Atmospheric Sludge Metal

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Atmospheric Sludge Metal or Post-Sludge Metal is style that mixes the hardcore doom of Sludge Metal with the atmospherics of Post Rock, often with progressive stylings. Atmospheric Sludge Metal was pioneered by US bands such as Neurosis, Isis and Pelican, building on earlier explorations by bands such as Melvins and Swans.

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CULT OF LUNA A Dawn To Fear Album Cover A Dawn To Fear
CULT OF LUNA
4.74 | 10 ratings
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CULT OF LUNA Mariner (with Julie Christmas) Album Cover Mariner (with Julie Christmas)
CULT OF LUNA
4.79 | 8 ratings
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NEUROSIS Souls at Zero Album Cover Souls at Zero
NEUROSIS
4.48 | 22 ratings
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NEUROSIS Times Of Grace Album Cover Times Of Grace
NEUROSIS
4.39 | 37 ratings
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ISIS Panopticon Album Cover Panopticon
ISIS
4.35 | 64 ratings
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INTRONAUT Prehistoricisms Album Cover Prehistoricisms
INTRONAUT
4.33 | 17 ratings
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ISIS Oceanic Album Cover Oceanic
ISIS
4.24 | 53 ratings
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THE OCEAN Pelagial Album Cover Pelagial
THE OCEAN
4.32 | 11 ratings
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CULT OF LUNA Vertikal Album Cover Vertikal
CULT OF LUNA
4.21 | 17 ratings
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NEUROSIS A Sun That Never Sets Album Cover A Sun That Never Sets
NEUROSIS
4.15 | 25 ratings
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ISIS Wavering Radiant Album Cover Wavering Radiant
ISIS
4.08 | 50 ratings
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SÓLSTAFIR Svartir Sandar Album Cover Svartir Sandar
SÓLSTAFIR
4.39 | 5 ratings
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atmospheric sludge metal Music Reviews

INTRONAUT Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones)

Album · 2013 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The fourth album in the INTRONAUT canon came with the longest title of them all. HABITUAL LEVITATIONS (INSTILLING WORDS WITH TONES) and was released in 2013 and marked a dynamic shift in the band’s sound due to the fact after three albums the vocalists Sacha Dunable and Dave Timmick completely dropped the growly vocal aspects altogether leaving only a clean singing style throughout the album’s 9 tracks that added up to just over 57 minutes of playing time. Of course this is nothing new of progressive sludge metal bands with bands like Mastodon following a similar route however there comes a point where it just isn’t sludge metal any more!

The beauty of INTRONAUT is that this Los Angeles based group has been amazingly consistent in delivering high quality and well-designed albums ever since its debut “Void” in 2006, a trait that continues to the current day. The amazing lineup of Sacha Dunable (guitar, vocals), Joe Lester (bass, upright bass), Danny Walker (drums, samples, 2004-18) and Dave Timnick (guitar, vocals, tabla, percussion) has been stable since the band’s 2008 album “Prehistorians” therefore INTRONAUT has become a well-oiled progressive sludge metal machine that has seamlessly integrated the caustic elements of sludge metal into the context of a bonafide progressive metal band without a flinch.

In this regard, lack of extreme metal vocals disregarded, INTRONAUT continues to craft an amazing web of intricately designed progressive metal composiitons that still implement plenty of heavy sludge metal riffing along with the drumming style that is fairly common in the world of sludgery. Danny Walker still manages to slip in some ethnic sounding percussive effects and the band continues to excel at alternating heavy sludge laden riffs and grooves with the cleaner gone full prog metal guitar effects. The time signatures are ubiquitous as are the mood changes with dynamics, tempos and even instrumental timbres shapeshift in unexpected ways. The music is complex enough that the album requires a number of spins to fully sink in but provides an immediate fix as well albeit not in a way where the complex melodies will get under your skin right away.

The instrumental interplay is the album’s strongest suit with exquisite guitar riffing trade offs from both Dunable and Timmich accompanied by Joe Lester’s phenomenal virtuosic bass playing and Danny Walker’s unique percussive style that tastefully delivers slower beat keeping rhythmic percussion as well as offering jazzy drum rolls and occasional blastbeats. Likewise the sludge-heavy moments are well balanced by the slower contemplative softer parts. Due to the lack of growly vocals HABITUAL LEVITATIONS exudes a more atmospheric vibe than the previous albums which in my opinion is its downfall but nevertheless the album’s compositions are so very, very strong that it’s easy to give it all a pass.

Admittedly my least favorite album in the INTRONAUT universe and one that took the longest to warm up to simply due to the COMPLETE lack of growly vocals. Atmospheric sludge works best IMHO when both styles are fully utilized to offer the much needed contrast otherwise the music sounds like a totally abandonment of the sludge metal side of the fence and fully committed to the world of clean vocal powered progressive metal. Of course other bands like Cynic have jumped that fence but then again what came after is never as convincing or well balanced as what came before. Even Neurosis was wise enough to keep the growly vocal aspects in tact partially on the mellower albums like “A Sun That Never Sets.” After years this one has grown on me and although my least favorite of the lot, a lesser INTRONAUT album is still an excellent album indeed as this band has notched up into my top 10 sludge metal bands of all time.

CULT OF LUNA The Beyond

Album · 2003 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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UMUR
"The Beyond" is the second full-length studio album by Swedish sludge/post-metal act Cult of Luna. The album was released through Earache Records in February 2003. It´s the successor to the eponymously titled debut album from 2001 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as bassist Axel Stattin has been replaced by Andreas Johansson.

Stylistically the material on the album is a continuation of the crushingly heavy post-hardcore/sludge/post-metal style, which Cult of Luna initiated on their debut album. "The Beyond" is generally a more varied and adventurous release than the predecessor, but the core style is pretty much the same. Neurosis is a valid reference but when the band are most heavy and darkly groovy I´m predominantly reminded of fellow Swede post-hardcore act Breach.

"The Beyond" is a very long album featuring 10 tracks and a total playing time of 74:56 minutes, but it´s an album which doesn´t overstay its welcome. Cult of Luna are clever composers who understand that variation and effectful memorable moments are necessary for a listener to sit through a 75 minutes long album. The tracks vary between crushingly heavy post-hardcore sections with aggressive shouting vocals, to mellow slow building post-rock/metal sections, to atmospheric epic sections. "The Beyond" is in many ways a long musical journey and to get the best out of it, you´ll have to completely surrender to it.

The album is well produced featuring a powerful, detailed, and heavy sound production, which suits the material well. The band are a well playing unit too and upon conclusion "The Beyond" is a good quality release from Cult of Luna. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

AEGOS The Current

Single · 2021 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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UMUR
"The Current" is a one-track single release by US, Texas based post-metal/progressive death-doom metal act AEGOS. The single was independently released in November 2021 and it was the last release by AEGOS before they changed their name to Stillbeing (in 2022). AEGOS formed in 2021 and released "The Great Burst of Light" debut album in April 2021.

Stylistically "The Current" opens with a relatively fast-paced death metal section, which isn´t something you´ll encounter on "The Great Burst of Light", so that particular section of "The Current" stands out from the material featured on the debut album. However AEGOS soon takes the pace down to more well known heavy territories and the middle section of the track is in an atmospheric and melancholic post-metal style. Overall "The Current" is a perfect example of the eclectic nature of AEGOS music.

The single us well produced, featuring a heavy, powerful, and detailed sounding production job, and upon conclusion it´s a good quality release perfectly complimenting the material on "The Great Burst of Light". A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

AEGOS The Great Burst Of Light

Album · 2021 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"The Great Burst of Light" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Texas based post-metal/progressive death-doom metal act AEGOS. The album was independently released in April 2021. AEGOS formed in 2021, released "The Great Burst of Light", and "The Current" single in November 2021 before changing their name to Stillbeing in 2022.

The album features 5 tracks and a total playing time of 48:44 minutes. All tracks are at least 6 minutes long, and four of them are around 10 minutes long. It´s slow building, atmospheric, and very heavy post-metal/doom metal with both male- and female clean singing and death metal growling (courtesy of Jei Doublerice from Despite Exile, Abiogenesis). The songs are quite adventurous in sound, structure, and style, and they move through several different timbres, dynamics, and moods. A good example is "Qualia" which features both female singing and saxophone playing on top of a heavy doom metal bottom and a cold almost epic black metal styled atmosphere. "Gravity Bending Light" is another example of the eclectic nature of AEGOS music, as it features a longer middle section featuring cello, which provides that part of the track with an almost chamber like (classical music) atmosphere.

The sound production is powerful, heavy, and detailed, and upon conclusion "The Great Burst of Light" is a good quality debut release by AEGOS. It´s an album for those who crave a little more than just heavy riffs and rhythms when listening to doom metal, and if you prefer a more creative and eclectic take on the genre, this album certainly applies. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

ILENKUS The Crossing

Album · 2014 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Necrotica
A lone man walks into a sea of people. He looks quite unassuming, adorned with a hoodie, jeans, and a pair of headphones. He looks like he’s about to spit some bars to the unsuspecting crowd… but then the unexpected happens. Suddenly, we - and, by association, the people around him - are met with a barrage of piercing screams and aggressive shouts. This man, clearly having balls of steel, has opted not to lip-sync his vocals but instead belt them out at the top of his lungs. The public looks on in equal parts terror and awe, probably wondering if the dude is possessed. It’s an absolute spectacle, to say the least.

What I just described is the video for Ilenkus’ single “Over the Fire, Under the Smoke”, and its chaotic energy is complimented perfectly by the music itself. The Irish outfit’s second album The Crossing is basically the twisted bastard child of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s progressive mathcore and Cult of Luna’s dense atmospheric sludge metal, and the results are pretty breathtaking. Combine technical riffs, blackgaze-esque blast beat sections, incendiary vocals, and contemplative quiet passages, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’ll find here. Much like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Ilenkus are compelling in their ability to come off as controlled and focused while also sounding as utterly vicious as possible. And of course, if we’re gonna talk “vicious”, I need to bring up the individual I was referring to in the first paragraph: Chris Brennan. This guy’s vocals are absolutely savage. His inhuman screaming is an excellent fit for the music, especially during the more “blackened” passages in which he lets loose his most intense wails. This isn’t to say that he uses these vocals all the time - he does opt for cleans during the more reflective moments - but his harsh ones are certainly his most impressive.

Still, the other members rise to the occasion as well. One of the biggest marks in The Crossing’s favor is its diversity, and much of that is attributed to the musicians’ versatility and willingness to experiment. Opener “Devourer” is a perfect example of this, as its unpredictable, turbulent nature makes it both unnerving and exciting - especially when you’re hearing it for the first time. What begins as an all-out barrage on the senses, complete with riffing and drumwork ripped out of the Jane Doe-era Converge playbook, turns into a musical labyrinth that’s equal parts mathy and melodic; hell, the middle section of “Devourer” is so serene and calm that you almost forget just how violent and brutal everything started out. But that’s what I love so much about The Crossing - the fact that these songs really feel like journeys, replete with stimulating twists and turns.

The title track explores these dynamic contrasts even more, and is perhaps the closest thing to post-metal on the entire record. The entire first half is a bleak, doomy Neurosis-esque buildup that merges beauty and bleakness while highlighting the guitarists’ abilities to create atmosphere and intrigue. Brennan, Sam Ellis, and Josh Guyett all contribute to the guitar work found on The Crossing, and if you want a good insight to both their technical prowess and synergy, listen to the title track in its entirety; the way the trio transform the piece from a pensive melodic piece into a tightly-controlled blast of math/sludge fury is impressive as hell. As for drummer Rory Guyett and bassist Robin Van Der Klooster’s collective presence on the record goes, I would refer you to the aforementioned “Over the Fire, Under the Smoke”; it’s the most consistently intense track on The Crossing, and its knotty twists and turns create a wonderful musical playground for the rhythm section to mess around with… most notably, a goddamn black metal section in the middle, in which Guyett gets to show off some killer blastbeats and double bass work.

Yet, as we close things out with “Goodbye Denial”, there’s a strong sense of melancholy. Beneath all the brutality and chaos that pervades much of The Crossing, the underlying vibe is one of decadent, sorrowful beauty - something that even the harsh black metal screams and technically impressive performances can’t fully mask. And this closer is a fitting way to bring it all back home, as even its most vicious moments are imbued with the same desolate aura that defined its quiet intro. Unfortunately, “Goodbye Denial” would also be a fitting title for the band’s last song: after several years of inactivity, Ilenkus finally broke up in 2022, with The Crossing being their final full-length record. It’s a real shame, as I consider this album to be somewhat of a forgotten classic; it absolutely belongs in the same company as Converge or Neurosis’ upper-tier work. And the fact that a band could actually merge such disparate influences as sludge metal and mathcore in the first place? That’s fucking awesome.

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ISIS Clearing The Eye

Movie · 2006 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Triceratopsoil
Probably only really for fans of ISIS (I mean, who else would buy a concert DVD than a fan of the band in question?), but an absolutely great experience. Witness an incredible band at their peak. The main feature here is the full 70 minute performance from Sydney Australia in 2005. Great cinematic camera work, a relaxing and overall fantastic performance of some of the best songs ISIS ever wrote. Top notch. No complaints here, though I'm a giant fanboy so take my opinion with a grain of salt or 10.

Most of the other live videos are curios, though they are quite good - not the same professional sound and video quality as the Australia concert.

I made my mom buy me this for Christmas a few years ago, ahaha

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