Urskog – Urskog (Review)

UrskogUrskog are a Swedish blackened sludge band and this is their debut demo release.

The music is dark and sinister, with eerie melodies used as part of the band’s blackened approach. These are usually deposited on top of darker, blackened riffs that are ably backed up by the percussive section. Continue reading

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Wolvhammer/Krieg – Split (Review)

Wolvhammer KriegBoth Wolvhammer and Krieg are from the US. Wolvhammer specialise in Blackened Sludge and Krieg play Black Metal.

Wolvhammer offer us a track first called Slaves to the Grime.

This is 6 minutes of Blackened Sludge hate. The band instantly sound confident and quickly lock into a heavy groove.

Vocals are spat out with venom and belligerent riffs lead the way before being replaced with apocalyptic melodies and downbeat pounding. Mid-song the tempo picks up but keeps the same feelings generated so far.

A most enjoyable song and a worthy contribution to the split.

Krieg are up next with Eternal Victim.

This is shorter than the previous track at half the length; only 3 minutes. Krieg are a veritable institution in their own right, and their track is no disappointment. It’s dark and powered by Blackness. The riffs are very good and the entire song seems over far too quickly.

A short release but definitely worth a listen; another definite split to add to your collection.

Lord Mantis – Death Mask (Review)

Lord MantisLord Mantis are from the US and play Blackened Sludge Metal.

This is torturous, nihilistic Sludge with Blackened overtones and a deep, deep desire to do harm. They arm themselves with all kinds of sharp implements to rabidly experiment with in the search for the ultimate frenzied stab wound pattern. This manifests itself as 47 minutes of Blackened Sludge Metal with some noise components thrown in for good measure.

The songs are the aural equivalent of darkness made solid, with lurking dangers and scything evil hidden within and somehow free to move around in the impenetrable solidity of a corporeal inky black night.

Sounding like a more savage-than-normal Sludge band, Lord Mantis take vitriol to new heights and display a callous disregard for standard genre rules. Unlike some Sludge bands they also include blast beats and noise assaults in their armoury of nasty delights, and wield them with wanton brutality.

If you can handle the acerbic nature of the music then this is top of the league stuff. Depraved, vile, sinful and warped; this may be one of the best records of the year so far.

Legions of Crows – Stab Me (Review)

Legions of CrowsUK band Legions of Crows play Sludge Metal with a Blackened outer layer.

This brand of Blackened atmospheric Sludge is greatly enhanced by the presence of keyboards and other effects, which add  a layer of depth to the already thick torrent of misery peddled by Legions of Crows.

They also have an ear for a good riff, the effect of which is never to be underestimated. Second track Fellating the Lamb is a great example of this; it crawls along for the most part sounding really sinister and malevolent, with Black Metal shrieks burning over the top of it. Unexpectedly it then rises above the fog into a mid-song gallop with a guitar solo, before inevitably waning, slowing down and falling back into the murk with dying wails. Great stuff.

That’s one of the most enjoyable things about this album – they have plenty of variety and a grasp of mood and songs to envy.

The combination of Gothic keyboards/Black Metal influences and filthy Sludge may not appeal to everyone. Most bands who combine Black Metal and Doom usually do so from the point of view of the harsher, dirtier side of both genres, making the melding of sounds easier as there is less distance to traverse. Legions of Crows however choose the path less travelled and combine the filthy, dirty side of Sludge with the more Gothic side of Black Metal. The overall result of course is bound to still sound on the grim side, but the keyboards have largely avoided the corruption and the juxtaposition of both is a pleasant surprise and largely works in the album’s favour.

Interestingly Paul Di’Anno also makes an appearance on the album, which in keeping with a lot of Stab Me is an unexpected turn of events, but a good one.

The recording is functional and does the job, and I’ve certainly heard worse, but I would prefer the drum sound to be slightly more hard-hitting next time. This is only a minor quibble though, as the sound serves the album well enough.

A very interesting release with plenty of individuality and character. I’ll certainly be listening to this quite a bit more and watching what they do next.