Cassette Assault – Hit It Hard With Sludge

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In the past, when we've tossed tapes purposefully at your face; sometimes it's been a hit, sometimes a miss, depending on the tape.  This time we didn't want that, we wanted it all. no misses.  As the tapes come in, as well as anything else, we're picky now, preferring to review what we see in a positive light, since it leads to less flame wars.  So for this one, we figured, let's avoid the average peasant, let's go for tyrant level dominance.  Out of luck, in that stack of plastic we waded through, we found four rectangular death-dealers all with a general direction that can be categorized as 'the sludge'.  The thickness, the filthiness, the depravity, that's what we needed, and that's what you need.  So get your guns, get your armor piercing bullets, stack it up, chuck grenades, and in the wake of their explosions lay out your enemies with either of these four beauties playing on your Walkman.

Eye of Nix - S/T Demo

183451384790649788o38qSuDocWe were a bit concerned these guys might be some sort of New Age warbling crystal worship nonsense, but anyone wise enough to name their band after the Greek goddess of night probably has other things in mind.  Plus that cover makes the perfect usage of B/W space, and only the artistic eye can pick up on it, so there must be artistic minds within.  Answer: yes.  This tape coming courtesy of Belief Mover Records, Eye of Nix play an interesting combination of doom and noise with heavy sludge elements, experimentation, and an atmosphere of the 'fin de siècle'.  Such a poetic and antiquarian approach could only work if everyone was in, and to reach such prestige required a strong frontwoman.  Joy Von Spain is the Circe to their Odysseus, with an ability to jump from various approaches with dominance.  At one moment she's belting out articulate, operatic calls, the next she's wailing like a skeleton on fire.  This demo's a bit slow to start, but once the psych's all out of their system, disgusting bass and pounding drums building to crush levels, and Joy calling from a temple, it's a real kicker.  At times it might feel too esoteric to some ears, but give it a chance and by the end you'll find yourself devout.  What does it is Joy, she's not content with regaling you poetically; she shrieks, she roars, she's what keeps it all together.  Eye of Nix Official Facebook  Score: 4.2 / 5

buioingola - dopo l'apnea

buioingolaAfter the ritual worship you experienced above, let's now join in lament that we must return to the world of human beings, as these Italian sludge masters lower us into the grave before we've even died.  Vividly translating as "after apnea", this deep blue plastic sin box from Sentient Ruin Laboratories will have you gasping for air very quickly, probably from your own hands on your own neck.  buioingola work with quite a bit of fuzz, an atmospheric type that covers everything they touch like a fine dust layered over years in an abandoned home in which still lives a fatal bride, abandoned decades ago by her lover.  Emaciated, unclean, this is the stuff of the darkest magic, but yet impassioned.  However, as touching as the music is, they make sure it's a compelling, mighty type of emotion with deep yelling almost like the groom of said bride in our image bemoaning his loss, not realizing the one he loves is still alive, and then they both die alone without ever knowing.  Tragic love is always best, and this poetry through post-black metal ambience is tough to achieve, but these guys likely  have the background knowledge of several depressing genres to be able to create such a chunk of suffering as this.  By the end of it you find yourself screaming and tearing at your own flesh.  Absolutely beautiful in its depiction of torment, dopo l'apnea will leave you oozing past regret.  buioingola Official Facebook  Score: 5 / 5

Dweller in the Valley - Younger Dryas

dryasNow let's blacken that sludge, perk up our spirits a bit, and pretty much freeze that to the point of complete inactivity with this one from Grimoire Records.  Referring to a period of time in history, long ago, when the Earth went through a sudden period of absolute coldness, Dweller in the Valley puts this into music.  Feel that chill gliding over your skin, feel the frost fragmenting through your blood in beautiful, fractal patterns as echoing bells lead into some grinding, sludgy metal that paints a vivid picture of a rotting cabin somewhere in the forest (that's the best we have today).  Once it's past the atmospheric opening moments, these guys tear ahead with a rather messy approach, their fingers too numb to properly feel the frets, their vocal chords bleeding and cracking open from the cold pulling into their lungs.  But that messiness is what makes it work, just listen, for example, to that dirty melody on track two, the aptly titled "Mire", and it's clear.  The only negative aspect of this approach is the further it goes, the more lost the listener can become since it somewhat collapsing together.  But because of some stellar writing you'll still find the willow-o-the-wisp in the bog, it would have just been preferable if it were something more like a bonfire, considering.    It's a minor point, however, because the savage, Neolithic, if you will, quality of Younger Dryas makes up for this slight lack of consistency.  Plus it has an animal skull on the cover.  Dweller in the Valley Official Facebook  Score: 4.5 / 5

Same Sex Dictator - Open the Coffin

samesexNow here's a band we haven't seen in awhile.  We first came across these guys when a previous writer, Alyssa, checked out their album FROM BENEATH YOU IT DEVOURS (CAPS attack).  That old review's still in the vault, and since it's wasn't entirely positive, we probably won't bring it out again.  And why bother, because these guys have come a long way since 2010.  Open the Coffin is their latest effort, released in 2014 on cassette by Hanged Man Recordings, and soon again in April of this year on vinyl by Belief Mover Records.  Having not heard their earlier work (editor), a quick run through it revealed a ton of progress has been made in the past five years.  And you know what's great?  Most of this is built on only drums and bass.  Unlike some other bands of this type, Same Sex Dictator prove it's possible with a little ingenuity, an astute knowledge of effects, and some extra tricks.  Sludge it out, add a touch of powerviolence, and yes, we would like to be set on fire as the cover art shows (photography by Christopher McKenney, who you hopefully already know).  Open the Coffin covers a lot of ground, too, with nine tracks and close to 50-or-so minutes of sludge-driven, ear-bludgeoning force.  Sometimes they might get too angry for their own good, but we can deal with angry.  Same Sex Dictator Official Facebook   Score: 4.4 / 5

 

Written by Stanley Stepanic