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

Cough – Still They Pray

You know it dawned on me while listening to this that it’s actually been around 5 months since I’ve reviewed a proper stoner doom album. Sure I reviewed Church of Misery’s new record in March, but that was much more stoner than doom. You really have to go back to Conan’s record Revengeance that I reviewed in mid February to find a proper heavy as fuck stoner doom album. And even then I didn’t like it at all. Even in general I’ve had a massive lack of doom metal reviews compared to last year, where I reviewed almost 50 I’m pretty sure. This year has been around 15 past the halfway mark. It’s just funny because doom metal (stoner doom in particular) was really the first metal genre that got me into the whole scene. Literally this whole episode of my life was started because one morning before school I decided to listen to Dopethrone. Last year I even commented while trashing some no name band from Russia’s stoner doom album that I didn’t think it was possible for me to hate a stoner doom album until now. A year later I barely listen to doom metal at all. Funny how things change.

I really do think if I had reviewed this last year I would probably be giving it a damn high score. I’m talking maybe high 8 range. This is in part due to the fact that the first half of Still They Pray is Cough’s shameful Electric Wizard worship. I mean worship that’s so hard they’re sucking that wizard’s cock like his cum is bong juice. I guess they can claim that it’s more atmospheric and less riff-centric than E-Wiz, but you’re splitting hairs at that point. Even right down to the exact guitar tone and vocal mannerisms, this is some shameful riff-off shit. Now that sounds like I’m shit talking them, and I am, but only for being uncreative. Musically, if you need to rip-off a band, Electric Wizard is a pretty damn good band to rip off in my opinion (as if that wasn’t obvious by this site’s name). And again, due to this, a year ago I would’ve praised the fuck out of this. But I have some more miles on me now. I’ve seen a fair amount of shit, and that shit’s told me there’s better shit than this shit right here. My pants no longer get soaked by anything ridiculously heavy, I am a more refined man, who would rather listen to poorly played guitars screech randomly while some Norwegian guy yells about how much he wants to kill black people and Christians, than a few British dudes playing extremely heavy blues rock and singing about weed. Artistic merit and whatnot.

But man, thank god albums come in two halves, right? Yeah, the first half is just copying the kings of their genre in a pretty correct but overdone way (I mean fuck, not even the band literally named Dopethrone copies this hard). But the second half is where the album really starts. Let it Bleed is the top track on this album, featuring a MUCH more subdued, almost heart aching, mostly instrumental doom experience that doesn’t let up at all until the end of the album. The final four tracks are like almost an album by themselves, a weed induced journey through your mind and soul. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt sad listening to a stoner doom album. They have this reflective quality in them that’s almost meditative in a way. I mean fuck me, those strained vocals on The Wounding Hours get to me man. Those don’t sound like far out stoned vocals, those sound like cries for help. And the organ to end the track just… fuck man. Since when does music for cheech and chong make me soft in the dong? I will say that the closer, the title track Still They Pray is a bit weak. Yes, it’s nice to have that cooldown with the clean vocals and acoustic guitar, but I really wanted that held organ chord to end the whole thing. Would’ve bee much more powerful, and brought the album time down slightly (which would be good, this shit’s 68 minutes long).

When Cough isn’t being a copycat, they make some great shit. I get it, this produced by one of the dudes from Electric Wizard, so they’re going to leave their mark somewhere. But it would’ve been nice if I hadn’t had to wait through around 35 minutes of ok music to get to the good part. But when the good part hits, it’s hits it harder than a junkie going through a breakup, delivering a uniquely somber, psychedelic, and satisfying experience that I had only wished I could have experienced a bit longer.


7.25/10