Ever since the release of their debut LP in 2017, Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf have been committed to taking doom metal in a more experimental direction, but none of their work has ever felt quite as important as their 2021 release, ‘Doomsday Deferred’. The origins of the album date back as far as 2018, at which time the world looked very different, but as the material began to take shape, a global pandemic swept the world, allowing Stewart even more time to get creative during a time of isolation. The resulting album is heavy, but it’s also a cut above the obvious sludgy tones of the debut. In fact, with a minimalist set up of just bass, drums and occasional cello, combined with a willingness to experiment, the final release could be the crowning achievement of Stewart’s career to date.
For fans of extreme metal, Belfast sludge beasts Slomatics are a band who’ll need no introduction. Since their inception back in 2004, they’ve been utterly committed to creating the heaviest sounds and they’ve won a legion of fans with their slow, crushing, doom-laden noise. No strangers to a split release, they’ve shared discs with Conan, El Bastardo and Holly Hunt. They kicked off 2021 by sharing a split with UK hardcore metal act Ungraven, only to return a few months later on this split disc with Aussie doomers Yanomamo.
At the beginning of 2021, members of Pennsylvanian noise-makers Backwoods Payback formed a new side project, Boozewa, whose main aim would be to provide an even sludgier extension to their world of riffs. Their first release, the four track cassette ‘First Contact’, presented the ultimate in lo-fi metal. With three of its four recordings being so demo-like and raw it made the Melvins’ ‘10 Songs’ sound like the expensive and expansive recordings from Todd Rundgren’s ‘A Wizard/A True Star’, the cassette wouldn’t necessarily be to everyone’s tastes. However, for those who like things to sound as spontaneous as possible, it brought riff after riff in a way that made the band’s talents more than clear, even if the recording sometimes sounded as if were coming from a water damaged source played back through an old sock. The combination of Rylan Caspar’s Buzz Osborne-esque hollering, Jessica Baker’s bottom end grooves, and occasional Sabbath-isms (most obvious during an instrumental piece named after the notorious “No Name Maddox”) had already been effective via Backwood’s Payback’s own brand of stoner – a Fu Manchu meets Melvins meets TAD juggernaut – but this was something else. It was also enough for the legendary Thomas Andrew Doyle to get on board and master their follow up recording.
Although ‘World On Fire’ is the debut release from Californian metal band Sea of Snakes, the musicians involved are anything but fresh faced players just starting out. The core of the band have been fixtures on the stoner metal scene for years, but with ex-Saul of Taurus vocalist Tracy Steiger joining forces with Motorsickle guitarist Jim McCloskey and The Shrine’s Jeff Murray on drums, this is a band with the potential for outgrowing its roots. Sea of Snakes’ debut EP has moments that are far more intense than the gathered musos’ previous works allowed.
Blending elements of metal, noise rock, art rock and pure sludge, Baton Rouge’s Shadow People bring a whole new meaning to the word “intense”. Contrasting sludgy riffs, grinding sounds and retching vocals against unexpected bursts of melody within three tracks that seem to blend into each other, their 2020 EP ‘Washing In Soap Opera’ is as a careening ten minute noise-fest. Its music is almost as frustrating and broken as the era in which it was created. …And yet, there’s something about this wanton ugliness that’s potentially brilliant.