I EXIST — II: The Broken Passage (review)

I EXIST — II: The Broken Passage album cover Album · 2011 · Sludge Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Time Signature
Immortal metal...

Genre: sludge-thrash-crust metal

Who says sludge metal has to be slow and lumbering? True, the inspiration from Black Sabbath and Southern rock via acts like The Melvins and Neurosis has cemented slow tempos and heavy, droning riffs as a genre-typical feature of sludge metal. However, we must remember that another source of inspiration to sludge metal artists came from crust punk and hardcore punk, and the Australian sludge metal act I Exist definitely remind us of this ancestor of sludge metal on their second album II: The Broken Passage.

While the base sound is the sloppy and muddy sound of sludge metal, I Exist often play at breakneck speed on this album, drawing extensively on the aggression of crust and hardcore punk, with several riffs having an almost thrashy nature. In fact, there is so much thrashy aggression on this album that one is inclined to categorizing it as a sort of crossover-release that combines thrash, sludge and hardcore. The Australians definitely show us that the sludge metal sound goes very well together with aggression and speed, and that sludge metal does not per se have to be slow, stoned and lumbering. That being said, there are slow and Southern rock-oriented tracks and passages on the album, too just check 'Black Unicorn', 'Lungs of Mire', 'Mammoth Falls' and 'Winters End'), and these stand in an interesting contrast to the uptempo and aggressive parts.

The production is, as mentioned above, a tad sloppy, but that is not a problem in the context of sludge metal (I guess it is actually a positive attribute). And the harsh vocals, which at times remind me of Chaos A.D. and Roots-era Max Cavalera suit the overall sound extremely well (although I must say that I think that this type of singing, or yelling, goes better with the crusty tracks than with the more doomy and stoned up ones).

Fans of the genre-typical sludge metal sound, who are also interested in uptempo metal and crust punk, hardcore punk and crossover thrash should definitely check out II: The Broken Passage, which brilliantly encapsulates both fiery aggression and swampy and stoned psychedelia.

(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)
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