Having previously released material mastered by Dennis Pleckham of Bongripper and taken musical cues from Sunn O))), Chicago’s Plague of Carcosa are no strangers to a heavy riff. Their 2018 release ‘Rats In The Walls’ required no more than just one track to make its point, but since that number was often delivered at a crawling speed and dragged out to almost fifteen minutes, the effect was like experiencing a full four song EP from most doom/sludge bands.
It took New York’s sludge metal heroes False Gods a full two years to release a follow up for their ‘Reports From Oblivion’ EP. In that time, fans probably suspected the band to re-emerge, all guns blazing with a devastatingly heavy full length album…but it wasn’t to be. It may still verge upon being devastatingly heavy in a few places, but their 2019 EP ‘The Serpent & The Ladder’ presents just two new songs.
Whether this is an EP – as advertised – or a single that unleashes two lengthy workouts is something very much up for debate. The band’s commitment to a riff, on the other hand goes without question. A concept piece, of sorts, the two numbers concern both of the titular objects, but a gruff vocal and very intense sound means that the finer points of the narrative are lost behind some weighty riffs. Let’s be fair, though, if you’re drawn to a band like False Gods for anything other than those riffs, you’ve sort of missed the point.
Kurokuma’s second release, 2018’s ‘Dope Rider’ EP presented the perfect mix of heavy riffs and branded artwork in a small but intensive package that was pretty much guaranteed to thrill fans of extreme metal and comic books. A release that really cemented the band’s wondrously sludgy sound, it would be a certainly hard act to follow.
2019’s ‘Sheffield’s Best Metal Bands, Vol. 1’ (a title referring to its being the first in a series from Off Me Nut Records as opposed to any psychosis within Kurokuma itself) brings fans another full compliment of obtrusive and sludgy riffs stretched across three lengthy tracks…and it’s a release that dishes out more extreme heaviness per inch than most listeners will handle.
Five years into a career of pummelling audiences with riffs, Orlando’s Glorious Rebellion present a mini masterpiece with their 2019 EP ‘Scholars of War’. Its three tracks offer a world of glorious and sludgy wonderment that’s as quirky as it is genuinely heavy.
Lead track ‘Turn Around, Bright Eyes’ quickly raises a wry smile with a reference that instantly calls to mind an 80s evergreen hit from Bonnie Tyler and Jim Steinman, though any kind of musical pomposity or video clips of spinning ninjas really couldn’t be further from the band’s collective mind. Within seconds, they launch into something that sounds like the best thing you’ve heard from Helmet since the release of the ‘Betty’ album about a hundred years ago. The repetitive, sledgehammer riff not only feels like something derived from brilliant Helmet songs of yore, but guitarist Billy Myers also absolutely nails that Page Hamilton tone, giving everything a really distinctive sound; one that refuses to hide such a chief influence. Add to this a terrifically gruff vocal and a pounding rhythm section that’s a match for any within arty metal circles and things get off to an absolutely blazing start. The heaviness of the riffs actually takes so much priority, you might not find any instant lyrical hooks but, of course, the heaviness is the hook and by the time a near-perfect Helmet tribute descends into squalls of feedback with Myers repeatedly bellowing “I am the fucking problem” as a repeated refrain, there’s absolutely no doubt you’re in the presence of a band that truly means business.
Tommy Stewart ended 2018 in style by giving the world an enormous piece of doom when his band Bludy Gyres contributed a near-impenetrable seventeen minute slab of riffery to a split release with fellow doomsters Dayglo Mourning. After such epic scale sludge, some musicians would take a moment to step back and admire their work…but not Tommy. He’s chosen to go head first into 2019 in similarly grand scale, as his other band Negative Wall present just four lengthy and doomy pieces of intensity on their debut full length release. Stretching to almost a full half hour, ‘Gammagelu’ is not an EP, but a near album length, fuzzed up, doomed out musical ride that’s almost as aggressive as Bludy Gyres. This time around, Stewart takes his gift for a riff and applies it to a world of whacked-out sci-fi tales…