CVLT Nation’s Top 6 Sludge Releases of 2014
SIX: THOU – Heathen
Thou, in a relatively short space of time, have become a sort of doom metal royalty. Perhaps it’s because they have been unnaturally prolific throughout the years, churning out a couple of full-lengths but bridging the gaps with several EPs and splits each time. Not only that but they’ve maintained a level of consistency and quality that was more than on par with their turnaround, a next-to-impossible tasks for many bands and this truly hit a zenith in 2010 with Summit.
In a strange turn of events, the sludge doom outfit went through 2013 without releasing a single record, the last contributions to their sprawling discography being split records with Hell and Kowloon Walled City in 2012. It was common knowledge that the band was working on a new full-length entitled Heathen and the time spent crafting it has suggested that Thou had something special in gestation. Such surmising has proven true.
At over an hour and ten minutes, Heathen subscribes to the band’s usual modus operandi of sprawling and adventurous, albeit decidedly grim, sludge doom. None of Thou’s vitriol and vitality has been lost, still straddling a line between coarse doom and eerie melody. It’s a balance that they mastered many years ago but with Heathen they’ve shown to only excel further with it.
Read Full Review Here Written by Jonathan
Label: Gilead Media
FIVE: COFFINWORM – IV.I.VIII
When All Became None firmly implanted Coffinworm’s blackened sludgy doom into the minds of those brave enough to listen, and with their debut the Indianapolis-based band dredged from the depths a mass of disgust so heavy that it’s taken four years for them to create a follow up. IV.I.VIII is a record of hate, ugliness and filth. Coffinworm have taken all that was deadly about When All Became None and twisted it into ever more suffering tones, and as such, IV.I.VIII writhes with a tangible sickness, one that seeps into your pores and leaves you feeling dirty, rotten and incomplete.
IV.I.VIII is aggressive, and opener “Sympathectomy” barges out of the abyss with throaty screams, guttural yells and frenetic guitar work, before the track slides into slightly slower territory and lies low with malevolence. The churning guitar (C. & G.) and bass (T.) lines meld with steady, heavy strikes of drum (J.) to create an atmosphere of deep unease, giving Coffinworm a distinctly feral tone and lifting them into realms of complete and utter misery. The track forays into doomier patterns at times, contrasting with the speedier portions, which allow the song to breathe with a deadly sickness and a current of malicious intent before it ends on background blasts and cloying feedback.
Read Full Review Here Written by Cheryl
FOUR: SECRET CUTTER – S/T
Hailing from Bethlehem, PA, Secret Cutter christened early 2014 with their sleeper hit of a self-titled debut LP. Their sole release following their 2009 EP, If You Don’t Hate Yourself You Aren’t Paying Attention, Secret Cutter drenches their songs in vicious, blood-churning sludge grind. The self-produced album was released all the way back in February, with surprisingly not much ado made about it. Their Bandcamp highlights several reviews from various publications – CVLT Nation, Pitchfork and Metal Insider among them – the latter raising the question of why notable metal labels such as Relapse Records and Southern Lord weren’t fight over Secret Cutter. It is understandable why such a question would be raised. Their sound is familiar, while being all their own simultaneously. The album’s pacing is nothing short of perfect, with none of the ten songs overstaying its welcome, making for a release that is neither overly long or underwhelming. At times the production leaves something to be desired, especially in earlier tracks like “Mirror Mirror” and “Deformed Eye,” with the drums and vocals being drowned in the guitar’s explosive furor.
Read Full Review Here Written by Bruce
THREE: LORD MANTIS – Death Mask
My anticipation of “Death Mask” might have been a bit more extreme than your average listener. My most played album of 2012 and 2013, by a long shot, was Lord Mantis “Pervertor.” I still listen to it almost every day. Expectations were very high.
Being incredibly anxious for any understanding of what was to be heard on “Death Mask,” I studied reviews and scourged the edges of the internet to find clues. To my dismay, I just became bitter and frustrated as I read these metal blogs’ late acknowledgment of band members’ past and current projects, including Indian, Avichi, Nachtmystium and Abigail Williams. “How did you not know that? You’re a metal blog. You have one job!,” I shouted to the confused face of my pug. Not to mention discussing the album as being exhausting, or a rough listen. Do you even like Lord Mantis bruh? Apparently not. I could expand on my discontent until the pages rival the thickness of your most hated ex-lover, but I digress.
After the release of their first new single “Body Choke,” I think I slowly transformed into a sweaty hot dog. Once the entire album reached my inbox, I was having hot flashes that would impress your grandma. “I’ve been waiting so long for this,” I reminded myself as I pressed play.
Read Full Review Here Written by Jason Cantu
TWO: EYEHATEGOD – S/T
Does time ever stop? Or even rewind itself? Maybe. And if anything, time is just a feeling. An illusion. But not when it comes to EYEHATEGOD, apparently. The reason we say this is because when you slap their new self-titled album on the record player, the first collection of new EHG material in well over a decade, you suddenly feel like you’re back in 2001 just before the band ceased almost all live and studio activity. You feel like a freshly released Confederacy Of Ruined Lives is still ringing in your bleeding ears and that the band delivered a follow up a mere months later, without showing any kind of aging whatsoever – and if anything, just making a better album than that one, as a far more focused, cohesive and destructive followup. You can hear a band at the top of their game in this new album and riding every instance of their fame and glory with ease and extreme confidence. You feel like you just got yanked back into a time when North American heavy music all of a sudden took a wrong turn, turned sorrowful and unrecognizable to the most, and when bands like Today is the Day, Brutal Truth, Neurosis, Anal Cunt, Grief and Voivod started ruling the planet of the extreme, becoming the absolute leaders in the business of sonic innovation, along with of course, EYEHATEGOD. However, as you all know, reality had other plans for EYEHATEGOD after Ruined Lives came out.
Read Full Review Here Written by Mattia
Label: Housecore Records
ONE: INDIAN – From All Purity
“From All Purity” marks the return of Chicago’s sludge monsters, Indian and this time they’re angrier than ever. Just like their predecessor “Guiltless”, “From All Purity” introduces us to a little more than a handful of tracks, in this case 6, but that are more than enough for the band to violate our ears with its corrosive sludge throughout the 40 minutes that the album lasts.
Once again, Sanford Parker’s production proved to be a valuable tool in the making of this Indian album. “From All Purity” seems to catch the loose ends left by “Guiltless,” but here the band seems to amplify all the hatred they have inside them and have release it to cause the maximum damage possible. The sound on this album is way more abrasive than its predecessor – let’s say it’s more “raw” than the one heard in “Guiltless”. The guitars seem louder and more abrasive, the drum sounds louder as it hits like a sledgehammer, the vocals are simply vicious and harsh enough to create cracks on the floor, and to all of this they add some noise, drone-ish elements on the background that will not only punish your ears but they will only enhance the pain you will feel along this cruel and abhorrent trip that is “From All Purity”.
Read Full Review Here Written by Haxan
Label: Relapse Records