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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NEUROSIS Souls at Zero Album Cover Souls at Zero
NEUROSIS
4.52 | 13 ratings
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NEUROSIS Times Of Grace Album Cover Times Of Grace
NEUROSIS
4.35 | 28 ratings
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ISIS Panopticon Album Cover Panopticon
ISIS
4.30 | 53 ratings
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NEUROSIS Through Silver In Blood Album Cover Through Silver In Blood
NEUROSIS
4.26 | 43 ratings
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ISIS Oceanic Album Cover Oceanic
ISIS
4.23 | 41 ratings
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INTRONAUT Prehistoricisms Album Cover Prehistoricisms
INTRONAUT
4.30 | 14 ratings
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CULT OF LUNA Vertikal Album Cover Vertikal
CULT OF LUNA
4.21 | 14 ratings
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NEUROSIS A Sun That Never Sets Album Cover A Sun That Never Sets
NEUROSIS
4.17 | 15 ratings
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THE OCEAN Anthropocentric Album Cover Anthropocentric
THE OCEAN
4.13 | 22 ratings
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ISIS Wavering Radiant Album Cover Wavering Radiant
ISIS
4.08 | 41 ratings
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THE OCEAN Pelagial Album Cover Pelagial
THE OCEAN
4.21 | 7 ratings
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CULT OF LUNA Somewhere Along The Highway Album Cover Somewhere Along The Highway
CULT OF LUNA
4.03 | 31 ratings
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atmospheric sludge metal Music Reviews

ORO Djupets Kall

Album · 2019 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Kev Rowland
This is the debut album from Swedish sludge/doom quartet Oro, who came together in 2014. ‘Djupets Kall’ (‘The Deep Call’) is an album which is combining elements from lots of different areas including post and black metal to create something which at times is incredibly beautiful and at others dark and foreboding. The bass sounds as if it is about to go out of tune at any moment as the strings are loose and distorted, while the drums pound into the brain and the guitars often create a leaden curtain of sound which doesn’t let any light escape. Petter Nilsson is in pain, crying in anguish with vocals which are coarse and laden with emotion, while the lead guitar solos are like laser beams cutting through the darkness. They may be slow and steady, but they provide just the right amount of dynamic contrast to the hurt and pain everyone is going through. Just one thing, the band just needs to understand it is never right to fade out a song, as that can’t happen when on stage so there has to be a way of ending it!

Classic Neurosis is the closest I can come to in terms of comparisons, but there are more Black and Post influences within it as the band are stretching the sludge/doom genres. Powerful, emotional, this is quite a debut. There is a great deal going on within it and it does need repeated listening to get the best from it, but overall this is a worthy journey.

THE MOTH GATHERER Esoteric Oppression

Album · 2019 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Kev Rowland
The Moth Gatherer are back with their third full-length album, again centered around atmospheric doom, sludge and post metal. Formed in 2008 by Victor Wegeborn and Alex Stjernfeldt, as a form of therapy to help them deal with loss, the band name is an allegory for finding hope; similar to moths who are always searching for the light. The band has changed over the years, growing in size although musically always staying close to their roots, but there has been quite a dramatic shift this time as although Alex provided the lyrics, he has now left the band with Victor now providing vocals, guitar and electronics. He is joined by Ronny Westphal (guitars), Svante Karlsson (drums) and Dan Hemgren (bass).

The band play incredibly slowly, but the post metal atmospheric sound mean they never seem to be struggling in a morass, rather the atmosphere is so pervasive on everything they do that it just isn’t possible to play any more quickly. They are less like searching for moths in the night than an army walking over a moor shrouded in fog. It is incredibly evocative music, which is heavy but also dreamlike, as the band toy with Burzum-style black metal without ever really embracing it as they move in a different direction. This is music to get lost inside, and when they move away from the intensity into something lighter it is as if a sunbeam has pierced the all-enveloping mist, but soon it is back again. This is music which feels ancient, as if it is linked to the bones of the earth, with vocals full of passion and pain. This is incredibly deep music, far more than just another metal album, and expects the listener to pay close attention. Highly recommended to be played on headphones, it just doesn’t seem to work any other way. Impressive stuff indeed, but not for the fainthearted.

THE OCEAN Precambrian

Album · 2007 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Warthur
Precambrian offers up two distinct musical trips, with an overarching theme concerning the earliest phases of Earth's formation. Hadean/Archaean offers about 20 minutes of direct aggression; Proterozoic offers an hour of more contemplative atmospheric sludge metal veering into progressive rock or New Age music at points. The full 80 minute package is, to be honest, a bit of a chore to listen to - but break it up into its two component parts and select the piece which suits your current mood better, and the overall package is substantially improved. Let's say it's a three star album packaged with a four star album - but which is which will hinge on the tastes of the individual listener.

TESA Heartbeatsfromthesky

Album · 2008 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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siLLy puPPy
TESA formed in the Latvian capital city Riga in 2005 from members of the bands In.Stora, Kriegopfer and Les Corte before mastering the fine art of the progressive post-metal / atmospheric sludge metal that found them on the top of the European scene. This power trio consists of Dāvis Burmeisters (guitars), Kārlis Tone (bass guitar, vocals) and Jānis Burmeisters (drums, vocals) who have been quite successful over the last decade at European and Russian tours and festivals with the most famous gigs playing with the US sludge metal pioneers Neurosis as well as the more drone oriented Canadian band Nadja.

The band released two EPs in the form of 2006 combo pack “Depo” and the eponymously titled release. Two years later found the debut full-length HEARTBEATSFROMTHESKY (alternatively written as HEART BEATS FROM THE SKY) which consists of six untitled tracks that conspire to create a larger than life atmospheric sludge metal experience. The band’s main influences include not only Neurosis but also Shora, Grails, Nadja, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and even Converge. While categorized as metal, the band seems to spend as much time in post-rock territory as with the more energetic metal bombast. For the most part this debut album is instrumental with a few subdued screamed vocal parts emerging from the ruckus.

While not dissimilar to bands like Isis, Russian Circles and other post-metal bands, TESA dishes out lengthy soundscapes that plod along at mid-tempo and offer sublime mixes of textures, darkened melodies, ambient soundscapes, hypnotic repetitive loops and touches of noise all dressed up in a stellar production. What makes HEARTBEATSFROMTHESKY stand out from the post-metal pack is the unique mix of the destructive riffs that contrast with a ridiculous amount of layers of guitar sounds and atmospheric soundscapes that offer a slight doom metal touch. While the pure metal parts are rare, when they do emerge the guitars erupt into a pyroclastic flow of distorted head banging riffage that eclipses the mostly dominant ambience of the album’s 32 minute run.

TESA dish out the kind of post-rock that would surely please in a live setting as the cyclical grooves reverberate across a packed stadium however in the creativity department they implement the status quo of a post-rock album in a metal context and don’t actually stand out from the many other bands ranging from Cult of Luna and Rosetta to Jesu. In fact they are probably less diverse than any of the aforementioned as the formula sticks to the playbook. The biggest draw on HEARTBEATSFROMTHESKY is surely the impeccable production and mixing job that makes this a real treat to listen to. While the vocals are subdued under the sheer magnitude of the fiery instrumental section, they can be heard creating interesting counterpoint harmonies when used. Overall this is a decent slice of post-metal but one i’d hardly call overly essential either.

THE OCEAN Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

Album · 2018 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Metal is dead they say! But is it? Of course not but the naysayers seem to think that since there is no unifying metal band such as a Led Zeppelin, a Metallica or an Iron Maiden to rally around in the 21st century that the grandiose nature of the genre surely must be just a pathetic shadow of its former glory. Au contraire! The metal universe has never been so large and seen so many torches carried from the past masters and an even greater number of new torches being lit seemingly every single day. The big bang that began in the late 60s with proto-metal bands like Gun, Jimi Hendrix Experience and Iron Butterfly just to name a few, quickly led to the first metal oriented bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. While it would take a decade or so for the genre to branch off from the parent trunk, once the process began, it splintered off into a million directions and well into the 21st century we are treated to a genre that can seemingly adapt to any disparate musical style and inspiration that has ever been proposed.

Bands like THE OCEAN remind me of exactly how far the metal genre has evolved since its humble nascency that was a mere angsty reaction to the blues oriented rock. This German band while starting out in their own state of sludge metal disquietude has continually ratcheted up the complexity of their albums as they went from a chaotically noisy punk infused sludge metal band to a bona fide progressive behemoth that tamed their aggressive tendencies and funneled them into a more post-metal paradigm that implemented the incredibly diverse classical music elements and electronic sounds that have placed them in a rather unique niche of the progressive metal universe. Led by founder and guitarist Robin Staps, this band that is also known as THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE found a more stable lineup beginning with their album “Heliocentric” and has continued to awe and amaze the world with a series of sophisticated albums that uniquely incorporate Earth’s geologic history into the compositional process and while the geologic themes presented in all their nerdiness may seem a tad eccentric, the fact is that this band is absolutely brilliant in how they adapt the geological themes to the more personal human level of reality.

The title of THE OCEAN’s 7th studio album (not counting re-recordings, EPs or demos) is officially PHANEROZOIC I - PALAEOZOIC, so first of all we need a few definitions of the title so that the lyrical content makes a lot more sense. The PHANEROZOIC eon is the current geologic eon in the time scale which hosts the most abundant eon for all flora and fauna that has ever existed and began 541 million years ago with the Cambrian period when a huge diversity of hard-shelled animals made their debut onto life’s stage. The PALAEOZOIC era (also spelled PALEOZOIC) is the earliest of three geologic eras (the others being the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic) of the PHANEROZOIC era and lasted from 541 to 251 millions ago. THE OCEAN is serious about their scientific terminology and the seven mostly lengthy tracks tackle the unthinkable task of narrating the geological periods that the PALAEOZOIC era is divided into. There are only six periods, however the beginning Cambrian is divided into two tracks with the other periods following, the Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous (if you’re really a nerd you’d know this period is divided into two sub-periods, the Pennsylvanian and Mississippian!) and last but not least the Permian whose ending saw one of planet Earth’s largest mass extinctions in its entire history. That’s your geology lesson for the day, so how about the music?

As i’ve already stated, THE OCEAN may insinuate that the lyrical content comes right out of a university text book but in fact, the lyrics are quite nebulous and have double meanings while relating to the geologic narrative, they also incorporate the personal aspects of life. THE OCEAN seems to get more ambitious with each release and this latest endeavor is certainly no exception to that trend. While it’s true that THE OCEAN do not deviate from what came before and stick to their carved out niche like a scuba diver to an air tank, what THE OCEAN does accomplish on PHANEROZOIC is a nice mix of their early heavy chunky guitar riffs of sludge metal with frantic screamed vocals mixed with the sensual amorphous classical meanderings that showcase tender clean vocals with supplemental instrumentation that includes cello, trumpet, trombone, piano and symphonic atmospheres that find the band pulling a Jekyll & Hyde for much of the album.

One uniting factor is the progressive workouts that permeate both aggressive and placid aspects of the band as irregular time signature rich cadences jitter by with the accompaniment of jazzy drum gymnastics and hypnotizing post-metal meanderings that find repetitious riffing slowly transmogrify into a larger picture much like the geologic eras that change so slowly that we cannot perceive them. While the previous album “Pelagial” was in danger of exterminating the sludge metal aspects of THE OCEAN’s own musical history, PHANEROZOIC unapologetically brings back the harsher aspects of the band’s earliest recordings without sacrificing the progressive and atmospheric accomplishments they’ve accrued since their 2007 landmark album “Precambrian.” Suffice it to say, THE OCEAN strike a mean balance between their harshest moments of albums like “Aeolian” and the post-rock serenity of “Pelagial.” PHANEROZOIC finds the perfect balance between these two worlds and best of all this wider sonic spectrum is brilliantly mixed with a production value that perfectly balances the distorted metal outbursts with the exquisitely divine orchestral moments. While the final track is titled “Permian: The Great Dying,” it seems safe to bet that THE OCEAN won’t go extinct anytime soon. This phenomenal work is by far one of 2018’s most ambitious metal projects even if it hasn’t exactly expanded the elements that they are known for.

atmospheric sludge metal movie reviews

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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