Phantom Winter – Sundown Pleasures

I really like the direction the band has gone with this album. Their last record was much more on the heavy sludge side, with some atmo sludge elements, and here they go much more on the atmo sludge side, with very heavy sludge elements. I really enjoy the sort of soaring, climactic approach to a dirty, heavy sludge album. Songs like The Darkest Clan embody this more than anything, giving a sort of grander scale to the album, rather than staying close at home with the heavy sludge riffs. The album just feels larger this way, and the experience is much more unique than if they had just played loud and proud.

Hence why the first track is so inexplicably mediocre. Phantom Winter introduces the album by playing this noisy, chaotic sludge track, that tries to masquerade as atmo sludge. The doesn’t work, and makes the fact that the entire rest of the album doesn’t follow this trend all the more confusing, especially considering the consistent quality of the other 5 tracks. I think all Phantom Winter needs to do is give their 110% for a full album, and maybe up the time to around 45 minutes rather then 40, and they’re be approaching the 9/10 category. Really enjoyed this, some of the best atmo sludge this year.


8.25/10

מזמור [Mizmor] – Yodh

This album is like porn in musical form to me. It’s got the perfect combination of aggressive, somber, evil, and reflective content that I crave in every album I listen to but never get. They combine their influences near perfectly (although I can’t really agree that i hear drone metal in this), and the only reason this doesn’t get a higher score is that they didn’t do anything “extra” to really wow me. This is still an absolutely amazing album, if anything because they managed to make an hour long album not feel long in the slightest. Track 3 is a masterpiece. If you like blackened doom at all, this is a MUST listen.


9.25/10

https://mizmor.bandcamp.com/

Beldam – Still the Wretched Linger

This is absolutely the heaviest, rawest, most punishing sludge album I’ve heard this year. This isn’t purely heavy like Sumac, this has a kind of sloppiness (sometimes to a fault), chaotic, and evil kind of heaviness that you just don’t see out of sludge in the modern day. But it maintains enough different textures to keep you interested with tracks like Her Unbearing Abyss. It gives you these somber, yet ominous soft textures that constantly have you guessing as to where the album is going to go next. If Inter Arma didn’t release a near masterpiece, this would be sludge AOTY easily. It’s certainly the best non atmo sluge album this year however, and I hope other bands follow in it’s footsteps of bringin back nasty, aggressive sludge, that also has a bit of a brain to it.


8.75/10

https://beldamofficial.bandcamp.com/

Witch’s Heart – The Harrowing

Harrows Hymn is actually a pretty damn cool industrial black ambient piece, and the desolate beauty is a surprisingly pleasant to listen to psychedelic, quiet, sludgly black metalish track. Unfortunately the rest of the album is boring, mindlessly repetitive industrial sludge noise that tries to make itself out to be experimental and satanic. It’s an interesting take on blackened sludge, but interesting does not equate to good every time.


5.5/10

https://witchsheart.bandcamp.com/album/the-harrowing

Sumac – What One Becomes

They’re back and better than ever. Sumac got heavier and added more nuance to their music, creating this mathy sludge monster with a truly unique guitar tone and atmosphere that separates themselves from any other atmo sludge band around. I have to take points off for how much of a massive disappointment Blackout was. Didn’t go anywhere, felt like a long waste of my time, especially compared to how awesome the rest of the tracks were. Other than that, this was a step up from their last effort, which I also loved. Gonna be interesting to see where this band goes, I have a feeling these guys could change the game.


8.75/10

Raging Speedhorn – Lost Ritual

A LIST OF GENRE COMBINATIONS I’VE NEVER HEARD, AND DON’T WANT TO

  1. Gamelan Slam Death Metal (no, it would suck and you know it)
  2. New Age Groove Metal
  3. Blackened Twee Pop
  4. Post-Disco (another one that sounds interesting, but deep down you know it would be awful)
  5. Post-Vaporwave
  6. Post-Trap
  7. Post-Any genre invented after Twitter became popular
  8. Funeral Melodic Metalcore
  9. Literal Meme Rap (No, I’ve never listened to Childish Gambino and don’t plan to for this very reason)
  10. Crunk Jazz
  11. Conscious Black Metal
  12. Swans albums made into nightcore (I lied, I’ve actually heard this, it’s just as bad as you think it is)
  13. Chopped and Skrewed / Vaporwave made up of segments of Alex Jone’s radio show
  14. Ambient Grindcore
  15. Ironic Neofolk
  16. Chiptune Drone
  17. Symphonic Miami Bass with Devin Townsend-like Prog Metal elements
  18. Caverncore Detroit Techno
  19. Caverncore Detroit House
  20. Caverncore plus the sounds of Detroit’s decades of financial suffering
  21. Meme-Djent (so basically modern djent in general)
  22. Waaam

Lost Ritual is much less of an ambitious combination, being a combo of heavy Stoner Metal and Groove Metal. What you get is disappointingly everything you would expect; monotonous, repetitive, and very mediocre heavy stoner riffs, that go nowhere, and don’t even try to. I’ll give the album that it’s heavy, but lots of things are heavy. I’m an American, as a people we’re pretty heavy, but that doesn’t mean we should all just fatten up on garbage, nutrition-less foods all the time. This album is basically just junk food that fills the gap of silence. It’s just satisfying enough to not be annoying, but is useless for anything beyond pointless (because let’s face it, metal fans don’t exactly exercise beyond walking around the house a few times a day) carbo-loading. I filler album if I’ve ever heard one.


4.25/10