With their slow and uncompromisingly heavy sound, Slomatics have become one of the best-loved bands from the UK sludge metal scene. They’ve faced stiff competition from the likes of Morag Tong and Conan, but the Slomatics brand has remained the most interesting. They can do heavy, but unlike some of their peers, they can also serve up great, dark atmospheres that sound lighter musically, but convey just as much doom. In short, if you want intense riffs, the Slomatics will rarely let you down.
Newcomers to the sludge metal scene for 2022, Gnash make a brilliant noise on their debut release ‘Shared Nightmares’. Its four songs are devastatingly heavy, and right from the opening bars of ‘The Darker Half’, there’s a sense of absolute commitment to conveying weight via those riffs, since bassist Ethan Martin wields a tone that sounds like he’s playing back an old Melvins riff at half speed. Even when the guitars make a slightly later arrival, Gnash sound like a band wading through a musical swamp, and the layer of distortion that covers a massive doom riff only serves their purpose greater, and in less than a minute, they seem set to win over a whole raft of doom and sludge devotees even before this release is barely off the ground.
Blacklab’s debut album ‘Under The Strawberry Moons’ was – and remains – a brilliantly intense listen. By taking classic stoner and doom riffs and layering them with distortion, the noise making duo hit upon a sound that fused elements of Acid King and Boris with the ugly sonic textures of Melvins. By then layering that with extra distortion and adding a semi-detached, distinctly Japanese vocal, the album became bigger than the sum of its parts; a sludgy yet strangely alluring listen that really raised the bar for massive, dark – and sometimes ugly – riffs.
Their follow up, 2020’s ‘Abyss’, flaunted a slightly different guitar tone in places, but didn’t skim on the intensity. In toning down the bass in more than a few places, it actually made Blacklab seem even more uncompromising as they continued to wheel out their massive slabs of distortion. Also by cranking the speed in a couple of places (as with ‘Forked Road’, one of the record’s stand out tracks), it showed the band as being capable of tackling some seriously intense garage punk, which provided a superb counterpart to their doom laden core.
As far as most people will be concerned, Pyreship first appeared on the sludge metal scene in 2017 when their ‘Liars Bend Low’ album appeared on Bandcamp. Its five murky sounding tracks immediately signified the band as masters of some of the dirtiest riffs, but for those paying closer attention, the material also suggested a keen interest in wandering, dark atmospherics which – in the hands of talented musicians – might just take their uncompromising noise into more interesting places in the future.
Heavy duo Coma Hole are gearing up to unleash their debut EP, which promises to be a moody, sludgy and gothic affair, heavy on riffs. In the meantime, they’ve just shared a second single, ‘Wind & Bone’, which is a genuine treat for lovers of material with a doom metal heart.