Nary is there a more manly art than sludge metal. Totimoshi recently proved that them with teats are equally adept at flying the mud-crusted flag, so its no boy's club in its nature, but there is something purely knucklehead masculine about it. Its like that annual game of mud football you get in, or when provoked at a work party gone akimbo, you wrestle a co-worker whose shit you have to endure day in and out. It just feels good. It's not a workout, it's not even a release; it's just opening that cellar door and letting the inner caveman off the leash for a bit.
One recent release that makes me want to get my Incredible Hulk on (really, when you get into that tired "what superpower would you want?" meme, Hulk powers are the logical choice, no?) is Vampire Circus from Maryland Sasquatch-metal combo Earthride. The fat giant riffs sound like they came from a volcano, and singer/bassist Dave Sherman has a sack-of-meat wrecking ball voice that sounds like it suffered under hours of practice for a belch-the-alphabet tournament against Lemmy from Motorhead. In other words, it's absolutely brilliant.
Like many sludge classics, the songs kinda all tread the same muddied waters but the ones that stick out are "Understand" with a guitar solo that can only be doused by holy bongwater (when are we as a musical community going to get over our aversion to the guitar solo? We don't need to go on for 10 minutes or anything, but c'mon. Everyone loves a perfect quick guitar solo.) and the organ-ground end times blues of "Dirtnap." And really, my favorite on any sludge record is the extended "Maggot Brain" moment (and in case you didn't know, Funkadelic's 10-ton album of that title is as important a document in doom metal as the first Black Sabbath album, though its influence may be subliminal to the average practitioner of the dark art) and that is found in "Loss" which beats that dead horse for a merciful 6 minutes. Bursts of guitar smoke erupt in between the hooves of the Reapers horse as he surveys the poisoned crop of humanity for his next soul. Or something like that. It's a bleak picture, but the fun kind of bleak. The kind of bleak that you can water ski behind. It's meat and potatoes anhililation Earthride trade in, and it's your buds left slackjawed, holding your beer.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
The Review of the Year of Things #1: Jason Lewis surveys the years' great albums and noting so many, compartmentalized, as men do. So, here, albums by those so profoundly impacted by Death