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
4.82 | 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 | 36 ratings
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ISIS Panopticon Album Cover Panopticon
ISIS
4.33 | 62 ratings
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NEUROSIS Through Silver In Blood Album Cover Through Silver In Blood
NEUROSIS
4.34 | 52 ratings
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CULT OF LUNA Mariner (with Julie Christmas) Album Cover Mariner (with Julie Christmas)
CULT OF LUNA
4.75 | 5 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
4.22 | 51 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
4.18 | 22 ratings
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THE OCEAN Pelagial Album Cover Pelagial
THE OCEAN
4.28 | 9 ratings
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THE OCEAN Anthropocentric Album Cover Anthropocentric
THE OCEAN
4.11 | 25 ratings
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Nebula
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V/HAZE MIASMA
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The Long Road North
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atmospheric sludge metal Music Reviews

NEUROSIS Souls at Zero

Album · 1992 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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SilentScream213
This was one of the biggest surprises in my course of listening to Metal evolve chronologically, for a few reasons. First of all, I hadn’t been a fan of Sludge Metal or Neurosis so far, so my expectations were something very different. Second of all wow, it’s breathtaking, especially considering absolutely nothing sounded like this in 1992, not even close. The layering, atmosphere, and building crescendos here are what would become the genre of Post-Metal, as well as Atmospheric Sludge.

Despite that terminology, this album has much more in common with Doom than any prior Sludge, and that’s why I love it! It’s all pessimistic melancholy and gloomy angst here, built on anxious, depressive but often melodic and sometimes beautiful melodies. The slow, plodding tempo is accented nicely by interesting rhythm work. The vocals are the only trait really reminiscent of Sludge, being a hardcore punk-esque strained yell that works wonders against the grim soundscapes. The desperation and angst in the vocals is ferociously convincing.

The core band creates some amazing instrumental soundscapes, the guitars especially doing some very interesting things I couldn’t begin to describe to add to the wall of punishment. It sounds dissonant, but never chaotic; very well constructed and orchestrated to add unique layers to the sound. However, possibly the most interesting factor to this album are the samples and other instruments/keys used quite liberally. The samples effectively convey some hopeless situation or another, and add to that overall anxiety purveying every moment. The other editions are endless… piano, violin, big band hits, horns, and more. Some are obviously synthed, so it might all be the work of keys, but it adds so much to the already very strong arrangements.

Something I noticed were a lot of moments that reminded me of one of my favorite bands, Mar de Grises (before now I hadn’t heard anything that really did). I think that shows the clear Doom sound here as well as the Post-Metal influence on the later band. Anyway, this thing is very nearly a masterpiece, huge variety and immense quality. A few fillers hold it down, but the heights are vast.

INTRONAUT Void

Album · 2006 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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UMUR
"Void" is the debut full-length studio album by US progressive/sludge metal act Intronaut. The album was released through Goodfellow Records in August 2006. It saw a slightly more prolific label release (in Europe) through Lifeforce Records in November 2006 (featuring the bonus track "Fragments Of Character"). Intronaut formed in 2004 and released the "Null" EP in February 2006. The quartet lineup who recorded the EP is intact on "Void".

The first thing I always notice when putting on an Intronaut release is the high level musicianship. "Void" is of course no exception to that rule, and there are several moments of skillful jaw-dropping playing and great interplay between the musicians here. So we´re off to a good start with the impact of the great musical performances. Stylistically the music is progressive sludge metal featuring raw hardcore shouted/semi-growling vocals. The vocals are probably the least interesting thing about the album, although they are well performed and definitely get the job done. They just don´t stand out much from the vocals on other similar contemporary releases. It´s especially the rhythm section which are exceptionally well playing and who drives the music forward with powerful, organic, and groove oriented beats and rhythm patterns (often fusion influenced but also very percussive in style). That part of the music is very busy but still in a tasteful way.

The tracks are dynamic and features both hard edged distorted riffs and aggressive vocals, and more mellow sections. There are quite a few longer instrumental sections on the tracks, which are where the band really shine. The album is loaded with creative songwriting ideas and "Void" can definitely be labelled an adventurous release. "Void" not only features high level musicianship, and creative songwriting, but also features a professional, powerful, and detailed sound production which suits the material perfectly.

Upon conclusion this is pretty uncompromising music and while I almost always praise such an approach, I still think a few more catchy moments would have made "Void" a slightly better album, but if you enjoy heavy, rhytmic, and groove oriented progressive metal with aggressive raw vocals, and unconventional song structures, this is a recommended listen. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

ENRAPTURE Another Green Drought

Album · 2021 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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BitterJalapeno
Released in January 2021, “Another Green Drought” is the debut studio album by Norwegian progressive sludge/post-metal band Enrapture. From the very first track, it is clear we have a trio of skilled musicians who play as a tight unit and display a high level of confidence in their musicianship. The material has a progressive structure and showcases a sophisticated approach to songwriting by displaying continual variances in chord progressions, riff structures, tempo and time signatures with rhythmically complex arrangements throughout. In addition, we see an abandonment of the traditional verse/chorus method in favour of a through-composed structure.

The opener “Badlands” wastes no time and instantly pummels the listener with a healthy dose of powerful, crunchy riffs and aggressive, technical drumming accompanied by harsh screamed vocals. This sets the tone for the whole album but there are moments of respite here and there in the form of more atmospheric sections with clean vocals, some of which touch lightly on psychedelic music. The penultimate track “Groundswells” is a standout track boasting riff after riff of killer sludge before building into an atmospheric epic.

The album is of a consistent quality but my greatest joy comes from the successful juxtaposition of the brutally heavy side of metal and the mood-elevating qualities of post-rock music which does not always work for me. On this release, it is truly majestic and transports me between heaven and hell and sometimes to both simultaneously – the best example of this is showcased in “Floodwaters and the Desert” which features a dreamlike soundscape overlain with a mixture of harsh screaming, some clean vocals and delightful mix of heavy and uplifting lead guitar parts.

In conclusion, we are presented with a high quality and confident sounding debut release by Enrapture in a time when a plethora of bands are trying to project a similar sound. I feel Enrapute have done well to differentiate themselves somewhat from their peers and I am very much looking forward to hearing what they produce next.

Highly recommended to fans of Intronaut and Mastodon.

CULT OF LUNA Vertikal

Album · 2013 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Peacock Feather
After the schizophrenic stream of consciousness demonstrated at Eternal Kingdom, Swedish post-metalists from Cult of Luna turn to the abstract elevation and move further away from sludge component, replacing it with abundant electronics inlays, which, by the way, open even more and even larger spaces, as if the listener put in place of the lyrical hero of Mute Departure. In general, post-metal is a genre in which you need to perfectly play intonations, and Cult of Luna always succeeds in doing it great, although, it would seem, the entire field of the genre was plowed almost 10 years ago, when the ball ruled by a well-known group with a forbidden name (in Russia at least).

Yet not burdened by talent, Cult of Luna somehow miraculously still shows the power of post-metal, and they can create truly mesmerizing things with its extraterrestrial beauty in such a chimerical genre, whether it's a psychedelic and powerful I: The Weapon, epic in every sense Vicarious Redemption or piercing Mute Departure. There is a place on the album for more classic CoL things, such as Synchronicity and In Awe Of, well, where without electronic interludes.

Vertikal shows that Swedish adherents are still great masters in creating monuments of their genre, monuments that grow different muscles and which function in a completely magical way. Whether it's the chemistry developed over a long time between the participants, or it's just a huge talent, multiplied by the expedibility of the material on the album (based, as you all know, on the masterpiece of German cinema of the 20s called "Metropolis"), verdict remains simple: a magnificent sample of the '10 post-metal and one of the best albums made by Cult of Luna.

ISIS Celestial

Album · 2000 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Unitron
Before Isis really popularized Neurosis' blend of sludge metal and post-rock, with a bunch of mediocre copycats following in their wake and making classic sludge that much harder to find, Celestial showed how earth-shatteringly heavy they could be. Perfectly blending Neurosis' atmospheric take on sludge with the screeching aggression of Floor, this hits a perfect balance that their later albums lost. The title track's massive riff just stomps and stomps and remains one of the most thunderous songs in the entire metal genre.

To not sacrifice the heaviness of sludge or the subtleties of post-rock, they typically don't overlap the two sounds and use post-rock sections for contrast making them that much more atmospheric and the sludge that much sludgier. C.F.T. cools things down throughout a whole song though, and reminds me a lot of Golden Earring's song Silver Ships. It's a mellow ride until its galloping end, but the production and guitar/bass tones still make it a wall of sound.

This is hardcore sludge that can be played alongside both Neurosis and the likes of Crowbar and Floor.

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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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