Sludge Metal

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Sludge metal generally combines the slow tempos, heavy rhythms and dark, pessimistic atmosphere of doom metal with the aggression, shouted vocals and occasional fast tempos of hardcore punk.

Post Sludge / Atmospheric Sludge metal This metal movement takes influences from post-rock as well as from sludge metal. While it is in many ways similar to post-rock, post-sludge metal tends to include lower-tuned guitars, darker themes and tones, and heavier drums. Post-sludge stresses emotion, contrasting the ambiance of post-rock with the weight and bombast of metal. Vocals are deemphasized or non-existent, and lyrics tend to be equally abstract: often thematic or philosophical in nature. It was originally a largely American phenomenon, but also included in its development some Japanese bands. Bands like Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna, and Pelican write lengthy songs (typically five or six per album) that can range from light and guitar-driven to extremely heavy, drum and bass-driven.

Atmospheric Sludge Metal

Post-metal as with atmospheric sludge is a genre that uses metal music to create a sound that draws heavily on atmospheres and textures.

This approach was used by many sludge metal bands including ISIS, Neurosis and Pelican, combining post-rock techniques with sludge metal. Bands in other genres including black metal and doom also combined those styles with atmospheric elements to create metal best described as atmospheric black metal or atmospheric doom metal (or atmospheric folk metal etc). Those bands are listed in MMA under atmospheric sludge metal, atmospheric black metal, doom metal or whatever core style best describes them.

A number of bands originally rooted in those styles moved away from their original sludge (or other) metal roots, increasingly focusing on the post-metal elements of their sound. Others were never based on those styles of metal and took their influences directly from post-rock, adding metal elements to create a more abrasive and expansive sound. These bands are listed as post-metal.

Post-metal is captured as a child-sub of sludge metal on MMA to reflect the stylistic origins of many post-metal bands in atmospheric sludge metal, albeit those origins have largely been left behind.

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • Bosh66 (leader)

sludge metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

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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CROWBAR Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form Album Cover Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form
CROWBAR
4.62 | 9 ratings
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NEUROSIS Times Of Grace Album Cover Times Of Grace
NEUROSIS
4.39 | 36 ratings
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CROWBAR Broken Glass Album Cover Broken Glass
CROWBAR
4.46 | 14 ratings
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ISIS Panopticon Album Cover Panopticon
ISIS
4.34 | 64 ratings
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MASTODON Crack The Skye Album Cover Crack The Skye
MASTODON
4.31 | 106 ratings
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JULIE CHRISTMAS Mariner (with Cult Of Luna) Album Cover Mariner (with Cult Of Luna)
JULIE CHRISTMAS
4.69 | 4 ratings
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MASTODON Leviathan Album Cover Leviathan
MASTODON
4.25 | 96 ratings
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INTRONAUT Prehistoricisms Album Cover Prehistoricisms
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ISIS Oceanic Album Cover Oceanic
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4.23 | 53 ratings
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sludge metal Music Reviews

CULT OF LUNA The Beyond

Album · 2003 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

CROWBAR Odd Fellows Rest

Album · 1998 · Sludge Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
SilentScream213
An unfortunate example of an album where the first (actual) track is far and away the best song on the album, and a bit misleading. After a moody intro, Crowbar open up Odd Fellows Rest with “Planets Collide,” their Doomiest song yet, with plodding atmosphere and emotional guitar leads paving the way for the destructive, pained vocals and lyrics. It’s a great song in evoking the pessimistic suffering when Sludge and Doom are mixed so well.

And then, almost all of the following songs trade this sort of atmosphere for a more Groove-oriented rhythmic chugging. Guitar leads are basically absent. Riffs are sometimes monolithic, but lack emotion. Rhythm section is more boring. The songs are still good, but pale in comparison to the opener and much of the band’s previous material. It does sound very 90’s and it’s got that stereotypical “we don’t need to write riffs if we chug” play style. Unfortunately this one was a big disappointment for me, especially after that first track.

SQUALUS The Great Fish...

Album · 2017 · Sludge Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
One of the best known Bay Area sludge metal bands was the avant-garde weirdos Giant Squid who got their wheels turning in Sacramento before finding a more suitable freakazoid home in San Francisco. This band was highly influential and innovative in its unique approach of mixing various musical styles such as sludge and doom metal with post-rock and chamber rock. The band’s unique stylistic approach that even incorporated the cello caught them the attention they deserved and the respect they demanded. Having existed for nearly 15 years, Giant Squid finally called it a day with their final release “Minoans” from 2014 presumably heading back to the depths of the sea.

It didn’t take long for the members to forge new paths. In fact it only took a single year for four members of Giant Squid, Aaron Gregory (vocals, bass), Zack Farwell (drums), Andrew Southard (keyboards, samples) and Bryan Beeson (bass) to reunite and form something completely new. That something new was the band SQUALUS which basically picked up where the great Squid left off. Now seasoned avant-metal musicians, these four guys released their so-far sole album THE GREAT FISH which like the Jaws reference on the album cover art, really does take a bite into your soul and just won’t let go. That is if you dare push play. The album features 11 tracks of avant-metal zaniness that ends the tour at just under 43 minutes which is merciful as this wild ride is chock full of bizarre compositions and artistic creativity.

Like Giant Squid, SQUALUS is primarily based in a sludge metal sound that zigzags all over the place including into the world of post-rock and pseudo-progressive rock. While the album art may seem like a random depiction of something really, really scary, the album is completely thematically based on the blockbuster 1975 film Jaws by Steven Spielberg. This is simultaneously a creepy sounding album as well as a noisy one. Sounding something like a 90s Neurosis mixed with a horror soundtrack release only set to faster tempos. The suffocating din of the riffage is a perfect refuge for vocalist Aaron Gregory to scream from under the din. While the tones and timbres are reminiscent of the great Neurosis, this is much more experimental with all kinds of twists and turns that even drift out of the metal world altogether as heard on “Eating Machine In The Ford” that is a freaky duet with male and female vocals.

Noticeably different from Giant Squid, SQUALUS doesn’t only drop the cello from its roster but it also completely abandoned any sign of guitars with the muddy fuzzed out bass completely taking the place of both. There does seem to be a mystery guest violinist occasionally such as on the closing “He Ate The Light.” The riffs are accompanied by a horror flick style keyboard which takes things into the land of weirdness and beyond. Add a few time signature twists and curve balls when you least expect it and it’s obvious that we have something really dementedly special on our hands. Given the extra duties of the bass, it’s not even apparent at first that there are no guitars to be heard as Gregory excels at taking the lead and finding that perfect in between zone where guitarists and bassists often commingle in the world of underground metal. Likewise Gregory’s vocals are perfectly suited for this murky shark infested musical maelstrom. Chillout moments are covered by a bass-rich style of post-rock that implements soothing piano runs.

So far the only album from this semi-Squid reunion however one split with Shadow Limb with different tracks appeared in 2018. Other than Zack Farwell who plays with another San Francisco band, Grayceon, most of these members of M.I.A. so perhaps a second coming of SQUALUS is in the works. As far as this sole release, THE GREAT FISH is an interesting array of powerful sludgy metal with art rock infused post-rock along with a few progressive twists and turns. Gregory is the star of the show here with not only stellar bass domination of the sludge metal but also provides an interesting vocal range that sounds like the perfect sludge metal singer as well as nailing the slower clean vocal melodramatic moments and narrations. The Jaws theme is well executed as well making this a pretty cool concept album. Best not to compare with the great Giant Squid despite obvious similarities because this band is in a world of its own making.

AEGOS The Current

Single · 2021 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

sludge metal movie reviews

ISIS Clearing The Eye

Movie · 2006 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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

MASTODON The Workhorse Chronicles: The Early Years 2000-2005

Movie · 2006 · Sludge Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kingcrimsonprog
The Workhorse Chronicles is a must have for any fan of the band. Period. The DVD contains a huge documentary, their first four music videos and live performances of just about every song the band had written up until the touring for Leviathan. The documentary is incredibly informative, with details on how the band formed, inter band relationships, the witting process, touring, their personal lives and what inspires them. Footage from their old bands, their earliest shows and backstage is mixed with candid interviews to let you in on just about every aspect of the band you could think of.

The dvd displays just what a down to earth collection of musicians Mastodon are, never acting like rock stars and always feeling honored to be where they are. While the dvd is completely serious and professional, fans of the band will already know what a humorous bunch of guys they are and will revel in the joking, sarcasm, unusual dreams and even an interview conducted in the shower.

Then you get the live performances taken from several sources, One concert while the band was still a Five Piece playing material off of the then upcomming LifesBlood EP which is recorded by the audience so isn’t of high audio/visual quality. Another Concert is from The Leviathan Tour is a sold out club, with higher Audio/visual quality and a career spanning track listing. Then there are several professionally recorded one off performances for television with superb sound and looks, With songs like ‘Workhorse,’ and ‘Mother Puncher,’ played to the highest standard with crystal clear audio. Finally the music videos which are welcome. Overall this dvd is a must have; with a superb documentary, four videos and an astonishing 29 live songs.

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