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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 heavy metal movement takes influences from post-rock. 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 is a largely American phenomenon, but also includes 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


Sub-genre collaborators:
  • Bosh66 (leader)

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NEUROSIS Souls at Zero Album Cover Souls at Zero
4.53 | 13 ratings
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CROWBAR Broken Glass Album Cover Broken Glass
4.79 | 5 ratings
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NEUROSIS Times Of Grace Album Cover Times Of Grace
4.36 | 27 ratings
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ISIS Panopticon Album Cover Panopticon
4.31 | 53 ratings
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NEUROSIS Through Silver In Blood Album Cover Through Silver In Blood
4.27 | 43 ratings
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MASTODON Crack The Skye Album Cover Crack The Skye
4.24 | 90 ratings
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MASTODON Leviathan Album Cover Leviathan
4.23 | 77 ratings
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ISIS Oceanic Album Cover Oceanic
4.24 | 41 ratings
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INTRONAUT Prehistoricisms Album Cover Prehistoricisms
4.30 | 14 ratings
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CULT OF LUNA Vertikal Album Cover Vertikal
4.21 | 14 ratings
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MELVINS Houdini Album Cover Houdini
4.19 | 15 ratings
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THE OCEAN Precambrian Album Cover Precambrian
4.17 | 17 ratings
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sludge metal Music Reviews

EYEHATEGOD In The Name Of Suffering

Album · 1992 · Sludge Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Sludge metal is one of those shapeshifting sub-genres that has been quite prolific in frolicking with everything from grindcore (Soilent Green) and crust punk (Dystopia) to stoner metal (Melvins, Bongzilla) and progressive rock (Mastodon, Intronaut) however in the beginning the fledgling metal style actually resembled the doom metal template from which it was derived. EYEHATEGOD was one of the forerunners of the scene which incorporated the doomy guitar riffs of classic Black Sabbath, the more updated doom diversity of Saint Vitus, the indie extreme motifs of Celtic Frost and the healthy punk infused errant attitude of hardcore bands like Discharge, Black Flag and other crust punk. The Melvins who proved to be a middle ground between the doom and sludge worlds also provided plenty of inspiration.

EYEHATEGOD emerged out of New Orleans, Louisiana on April 20, 1988 (420 man!) by guitarist Jimmy Bower and vocalist Mike Williams and soon recruited drummer Joey LaCaze. All three would remain permanent members until the band’s most recent album released in 2014. After a few lineup changes and the recruitment of Steve Dale on bass and Mark Schulz as second guitarist, EYEHATEGOD recorded their debut album IN THE NAME OF SUFFERING after the two demos “Dwarf Woman Driver” and “Lack Of Almost Everything.” Although these guys didn’t really take their style too seriously as it was merely a reaction to the musical scene of the era (think glam metal ruling the world) it nevertheless caught the attention of the small French label Intellectual Convulsion which released no more than 2000 LPs and CDs and soon went bankrupt. After signing to Century Media, this debut album found a second life and was re-released in 1992 with different artwork.

As with all cases of metal history, sludge metal took various elements of established bands and made them more extreme. EYEHATEGOD excelled at cranking out the plodding down-tuned guitar riffs that alternate with hardcore punk fueled quickened outbursts but most of all IN THE NAME OF SUFFERING debuts a healthy dose of feedback fuzz that would be taken even further with drone metal bands like Boris. This album is dripping in heavy psych laced distortion with every riff reverberating to high heaven accompanied by crazy squealing pitches that would make Jimi Hendrix have an orgasm. While doom metal plods along, this new sludge break away republic alternates between doom, hardcore and crust punk and even some death metal moments. Plodding riffs can spontaneously burst into freeform quickened frenzies and the squealing feedback outbursts can sound like a nest of horny birds on acid chirping to the gods for an infinite feast of juicy worms.

The best thing about IN THE NAME OF SUFFERING is that it sounds like that raw and unpolished underground metal that all the filth worshippers crave. While the Sabbath riffs are quite apparent, the overall compositions are quite varied in how they meander through different tempos, riff changes and of course there’s those feedback squeals! With an emphasis on cannabis culture, it’s not wonder a whole new strain of stoner metal evolved from this early sludge template as it totally sounds like it could take the next step into Sleep or Electric Wizard territory. While sludge metal has gotten increasingly sophisticated over the years with atmospheric progressive bands like Intronaut and The Ocean totally upgrading the sub, these early years of unadulterated sludgery are quite satisfying and no album quite hits the spot like EYEHATEGOD’s bass heavy sludge-fest IN THE NAME OF SUFFERING with angry screamed vocals struggling to be heard over the overweening guitar distortion and sparse drumming style that would become synonymous with this style of metal.

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.

MASTODON Blood Mountain

Album · 2006 · Sludge Metal
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The Crow
The third Mastodon's full-length effort was their definitive entry into prog!

The outstanding Leviathan had some prog elements, with intricate passages and some long instrumental sections, but it's really far from the complexity of Blood Mountain, where the guys show all their instrumental skills, and the great amount of imagination they have to compose songs. Nevertheless, I think they did not achieve the level of Leviathan.

The style of this album was still a curious mixture between thrash metal, stoner and prog, like the previous one, but Blood Mountain increased the level of prog and psychedelic elements, making the songs more intricate and variated, and even more personal and unique. The problem is that they were not so catchy as the Leviathan killer tracks. The experimentation of this album was commendable, but I think the band did not achieve a real good balance between the immediate killer power of Leviathan and the new attempt to reach a proggier level.

Specially the second half of the album is a bit dull to hear, because some songs like the silly Bladecatcher, the insipid Hunters of the Sky and the not really interesting Hand of Stone, which are under the usual level of the band.

Best Tracks: the first five tracks are splendid and I like Colony of Birchmen and Siberian Divide very much. The rest of the album is not at the same level.

Conclusion: I think that Blood Mountain was some kind of transition album. It had not the power and the catchy style of Leviathan, because the band tried new musical ways in the prog way, but not finding the right balance.

The album has great songs, but some musical ideas didn't work so well, specially in the second half of the album, and the general level is under Leviathan.

My rating: ***

MASTODON Leviathan

Album · 2004 · Sludge Metal
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The Crow
Second full-length Mastodon's album and here is where they really showed all their potential, and this original way to understand metal!

The style of the band very well represented in Leviathan. They make thrash metal with a lot of death metal influences, and a very original approaching to stoner rock too, giving constant surprises with groovy and catchy riffs. Like at the end of Seabeast! Being a fan of stoner (I specially love Spiritual Beggars and similar acts), I find this side of Mastodon very attractive.

However, they use not usual rhythms and structures. The songs are surprising, and the tempo is always changing. Not only in the epic Hearts Alive (a 100% progressive metal track) but also in the funny Megalodon, where a country melody is followed by a very fast speed metal section. The complex Aqua Dementia, the intricate verses on Island. This album is a real pleasure for tech metal fans.

The sound of the guitars is a bit odd, but it is great for the music and the concept of the album. They have sometimes a sailor mood, like on the beginning of Megalodon. Is incredible how this band, with these compact and hard compositions, are able to give every song a new texture, making a coherent progression of the history through the album. I also like their acoustics. In Joseph Merrick they made another bizarre song, with this dirty guitars and tired keyboards... However, it is just brilliant!

Brann Dailor, the drummer, also deserves a special mention here. He is just one of the better drummers in metal today. His incredibly fast drumming and his surprising rhythms make the sensation of that you are hearing a jam session by a genius... Every time I listen this album, I discover new things in the work of this man in Leviathan. His sound is a bit ugly, and a bit too high. However, for the speed of his drumming, maybe it is not possible to get a better sound, because the drumsticks of this guy must run at the speed of light!

Best Tracks: Blood and Thunder (obscure, epic and catchy opening...), Seabeast (the final riff is my favorite of the album), Iron Tusk (just love the whole song), Megalodon (it's crazy, and it is wonderful) and of course Hearts Alive (the longer track is of course very progressive, epic and it shows the whole band's potential)

Conclusion: Mastodon is one of the most surprising metal acts appeared in the last years. They have achieved a very original sound, mixing a lot of genres and influences, but mixing them so brilliantly that you will not notice it. They are powerful, refreshing and unique. And Leviathan is their best album to date, surpassing the very good but a bit flawed Blood Mountain.

Very recommended band and album!

My rating: ****

P.S.: this review was originally written for and rewritten to be included here.

MASTODON Remission

Album · 2002 · Sludge Metal
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The Crow
Debut full length of the Atlanta's kings of trash-death-technical-prog-metal!!!

This album contains the typical hoarse vocals of Troy Sanders and his saturated bass playing, great and technical guitar playing by Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher, and the well-known amazing drumming by Brann Dailor and tons of heavy and progressive tracks.

Sadly, the songwriting is not so compelling like in the similar but much better Leviathan or the proggier Crack the Skye, making this record a bit dull in the long term despite some tracks where the band tries to make something differing like the sludge-prog Trilobite and the much more melodic and very interesting Elephant Man.

Best Tracks: March of the Fire Ants (typical Mastodon power), Where Strides the Behemoth (great riffs and a classic in live concerts), Trilobite (one of the most progressive tracks of the album with excellent guitars on it) and Elephant Man (melancholic and meditative guitar work, which shows the band's versatility which would make them great in the future)

Conclusion: this first album of Mastodon is much in the vein of the later Leviathan, but with a songwriting which is not so refined yet and some repetitive ideas which makes the hearing of the album a bit boring in the long term.

So, although Remission is a good tech-metal album with some killer tracks and passages on it, if you are new to Mastodon, I would recommend you to start with one of their later albums!

My rating: ***

sludge metal movie reviews

ISIS Clearing The Eye

Movie · 2006 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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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
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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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