Sunday, 27 May 2018


By: Nikos Mixas
Art by: Joshua M. Wilkinson 

It’s the May edition of THE SLUIDGELORD’S 666 PACK REVIEW!  While some of you may be graduating school or looking for a summer job, the album/demo submissions keep pouring into THE SLUDGELORD’S inbox for review.  If you’re new to this, each and every month we handpick 6 review submissions and critique them by only using 6 words, then we rate them on a scale from 1 to 666!  Check out our very spring-like rating scale below: 

1 – We’re guessing when you let your mother listen to your band on Mother’s Day, she cried...       
2 – Even with Shinedown, Sevendust and Five Finger Death Punch releasing new material this month,          that still won’t help your cause.    
3 – May is the most average month of the year, it’s not too shabby, nor exactly great.  Congrats on being   a May!       
4 – Just like the new Candlemass, we’re intrigued.  Keep working at it.    
5 – Time to start planning those mini-tour dates!  You need to get yourselves out there! 
666THE SLUDGELORD crowns you with flower helmet encrusted in emeralds representing fertility and success because that’s the best we can do for May!  Hails! 

Caveat:  Even though the 666 PACK REVIEW is meant to offer humorous critique, there are no safe spaces here and your gripes will only make you sound like a bellyacher.  THE SLUDGELORD is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

1). vAv,  “vAv” (Tel Aviv, Israel)    Rating: 3

Textbook doom that plays it safe.

2). Arakk, Under Søvnen” (Copenhagen, Denmark)   Rating: 3

Two songs, too similar, too bad.

3). End of Hope, “D E M O” (New York City, U.S.A.)   Rating: 2

I’m “hoping” this isn’t the “end.”  

4). Denim Casket, “Demo” (Boise, U.S.A.)   Rating: 5

Old school grind meets G.G. Allin

5). Titanosaur, “Eat Me” (Hudson, U.S.A.)   Rating: 1

One man band with computer skillz.

6). Montagne, “Spring Birds” (Paris, France)   Rating: 4

Post Hardcore is still a thing?

Bonus: Yanari, “Marine Leg Demo” (Buffalo, U.S.A.) Rating: 4

Solid doomage.  Vocals are missing reverb.

Band info: vAv || Arakk

Friday, 25 May 2018

INTERVIEW: Denver down-tuned blackened sludgers Oryx are all about that bass

By: Mark Ambrose & Aaron Pickford
Alvino Salcedo (C)
The two-piece metal group is a risky venture: for every stellar example that incorporates multiple registers, tones, and intimate dynamics (Bell Witch, NEST, Obsidian Tongue) there are a dozen that do not sound like anything except an inept demo tape (which I politely won’t call out here).  Thankfully Oryx, the Colorado by way of Santa Fe two-piece, fall solidly into the former group: a balanced collaboration that sounds like a symphony of savagery.  While “Stolen Absolution” is a sophomore release, this marked their first album as a two-piece – a sort of second debut, more distinct, assured, and unique than their prior effort, Widowmaker”. 

Skip forward nearly 4 months since the release of this record and the band are set to play some of the biggest shows of their short tenure, what’s more the band are set reinvent themselves again.  This week I hooked up with drummer Abigail Davis to get the low down on their forthcoming shows and she tell us about their decision to change up the line up once more, to present Oryx 3.0

So Abbey, welcome to THE SLUDGELORD! Could you tell our readers a little about how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Oryx?

Tommy (guitar, vocals) has been playing in metal and punk bands for most of his life. I picked up the drums in high school and then really dove headfirst into it once Tommy and I started jamming five years ago. We helped run a DIY show space in Las Cruces, NM called The Trainyard. We lived right down the street from it, so we would show up at around midnight and play as loud as we wanted without bothering anyone. We just kept playing together until we felt ready for shows.   Oryx was born.

For those people unfamiliar with Oryx, is there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point bands to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Bands like Earth, Man is the Bastard, Eyehategod, Drunkdriver, Corrupted, and Noothgrush are all huge influences on us. Currently active bands like Primitive Man, Yob, Bell Witch, Thou, and The Body continue to inspire us and pave the way for heavy music in general.

What can you tell us about your latest record “Stolen Absolution” and where do you feel it sits within the context of current doom scene

With ‘Stolen Absolution’, we set out to create an album that could represent our live sound more accurately and articulate our voice better than any of our other previous recordings. We feel the album stands strongly on its own in the current doom scene, but it’s also a mash up of several genres and with darker undertones that black metal or blackened doom fans could appreciate.

Alvino Salcedo (C)
Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of “Stolen Absolution” and for those paying attention to the article, they may notice a change.  So with that in mind, how is the mood in the camp at present?

After “Stolen Absolution” released in February, Tommy and I re-evaluated what we wanted for the band. We decided that we wanted to see this band evolve and grow beyond what we’ve been able to achieve as a two piece. We figured that one way to try this would be to incorporate a bassist into the mix. Over the past several months we have been writing new music with our newest member, David Saylor. We met David years ago when we played with his band Terminator 2. David brings a unique style to the band and we are happy to have him on board. Having a new voice to collaborate on song writing feels like a fresh start for the band. It’s also allowing Tommy to expand on his guitar parts in ways we’ve never been able to do before. It’s an exciting time for Oryx!

With you new record released and a new member on board, how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

Well we are excited to announce that we are heading back to the studio in June to record several tracks for an upcoming split. This time we are recording with Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios in Oakland. This is a bucket list recording studio for us. We have two big shows in June as well. We are opening for Ufomammut on June 9th at Sister Bar in Albuquerque, NM and then we open for the legendary Sleep at the Ogden Theatre here in Denver on June 11th. For these two shows, we will have a friend guest subbing on bass while David travels back to Texas for some shows with Terminator 2. Get ready to see Oryx debut as a three piece for these shows! We also have plans to tour in August. Those dates and cities will be released soon.

Finally, do you have any last words?

Thanks for the interview and the support, SLUDGELORD! Cheers!

“Stolen Absolution” is available here (CD) and here (Tape)

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

REVIEW: Speedclaw, "Beast In The Mist"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 01/06/2018
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records

The sound over the six tracks comes on like a revved up version of early Saxon and Dio crossed with “Fistful of Metal” era Anthrax and “Bonded By Blood” era Exodus. The production is 80's to the max, the performances strong and the band sound hungry and dangerous

“Beast In The Mist” CS//CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Prelude
2). Beast in the Mist
3). Faster Than Hell
4). Rising of the Claw
5). Aggression Strikes
6). Evil That You See

The Review:

Croatian Speed Metal! Speedclaw are probably Croatia's finest exponent of the genre... and maybe one of the best in the world. The sound over the six tracks comes on like a revved up version of early Saxon and Dio crossed with “Fistful of Metal” era Anthrax and “Bonded By Blood” era Exodus. The production is 80's to the max, the performances strong and the band sound hungry and dangerous. The instrumental “Prelude” opens proceedings before the title track rips out of the speakers with a vengeance. “Faster Than Hell” lives up to the title's promise. Widdly lead work abounds as riffs come thick and fast.

The latter three tracks deliver more of the same- pleasingly- and the band don't let up. Ranger have got some serious competition here as this is pure metal of the highest quality; nostalgic, referencing what went before and the band makes sure to put their own stamp on things. If anything, “Rising of the Claw” and “Aggression Strikes” go closer towards out and out extreme thrash metal, but that is no bad thing. Better to press the pedal to the metal than ease off down the back stretch!

The impressive EP/mini album closes with “Evil That You See”, which sees the NWOBHM influences come back to the fore. The name of the band tells you almost all you need to know here. Surely a candidate for a Fenriz endorsement (if he hasn't done so already) and high time the band gets offered a slot at Live Evil in London. Raging stuff.

“Beast In The Mist” is available here

Band info: facebook

Thursday, 24 May 2018

ELEVEN IS ONE LOUDER: Rob Hoey (Limb) picks 5 artists & bands he loves that had a great impact on heavy music... Without using mountains of distortion (and in lots of cases, none)

By: Rob Hoey

As we (Limb) get ready to release our third album “Saboteurs of the Sun...” (available here) ...I thought I'd chat about some of our influences who didn't need modern distortion to get heavy. 

A lot of people who read this will already be very aware of these artists and in writing it I thought 'if I were to read this would I find this kind of thing patronising'? Then I realised that if I hadn't heard of some of these people I wouldn't be able to appreciate the music we have today, so here's to them... The scoundrels, cads, olden day punks who said 'fuck you, I won't do what you tell me' and started something that we can still see / feel today in the roots of all that is sonically heavy. 

So even if you've heard all these before, click the links and refresh your memory while we look back and take our hats off to the men and women who carved out the path we now tread! 

Screamin' Jay Hawkins (1929 - 2000)

If you like Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Ghost, Kiss or any other shock rockers then you have this man to thank! Before heading to tinkle the ivories, he would emerge from a coffin onstage and wore gold and leopard skin costumes and had voodoo stage props, such as his smoking skull on a stick (called Henry). Alongside all his stage antics he had scream (hence the nickname) that would give Noddy Holder a run for his money. 

Check Out – “I Put A Spell On You”

2 Jerry Lee Lewis (1935 - Present) 

The 'killer' as he is known (and nearly for very good reason, he tried to kill Elvis, look it up) is a controversial figure and no mistake. He is a wild and unbridled force of nature and pushed rock and roll to its limits at a time that America just wasn't ready for it. He once shot a gun to wake up tired party goers who couldn't keep up with him. Any live performance of his will give you a good indication of how energised he was. Also, he played piano like he'd made a deal with Lucifer himself. (you can still catch him live if you're in the states) 

Check Out – “Wild One” 

3 Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883)

Way before the metal zone pedal (or the DOD grunge for that matter) there were people who were determined to get tone henge blasting so had to be inventive. How I hear you cry? Load the bottom end of your orchestra with things like the 'octobass' a giant version of the double bass played with a bow that would make even SunnO))) smile (ok maybe not, too doom!). Richard Wagner was the king of heavy back in the day, those days being the middle of the 1800's. He was rattling the rafters way before Boris came along and showed us how to get a bass tone that would rattle your teeth straight down your neck! 

Check out – “Entrance Of The Gods Into Valhalla”

4 Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915 - 1973)

So... A white Gibson LesPaul SG with three humbuckers sounds like something Zep or The Darkness might bust out on stage but long before all that came a gospel rock whirlwind in the shape of
Sister Rosetta Tharpe and man could she play. She cemented her place in rock and roll history when she embarked upon a European tour with Muddy Waters in 1963 (her UK debut was in Manchester) she noted as an influence by prominent British guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards

Check Out – “Up Above My Head”

5 Lead Belly (1888 - 1949)

Here we have Lead Belly a ne'er do well, moonshine swilling multi instrumentalist who saw his fair share of hardship which lead him to sing about women, liquor, prison life, and racism. He was also known to write songs about people in the news, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler and Howard Hughes. You might know him best from Nirvana's cover of “My Girl (where did you sleep last night)”. They don't come much rougher round the edges than Lead Belly and if you scratch the surface of his prolific song library you'll find it paints a picture of man who lived hard and played harder. 

Check Out – “Black Girl (in the pines)”

Band info: facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Nibiru, "Netrayoni" (2018)

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full Length (Reissue)
Date Released: 25/05/2018
Label: Argonauta Records

Vocal treatments, humming effects and elements you rarely hear in sludge decorate the exteriors everywhere. The heart of these songs is firmly in the doom/sludge camp, but this iteration of Nibiru was fearless in an atypical fashion when it came to experimentation

“Netrayoni” 2CD//DD track listing:

1). Kshanika mukta
2). Apsara
3). Sekhet aahru
4). Qaa-om sapah
5). Arkashani
6). Kwaw-loon
7). Sekhmet
8). Celeste samsara is broken
9). Viparita karani
10). Sothis
11). Carma geta

The Review:

Italian sludge trio Nibiru released last year's "Qaal Babylon" to some acclaim. The dense atmosphere and ambitious orchestration made it one of the strongest recordings in its discography. With interest up, its label has seen fit to remaster and reissue the band's second album, "Netrayoni." The results are as good as you might anticipate.

The reissue catches the sludge gods at some of their wilder best. "Netrayoni" got favorable reviews when it came out four years ago. It is a record that has held up quite well.

Nibiru's superpower has always been doing uncommon music. Its thick arrangements always have a flourish of something different. That is great for metal connoisseurs who will not be satisfied with just glacial chords, and want a new take on the music. The band is also apt to challenge its fans, as it does in the forbidding 11-minute opener "Kshanika mukta." A noise infused track, it's a step back a few years to what a slowed down version of The Body may have grilled in its backyard. There are syncopated guitars with distortion and quirky vocals. However, songs like "Apsara" and "Sekhet aahru" offer the traditional sludge as only Nibiru can do.

This album was released in 2014, when drummer Siatris was still with the band. Those who came to the group with "Qaal Babylon" may notice delicate divergences. L.C. Chertan was behind the kit for the last record, and the playing there was measured and quite deliberate at turns. "Netrayoni" sees a more ragged style take hold, which works for the record, particular on winding, freakier, more progressive cuts such as "Celeste samsara is broken." On the other hand, it is surely a ponderous matter to hear what the 16-minute "Kwaw-loon" might have become if Chertan had been on the original recording. Nibiru's delivery is nevertheless stunning.

If you are a newer fan, be aware this album is a departure. Vocal treatments, humming effects and elements you rarely hear in sludge decorate the exteriors everywhere. The heart of these songs is firmly in the doom/sludge camp, but this iteration of Nibiru was fearless in an atypical fashion when it came to experimentation. By all means, the current formation remains excellent. However, with "Netrayoni," you are sure to discover layers to the trio you may have missed on its last album. In all, this diversity is only going to make you love what they do all the more.

“Netrayoni” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: At The Gates, ‘To Drink From The Night Itself’

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/05/2018
Label: Century Media Records

 The omnipresent malevolence that coats the majority of the album gives it a different feel from the rest of the band’s catalog. At The Gates do their best to get the best of both worlds: acting as an agent of fan service and staying in their own lane, while also using broad strokes to give the old sound a new context. 

‘To Drink From the Night Itself’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Der Widerstand
2. To Drink from the Night Itself
3. A Stare Bound in Stone
4. Palace of Lepers
5. Daggers of Black Haze
6. The Chasm
7. In Nameless Sleep
8. The Colours of the Beast
9. A Labyrinth of Tombs
10. Seas of Starvation
11. In Death They Shall Burn
12. The Mirror Black

The Review:

At The Gates, being in the At The Gates nostalgia business, have returned to be really good at being a version of At The Gates that you’d like to hear, as a fan of At The Gates. I know how that read just now, and I don’t care: it’s fucking accurate. They’re a band intent on crafting the best nostalgia album they can, and they’ve done a exceptional job of meeting those goals here. They’ve taken the moody atmosphere of ‘With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness’, gussied it up with a modern studio production, a touch of added darkness, and plugged it into the “Slaughter of The Soul 5000”, their patented nostalgia refinement machine.

The end result is ‘To Drink From The Night Itself’: the album morose death metal folks of a certain age are sure to enjoy enough to spend money on. And bless them for it too! The last thing we need is Jonas Björler getting some wild “got to keep up with the times” hair up his ass, like his other band The Haunted did, and you might remember how long it took them to right that ship once they set sail upon that sea.

The formula for this album is pretty straightforward: you’ve got your slower, melodic parts that range from mournful twin harmonies to murky atmospheric darkness. And then you’ve got your uptempo Slayer beat stuff, which I affectionately referred to as the “Slaughter of the Soul 5000” machine earlier. That’s the stuff meant to get your “Blinded By Fear” glands salivating, like Pavlov’s dog whenever Pavlov entered the room. It’s all very comfortable, like a warm sweater and a cup of hot cocoa at the start of winter.

Here’s the fucked up thing: At The Gates nostalgia baiting us for forty-five minutes still makes for one of the finer death metal albums of the year, and they sound like they’re barely trying. The band are an inexorable monolith of “remember the good old days” emotions here, and all we can do is continue to be fascinated and entranced by it. We’re powerless to resist the charm of familiarity, and really why would we want to? There’s no harm in it.

While that “warm sweater of fond melodeath remembrance” I mentioned earlier is certainly a huge part of why ‘To Drink From The Night Itself’ works so well, it would be unfair to say that the album doesn’t have its own character. They’re especially fond of using those deep, resonant chords for building atmosphere on this album, which gives the album a more menacing feeling altogether. In fact, you could call this At The Gates’ darkest album to date, and have a solid case for that belief. ‘With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness’ was more gloomy than outright ominous, and this album is firmly planted on that second word’s side of things.

For all of my needling the album for playing it safe, ‘To Drink From The Night Itself’ is a big improvement over ‘At War With Reality’. The parts of the album meant to give you a cozy trip down memory lane do so remarkably. The omnipresent malevolence that coats the majority of the album gives it a different feel from the rest of the band’s catalog. At The Gates do their best to get the best of both worlds: acting as an agent of fan service and staying in their own lane, while also using broad strokes to give the old sound a new context. This album is the musical equivalent of reuniting with old friends at your favorite old hangout spot and having a great time, even if the place doesn’t look quite like it did before. An occasion like that is virtually guaranteed to be a joy for you because it was the safest choice to bring you that joy in the first place. Does that really diminish the experience any for you? It didn’t for me.

‘To Drink From the Night Itself’ is available digitally here and on CD/LP here.

Band info: Facebook

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Wychhound, "Earth Orbiter"

By: David Jupp

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 01/05/2018
Label: Independent

The many audio-faces that tell the story of ‘Earth Orbiter’ are proof, that if instrumental music is judged right, executed well, and arranged with craft, riffs beat words. Every damn time.

“Earth Orbiter” DD track listing:

1). Flux
2). Supercluster
3). Comet Shoemaker – Levy 9 (SL-9)
4). Aurora
5). Matter – Antimatter Annihilation

The Review:

When a band parts company with their singer, the ensuing discussion generally goes something like this. ‘Fuck! It won’t be the same man, someone else singing those songs. They might as well pack it in.’ Well in 2017 and only two years on from their debut EP, Wychhound did just this by saying farewell to singer Jimmy Holifield. Rather than start the depressing trudge through London’s abundance of awful singers, the band decided to strike out on a new path as an instrumental four-piece. Shedding the crutches a vocalist provides in both immediacy and structure is a brave decision, and especially risky when you already have an established following who expect ‘songs.’ So, as Wychhound set forth on a new journey the question is, can they fill the yawning void left by words?

Earth Orbiter’ sets flight to a wall of feedback. As the pressure builds and ‘Flux’ ignites, Wychhound let fly with a barrage of strings, cymbals and skins. It soon becomes clear how the wordless quartet intend on bringing their old fans with them, and to be honest it’s the oldest trick in the book. Big riffs. Lots of them. Really fast. Before you even reach the minute mark Wychhound have twisted their audio-rubix-cube three times. Twist one, swaggering math-groove. Twist two, euphoric chord progression. Twist again, Tool inflected grunge-swerve. As minute two lands guitarist Miles Mcdonald swaggers in with a howling solo and boots the whole metaphor out the window. Singers? Pfft.

The success of instrumental heavy music revolves around a bands ability to judge phrasing. Without lyrics to convey a message you are left with the subtle art of assembling meaning from a jigsaw of riffs. It’s like the best kind of sign language, hold a riff out for too long and the listener grows bored, take it away too quickly and the message is lost. Track two ‘Supercluster’ serves as an advanced elocution lesson in riff-annunciation. Guitarist Roberto Pini kicks things off with a superb off-kilter riff before Mcdonald laces another emotive lead into the fray. Just as the narrative begins to wane bass player Neil Neighbour and drummer Sid Nagdhi grab the track by the low-end and spread a stuttering bang all over it.

Having seen Wychhound cultivate the seeds of these songs across a variety of London’s venues in the last year I must admit that when I first saw the artwork for the record I didn’t really get it. Don’t get me wrong the art looks great but I didn’t quite see what a planet of faces had to do with the songs I had heard.

Named after a comet that broke apart in 1992 and collided with Jupiter, ‘Comet Shoemaker – Levy 9 (SL-9)’s seven-minutes of aching slow-dawn soon provide me with the artworks meaning. Wychhound are a band with many faces. Just as the opening act of the record’s focus sharpens into a prog-metal guise the second movement softens into soaring arpeggiated post-rock.

Great records are made in small increments. The stunning arpeggio that permeates ‘Comet...’s skyline progression is beautiful enough, but exceptional bands always reach for that extra percent. So, as Mcdonald’s triads arc into the records second half, Roberto Pini’s haunting e-bow adds that last extra lift and I challenge anyone not to crane their neck and sigh.

Next up is ‘Aurora.’ Until now Wychhound’s sophomore effort has worn its influences on its sleeve and that doesn’t stop here. Tool, Russian Circles, early Barrows and “Zidane”-era Mogwai have all stirred in places, but now Elder’s totemic influence on the contemporary heavy landscape looms into view. Luckily Wychhound have no intention of merely paying homage and as the Boston trio’s Spires Burn/Release’ EP flickers in the distance the band re-apply their riff-sculpture and successfully carve another fresh face into the records strata.

Matter – Antimatter Annihilation’ brings the album to a close and makes a welcome return to the cinematic melodies of ‘Comet Shoemaker.’ As the spiralling guitar-runs that litter ‘Earth Orbiter’ arch back and dive into another surging chord sequence all fears of a loss of narrative are expelled and the record re-enters the atmosphere on a surge of hefty tone. 

In the last year Wychhound have become a staple of London’s burgeoning heavy-scene. So, by making the decision to record ‘Earth Orbiter’ live, I’m glad to say they have successfully captured the ebb, flow, movement and act that make their live show so popular. What’s more impressive however, is the successful progression from traditional stoner band into a new instrumental landscape. In music, just because a choice is brave doesn’t necessarily mean it is right, so in shedding their singer Wychhound could have easily gotten lost in a sea of riffs that lacked narrative. Luckily the many audio-faces that tell the story of ‘Earth Orbiter’ are proof, that if instrumental music is judged right, executed well, and arranged with craft, riffs beat words. Every damn time.

“Earth Orbiter” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook