kind of “I haven’t eaten in days, I’ve just been laid off, my house has burnt down, and slamming on these six strings is the only thing stopping me from going postal and wiping out as much of the world’s population as I possibly can” pissed that few bands are able to function under. After a quick bit of brain cell rearranging noise, the aptly titled “Amputated Brain Stem” bursts out of nowhere and absolutely destroys all in its path. This song has floored me every time I’ve spun it, and is a strong contender for the nastiest, most righteous slab of powerviolence I’ve heard this year. Considering said tune barely reaches the 40 second mark, that’s quite an accomplishment!

Don’t baulk at the size, as this is no mere novelty record. The short running time may be an enormous tease, but both these bands are on the top of their game here, and it would have been a most heinous crime if this tantalising morsel had been lost in the mists of time forever. It’s not every day a release boasts the best of sludge, noise and powerviolence and then delivers all that and more in the space of three minutes, and for that reason alone this little beauty deserves a cherished space in your collection.

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Crawling Through Sewage (Review: Swinelord, I Feel Fucked, 2012)

Some kind of radioactive waste must have recently slipped into Manchester’s water supply – that’s the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for the slew of excellent releases that have emerged out of the city in the last few months, from the likes of Hammers, Esoteric Youth and Knife Crimes, (amongst others) and Swinelord’s ridiculously heavy debut on the promising DIY label Church of Fuck is no exception. Indeed, one glance at the twisted man-on-goat orgy taking place on the tape’s cover should let you know that you’re going to be in for one perversely brutal ride…

The tape kicks off with the molasses thick sludge of ‘Welcome To You’re Doom’ (grammar Nazis, rest assured the mistake there is intentional - it’s a sly reference to the awesome Frisky Dingo), which relapses into an unexpected blast onslaught, before a somehow even heavier d-beat section and crushing breakdown rear their ugly heads. In a mere 2 and a half minutes, Swinelord lay all their cards on the table, and succeed not only in pounding your grey matter into a fine, squelchy paste, but also in letting you know that this isn’t just going to be your standard Eyehategod worship. But fear not, the band haven’t blown their load this early, and the rest of the tape is just as skull rattlingly heavy. ‘The Sandmans Coming’s nihilistic lyrics and strangely catchy refrain of “ I…. Feel…. Fucked!” are sure to have dingy basements crammed full of crusties screaming along in unison. Side B tears into even punkier territory, with 'Phimosis Death' bristling with a livid anxiety, and ‘Morning Beer’ racing along with a rampant intensity that recalls punk deities Doom at their finest.

The band’s sound is hard to pin down, genre-wise. Whilst it shares many similarities with sludge metal, the overall sound is generally more up-tempo; it sounds like crust punk desperately trying to claw its way out of a thick dollop of jet black tar. These guys have no shortage of riffs either, with a generous helping of colossal Iron Monkey style sluggers in amongst the faster, punkier outbursts. The vocals are mostly deep and guttural (with the occasional high pitched shriek being deployed to fantastic effect, particularly in closer ‘Lad’), bringing to mind the terrifyingly harsh bellows of sorely missed sludge behemoths Goatsblood. In fact, in many ways it's almost tempting to view these guys as spiritual successors to that band, albeit with much more of a punk influence weaved into their misanthropic dirges.

To be honest, this tape is practically bursting at the seams with pure, vitriolic sludge hatred. The only complaint I can muster up is that by the time these 10 minutes of filthy depravity have run their course, I always find myself wanting much, much more, and I’m left with no choice but to hit play yet again... Thankfully, this EP is also available for free digitally, which is just as well as I have a horrible feeling I'm going to wear the tape out at this rate! If the thought of Doom covering Eyehategod makes you go weak at the knees then this is going to blow your mind. Good show, lads, good show…

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