Tag Archives: sludge metal

Year End 2017: Best Albums Part 2

Barrabus – Barrabus

“Barrabus’ debut album is a fantastically weird collection of songs that don’t outstay their welcome. It’s all over in 29 minutes and rarely gives you a moment to breath. This is a noisy, sludgy punk album that isn’t too interested in showing any restraint. This album has certainly been a long time coming considering Barrabus’ last release was a demo in 2006, but its arrival is much like Paul Catten himself; unexpected and unrelenting. Long may he reign.”

Click here to read the full review.

Corrupt Moral Altar – Eunoia

“Corrupt Moral Altar are one of the most consistent and extremely exciting bands in heavy music and Eunoia has cemented their position at the forefront of UK grindcore. The band have so many great riffs to share that they end up making a record that sounds like a grindcore compilation but somehow only made by one band. Despite almost exclusively playing as fast as possible, the band manage to sprinkle their music with interesting little moments like the hardcore punk introduction to Burning Bridges and Burning Homes or the enormous, swinging, mosh-pit groove in Rat King. Eunoia is an album that’s almost euphoric in its consistent delivery of grindcore classics for a new generation.”

Click here to read the full review.

Alpha Male Tea Party – Health

If there was one record I’d be considering for ‘Album of the Year’, then this is about as close to it as I can imagine. Alpha Male Tea Party’s Health might look like it has a pretentious album cover and a load of nonsense song titles that wouldn’t look out of place on an early 2000s emo record, but all that is doing is hiding the fact that it houses a gargantuan slab of the best riffs you’ve ever heard. Alpha Male Tea Party blend bright, sugary post rock guitar work with some of the weightiest grooves known to man and they create one of the most satisfyingly pure rock records of the year. Essential listening.

Atragon – I, Necromancer

“It may have taken a long time getting here but Atragon’s I, Necromancer is a gleefully gargantuan doom record that revels in its simplicity. Atragon aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, but if big riffs and even bigger crescendos are something that you get your rocks off to then Atragon certainly have you covered.”

Click here to read the full review.

Esprit D’Air – Constellations

“Esprit D’Air’s Constellations is a wonderfully accomplished debut album that’s full of massive anthems that stand toe-to-toe with the more established J-metal acts. The band also manages to add enough of their own love for progressive music and post rock to make the album stand on its own merits. If you like anthemic, sing-a-long pop metal full of massive riffs and soaring vocal melodies then you can certainly rely on Esprit D’Air to become your new favourite band.”

Click here to read the full review.

Watchcries – Wraith

Do you like metal? Well Watchcries’ Wraith has all of it. All the metal. It’s all here. Wraith is the sound of a band blending death metal, doom, black metal and hardcore together to create the unholiest racket possible. If last year’s EP was a statement of intent, then Wraith is the record that comes to your house and threatens to stab you if you don’t bang your head. An extremely dense record that is entirely devoid of any bullshit, Watchcries’ Wraith is a dream release if you like extreme music.

Glarus – Then and When

Sacha Zucconi’s Glarus expanded from being a solo project to having a full line-up and along with the personnel change came their debut album Then and When. The ex-Hammers man expands his dissonant take on sludge metal-infused hardcore and sprinkles a light dusting of dreamy melody over everything to make a record that is truly massive in scale. A record this good shouldn’t be hidden in the UK toilet circuit. Give it a listen and shout about it to everyone.

Jamie Lenman – Devolver

Unlike Lenman’s previous solo effort Muscle Memory, Devolver crams all the artist’s influences into one cohesive record instead of splitting them into 2 discs. What you get is an album that effortlessly swings between low-fi, indie rock coupled with electronics, to messy and bombastic grunge rock and even industrial metal. Jamie Lenman is fast becoming one of the UK’s auteurs of rock and he deserves to have a solo career as wild and varied as progressive rock greats like Devin Townsend.

Regurgitate Life – Obliteration of the Self

“Obliteration of the Self is a natural step forward for Regurgitate Life and the addition of live drums has made this a more cohesive package as a result. Urwin has admitted in the past that his programmed drum patterns are often a little unruly and near impossible for a real drummer to perform, so having a force like Daryl Best in the band has had such a positive impact on the music. Obliteration of the Self is a brilliant death metal record that showcases two musicians firing on all cylinders and is a “must listen” for anyone who can appreciate music this unrelenting.”

Click here to read the full review.


Year End 2017: Best Albums Part 1

No rankings this year; just a load of heavy records from UK bands and artists that I’ve enjoyed and think are worthy of your time. Please enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lewis xxx

Enter Shikari – The Spark

While The Spark features Enter Shikari at their most laid back and inoffensive, it also showcases how wonderful their song-writing can be when their focus has shifted towards a more positive attitude. For fans of the band’s previous fusion of techno and hardcore, you’re probably not going to find much to hold your attention, but if you’ve stuck with the band throughout their evolution then you’ll be rewarded with a record stuffed full of stadium-sized anthems, tongue-in-cheek metaphors and a generally positive atmosphere that will lift your spirits. Enter Shikari continue to be one of the most exciting bands in UK rock.

Employed to Serve – The Warmth of a Dying Sun

How have Employed to Serve only been a band for five years and amassed such an enormous discography already? On their second long-player, the band show so much confidence that you’d be mistaken for thinking they’ve been together for over a decade. This is one of the greatest metallic hardcore sophomores to come out for quite some time and it’s structured in a way that allows it to ebb and flow between moments of unbridled, hardcore fury and long-form, lurching grooves. One of the most accomplished metallic hardcore albums to come from these shores and an absolutely essential listen for fans of heavy music.

Grand Collapse – Along the Dew

Grand Collapse continue to hold nothing back on their sophomore album Along the Dew. This is a flat out, thrashy, monster of a punk rock album with heart-on-sleeve, politically charged lyrics that never sound false or pretentious. The fact that Grand Collapse have made it to a 2nd album and aren’t one of the biggest punk bands in the country is quite frankly ridiculous. We should be rallying behind bands like this. Grand Collapse care and so should you.

Darko – Bonsai Mammoth

Sitting in a similar space to bands like Gnarwolves, Darko’s debut album Bonsai Mammoth is stuffed with no-nonsense, sing-a-long, punk rock anthems that demand your attention. There’s so much energy and confidence in here that you can’t help but be reminded of so many classic punk rock debuts that this deserves a space next to. Debuts like this are wonderfully refreshing because you’re reminded of how much unfound talent is lurking around the UK’s indie circuits.

Monolithian – The Waning Moon

“The Waning Moon is a hugely successful burst of down-tempo aggression that sees Monolithian drawing on even more varied influences to great effect. It’s been hugely engrossing watching this band go from strength to strength on every release and if The Waning Moon is anything to go by then Monolithian’s next long-player will be an essential doom purchase.”

Click here to read the full review.

OHHMS – The Fool

OHHMS’ debut album The Fool is a real turning point for the band because it finally sounds as big and engaging as their live show. While their previous 2 EPs weren’t exactly bad, they didn’t really capture what it’s like to see them live, which is an experience unto itself. The Fool is a wonderful sludge metal release that keeps you on your toes. Songs twist and turn with wild abandon and despite being mainly a low tempo stomper, there’s enough moments of visceral punk rock and psychedelia in here to highlight how bizarre and unique OHHMS really are. An essential listen.

Helpless – Debt

“Helpless’ Debt is an extremely dense and unrelenting record that makes no apologies for being ridiculously heavy. Helpless use some extremely creative guitar work to create a dark and isolated atmosphere to make an absolute racket in. It may not be the most nuanced long-player you’ll hear, but it certainly delivers one of the most powerful and devastating heavy music experiences of 2017. Lord knows Helpless have a serious task ahead of them if they want to best this record with their next release.”

Click here to read the full review.

Yards – Excitation Thresholds

“Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is an instant recommendation. If you want to hear a passionate, exciting hardcore band putting all their cards on the table and never putting a foot wrong then this is the album for you. Sure, it’s over pretty quickly, but any more time spent with music this visceral would be exhausting. It’s the perfect length for one of the most diverse and relentlessly savage debut albums in recent memory.”

Click here to read the full review.

Year End 2017: Best Splits and EPs

No rankings this year; just a load of heavy records from UK bands and artists that I’ve enjoyed and think are worthy of your time. Please enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lewis xxx


The Tidal Sleep / Svalbard Split 7″

“Despite being a brief listening experience, this a brilliant split 7” that fans of post hardcore should not be sleeping on. Both bands put forward fantastic songs that are well worth your time and the production quality is magnificent throughout, making the entire release sound absolutely massive. Again, it’s wonderfully surprising that such a small release like this can contain such quality.”

Click here to read the full review.

Caïna / Cara Neir Split

2 tracks of nasty, brooding black metal from Texas outfit Cara Neir and Andy Curtis-Brignell’s Caïna. Cara Neir showcase a raspy and atmospheric style that has a strange, folky quality to it. Cara Neir have a really unique sound thanks to this and while the track is obviously heavier than a tonne of bricks, the lilting nature of the guitar melodies adds a sombre tone to the proceedings. This release also marks the final music from Caïna and showcases a more traditionally metal sound which is bizarrely refreshing after the band’s more experimental albums Setter of Unseen Snares and Christ Clad in White Phosphorous. It’s a bittersweet release that reminds you how brilliant Caïna were and that UK heavy music is now missing one of its most fascinating artists.

Dean Lane Hardcore Funday 3 Way Split featuring JFA, Rash Decision and The Broken Bones Gentlemen’s Club

Easily the most entertaining punk split of the year, JFA offer up a selection of live skate punk anthems with all the dirt and filth you’d expect from a bootleg release. Thrash punks Rash Decision serve up 3 new tracks that rock harder than a boulder falling off a cliff, but also manage to put a big, daft grin on your face because their lyrics are just so entertainingly stupid. For example, XErnestXBorgnineX is a track about that infamous Ernest Borgnine interview where he reveals the secret to his long life. The release is rounded off with an absolute belter of a tune from The Broken Bones Gentlemen’s Club; a big, shouty, hardcore punk beast with some of the most satisfying chunky riffs you could want.


A Cunning Man – Practical Applications of Theurgy

“Practical Applications of Theurgy is an extremely unique and almost overbearing symphonic metal release from one of the most gifted Scottish musicians I can think of. This is an extremely accomplished first offering from A Cunning Man and while it sometimes veers dangerously close to being a little too dense for its own good, the song-writing shines brighter and makes for a record that’s more than the sum of its parts. A Cunning Man have an awful lot to offer over these 3 tracks and I’m very excited to see where the project goes in the future.”

Click here to read the full review.

Cult Cinema – Cosmic Horror II

“Cosmic Horror II may be a smaller part in a larger release, but as it stands it marks another bold step forward for Cult Cinema who continue to showcase their violent yet beautiful song writing. Cosmic Horror II is the sound of a band who understand that heavy music is a hell of a lot more powerful when you create contrast and juxtaposition and once again the results are fantastic. By the time this trilogy comes to a close we should have a real highlight of modern post hardcore to enjoy and that in itself is very exciting.”

Click here to read the full review.

Stinky Wizzleteat – Quit Drugs!

“Stinky Wizzleteat’s Quit Drugs! is quite easily the best thing the band have produced to date. This is a really accomplished showcase of progressive, unpredictable sludge metal that manages to rein in the band’s eccentricities just enough to make a cohesive and absolutely punishing record. It would be great to see if the band have an equally effective long-player in them, but only time will tell. Welcome back, guys.”

Click here to read the full review.

Review: Monolithian’s The Waning Moon

The mighty Monolithian have finally returned and they come baring a new 26 minute mini album called The Waning Moon. The blackened doom two-piece still manage to floor me with their enormous, devastating take on doom metal and with The Waning Moon they’ve even managed to cross over into new and unfamiliar territory.

However, before we get to said territory, opener Crone kicks things off and reminds us exactly what makes Monolithian one of the best low tempo metal bands out there. This 6 minute monster of a tune has a preposterously huge riff and a pounding rhythm that will certainly get those invisible oranges raised high. But then we get to the middle eight breakdown and the entire song steps up a notch with a black metal attack that will fuel a serious mosh pit or two. Crone is the sort of song that only Monolithian can make and it’s one of the strongest openings of any doom release.

But what have we here? The next song Nyarlathotep sees Monolithian reaching parts unknown; a reserved, psychedelic take on desert rock that’s expansive, atmospheric and hugely welcome. Monolithian once again manage to prove that despite being only two members strong, they still have a lot of ideas in reserve that can push their music into exciting new territory. It’s here where the album begins to show more variety in the song-writing and it proves that Monolithian are more than just a band who play slow, crushing doom flourished with fast bits.

The rest of The Waning Moon showcases the more familiar Monolithian sound of doom paired with black metal but now with the aforementioned exploration of desert rock, creating devastating slabs of sludgy, bass-lead metal that manages to sound utterly gargantuan. The scale of Monolithian’s music on The Waning Moon is verging on ridiculous, but it’s delivered with such confidence that it’s almost impossible not to lose yourself in.

The Waning Moon is a hugely successful burst of down-tempo aggression that sees Monolithian drawing on even more varied influences to great effect. It’s been hugely engrossing watching this band go from strength to strength on every release and if The Waning Moon is anything to go by then Monolithian’s next long-player will be an essential doom purchase.


Monolithian’s The Waning Moon is out now and available to buy direct from the band on limited edition purple vinyl.

Review: Iron Witch’s A Harrowed Dawn


It feels like Iron Witch’s debut album has been a hell of a long time coming and the journey that the band has gone through has certainly been an interesting one, with quite a few line-up changes over the years. Thankfully, A Harrowed Dawn is still very much an Iron Witch record and it’s probably the most expansive they’ve ever sounded.

On past releases, Iron Witch have definitely straddled the sludgier end of the metal spectrum, but with A Harrowed Dawn, the band have moved into a larger, doomier playing field. This darker, more brooding sound has given Iron Witch a new lease of life and the music on A Harrowed Dawn sounds utterly monolithic when you compare it to the band’s back catalogue.

Songs like Salvation through Nothing get to boast a riff so monstrously gargantuan that it becomes a wonderfully stompy time for all involved. We even get a weirdo, psychedelic breakdown in Machinery of Violence before it unleashes another crushing, mosh-pit riffstrosity. Iron Witch have never sounded so electric and the whole record sounds enormous thanks to the brilliant production job that puts the band’s past releases to shame.

Iron Witch also manage to do that thing I love about the best low tempo music; they don’t compromise playing slow for writing uninteresting songs. A lot of doom bands really bludgeon their riffs to death for far too long, but that’s never a problem with A Harrowed Dawn. It isn’t even that slow of a doom record; songs twist and turn in a surprisingly progressive manner like on the furious Under the Pyre, but Iron Witch always know when to get your attention and beat you with another massive riff. This really is a masterclass in doom metal song writing.

Iron Witch have certainly spent a long time getting to this record and at only 6 tracks long it is a bit slight for a long-player, but those years of writing and touring have turned them into a well-oiled, doom-making machine and A Harrowed Dawn is the realisation of all their achievements so far. This is easily the best and biggest sounding Iron Witch release to date and an essential purchase for any doom fan.


Iron Witch’s A Harrowed Dawn is out now and available to purchase from Secret Law Records.

Live Review: Sea Bastard, Hooden and Allfather at The Dev 20/8/16

The Dev is one of those venues that was clearly not originally designed to be a music venue. There’s about as much floor space in front of the stage to accommodate 20 people packed in tight, the ladies’ toilets are right next to the stage and there’s two massive speaker stacks situated at the front of the stage, obscuring the band. But hey, you can’t complain too much because tonight they’re hosting Sea Bastard, Hooden and Allfather for the grand old price of £Bugger All.


Kicking things off with their special blend of sludge metal and hardcore, Allfather have been a band we’ve had our eyes on for a while. With two great EPs under their belt, the band take the stage with confidence and command their audience with ease. Allfather sound great live with the constant switch between bruising hardcore riffs and low-tempo, sludgy beatdowns being just as exciting live as it is on record. Allfather get a suitably warm reception which is lovely to see from the audience, and for the opening act no less.


Things step up a gear for Hooden. The band deals in an aggressive form of hardcore punk that utilises a lot of bluesy guitar work to add an extra layer of punishment. Musically Hooden sound great, straddling the sort of punk sound that isn’t quite Cancer Bats and isn’t quite The Exploited but somewhere in between. Vocally is where the band falls down somewhat. Their vocalist certainly puts in an unhinged and wild performance, but his actual vocals suffer due to this. There’s no consistency here; the vocal phrasing seems improvised and he jumps around between low-end belching and high-pitched yelps and wailing and it’s pretty abrasive on the ears. Hooden put on a great show regardless but if they could reign in their vocalist a tad then they’d really be onto something special.


This is going to be a difficult passage to write. I don’t like to criticise bands, especially if they feature members of other bands I really adore (Oli used to play in the mighty War Wolf) and that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do here. Sea Bastard just aren’t for me. While their stompy, chunky doom metal is certainly commanding, there’s just not enough going on and it ends up sounding like the band play one continuous song with almost no discernible moments of interest. Sea Bastard structure their songs around slow tempos, a thunderous bass-line and lots of power chords, but there’s a distinct lack of riffs and hooks. It’s almost impossible to tell each song from the next and it just wasn’t engaging me in the way I like.

Live Review: Funeral for a Friend (Hours Show) at the Kentish Town Forum 20/5/2016


London post hardcore act Zoax are a great booking for these final Funeral for a Friend shows. They’re a young, confident band with hooky rock anthems to draw the earlier attendees in. They also get the audience moving early thanks to vocalist Adam Carroll’s insistence on being everywhere. Carroll makes his way onto the Forum’s balcony before making his way onto the floor and getting the audience moving. It wasn’t obnoxious either; the man has a charisma that’s hugely endearing. Zoax left a great impression and put the room in good spirits.


Booking a band like Raging Speedhorn was an odd choice for this show considering how much louder, heavier and screamier they are than everyone else on the bill, but it was great to see some variety that reminded me of a lot of my early gig experiences. Raging Speedhorn weren’t exactly greeted with the same enthusiasm as Zoax but they weren’t booed either; definitely a warm reception, just not a particularly fiery one for a band this aggressive and my God was it aggressive. Raging Speedhorn don’t feel like they’ve been away at all and they power through classics like Fuck the Voodooman and The Gush while showcasing a few numbers from their upcoming album Lost Ritual. The new songs sat perfectly alongside their older material and this offering certainly has me excited for what might be one of the greatest British comeback records in recent years.


When a very soft-spoken Matt Davies-Kreye takes to the stage unceremoniously and then followed by his bandmates, it brings with it an honesty that has always permeated Funeral for a Friend’s music. This is a band that just wants to make music and play it to people. There’s a sombre tone in his voice throughout tonight’s set and he takes every opportunity to give the fans a little backstory about each song from Hours, something he has previously shied away from.

There’s a bizarre atmosphere in the room throughout their performance. Davies-Kreye establishes from the get-go that this is a celebration but that it’s perfectly acceptable to cry if you feel you must and if anything, it felt like he himself actually would at any point during tonight’s set. The audience are phenomenally loud regardless and every song off Hours is sung with enormous enthusiasm by every person in the room.

Funeral for a Friend mean a great deal to a huge amount of people and the band treat the fans to some great surprises in the form of Streetcar b-side I Am the Arsonist and a surprise reunion with Darren Jones and Ryan Richards for a retro version of Juno from their debut EP Between Order & Model. Even so, at no point do Funeral for a Friend go over-the-top tonight. There’s no fanfare and no encore, just wonderful, honest music. God damn it Funeral for a Friend; I’m going to miss you.

Review: Allfather’s Bless the Earth with Fire


Allfather return with their debut… album? Mini-album? Can a 6 track record clocking in at just under 34 minutes really be classed as an album? Sorry, I’ve lost myself already. These things matter to me, okay?

Allfather’s debut album is called Bless the Earth with Fire and it marks a stylistic shift in sound that sees the band move away from their groovy, Raging Speedhorn-esque hardcore to a more sludge and doom-lead sound, similar to the way Iced Out have changed over the years. The band now sound more like Gurt or Iron Monkey which is definitely no bad thing.

Sludge metal suits Allfather down to the ground. The songs on Bless the Earth with Fire are now more long-form with a bigger emphasis on groove. No, wait; not just groove, but punishing groove. Album opener Raskolnikov showcases Allfather’s new found confidence and the power of the riffs lends the sound a lovely swagger that persists throughout.

Things get really doomy for The Bloody Noose which puts Allfather’s new found appreciation of long-form song-writing front and centre. Luckily the band have also seen fit to not completely dump their hardcore roots and have blended them nicely into their new found appreciation of sludge. Mouth of the Beast in particular starts out as the most hardcore-sounding song on the album before moving back into the slower, sludgier tempos that have come before it.

The real highlight of Bless the Earth with Fire comes in the form of the 11 minute behemoth Death, and Hell Followed with Him. Quite easily the best thing the band have produced so far, this song starts out like a doom track, unleashes a fantastic solo around the 4 minute mark and then brings back that savage groove around 6 minutes. It’s so wonderfully diverse and loaded with neck-breaking riffs; a real treat for fans of heavy music.

Allfather have evolved significantly since their debut EP and with Bless the Earth with Fire we see the band writing more diverse and interesting songs that complement the shift towards sludge metal. It also rocks like a mother fucker.


Allfather’s Bless the Earth with Fire is out now and can be bought on CD and cassette direct from the band.

Review: Slabdragger’s Rise of the Dawncrusher


It’s been a long time coming, but Slabdragger are back in action with their sophomore album Rise of the Dawncrusher; a massive, sludgy, behemoth of a concept album that improves on their debut in every conceivable way. Got your attention?

Slabdragger were already a force to be reckoned with and their debut album Regress showcased their ultra-dense grooves and long-form song structures in a fantastic way, but with Rise of the Dawncrusher, everything is now even heavier without sacrificing melody and it’s just glorious. Genuinely glorious. I felt like I was having a metal epiphany listening to this record. I imagine if Hendrix was into Black Sabbath, this is the sort of thing he’d make.

Opening with the 11 minute beast that is Mercenary Blues, Slabdragger put their quite brilliant guitar work front and centre and it makes for a seriously punishing yet hugely memorable experience that will keep fans of all things slow and groovy extremely satisfied. The amount of amazing riffs in this song should be illegal and they all deserve to be included in ‘Top 10 Riffs of All Time’ articles.

It doesn’t end there. This record is an absolute monster from start to finish. Slabdragger follow up the opening track with the unashamedly ripping Evacuate!; one of the most disgustingly noisy things Slabdragger have ever concocted. Then it’s back to the groove with the monstrous Shrine of Debauchery; a song with a title so metal it’s probably chrome-plated.

Look, I realise this review is big on the hyperbole, but it’s not often I’m given a record so delicious and as utterly mouth-watering as Rise of the Dawncrusher. It’s everything I want from a sludge record and more and it’s honestly quite difficult to believe it actually exists.

The UK is spoilt for great sludge as Slabdragger are competing with other brilliant acts like Limb, Gurt, Monolithian and Opium Lord, but Rise of the Dawncrusher sets a new standard for UK sludge metal. Slabragger have written a follow-up so utterly devastating that it demands your attention. Slabdragger, man; what a band.


Slabdragger’s Rise of the Dawncrusher is out now and available to buy on CD and vinyl from Holy Roar Records.

Total Rock: Catbird’s Sunday Roasting 17/1/2016

total rock logo

On Sunday the 17th of January 2016 we finally returned to Total Rock to appear on Catbird’s Sunday Roasting! If you missed our appearance on the show then you can click below to listen to the podcast on MixCloud. Here’s a list of our picks and the time-stamps for each song are listed beside them:

11:59 – SikTh – Philistine Philosophies
42:18 – Boxkite – Cycles
50:29 – TORPOR – As Waves Crash
1:04:23 – Gnarwolves – Boneyard
1:14:25 – I, The Lion – Hold Strong
1:20:21 – Eulogy – Deaf Cult
1:44:17 – Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Chopsticks and Bad Meatballs
1:50:20 – Iced Out – Man’s Ruin
1:53:58 – TEEF – Consumed
1:56:25 – Samoans – Stompbox
2:05:06 – Mage – One for the Road