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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atmospheric sludge metal top albums

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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
4.52 | 16 ratings
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NEUROSIS Times Of Grace Album Cover Times Of Grace
NEUROSIS
4.36 | 31 ratings
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ISIS Panopticon Album Cover Panopticon
ISIS
4.31 | 58 ratings
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NEUROSIS Through Silver In Blood Album Cover Through Silver In Blood
NEUROSIS
4.29 | 47 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
4.20 | 47 ratings
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CULT OF LUNA Vertikal Album Cover Vertikal
CULT OF LUNA
4.21 | 17 ratings
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THE OCEAN Pelagial Album Cover Pelagial
THE OCEAN
4.28 | 9 ratings
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NEUROSIS A Sun That Never Sets Album Cover A Sun That Never Sets
NEUROSIS
4.16 | 17 ratings
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THE OCEAN Anthropocentric Album Cover Anthropocentric
THE OCEAN
4.11 | 25 ratings
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ISIS Wavering Radiant Album Cover Wavering Radiant
ISIS
4.07 | 43 ratings
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atmospheric sludge metal Music Reviews

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.

PELICAN Nighttime Stories

Album · 2019 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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The Angry Scotsman
6 years since their last release, Pelican shows they are still a force to be reckoned with.

This album continues their drift from post metal to, well not quite sure what to call it. Instrumental progressive sludge metal? Perhaps atmospheric metal is the most fitting genre to lump it under. What I call it is: awesome.

"Nighttime Stories" is in some ways classic Pelican, (super heavy, killer riffs, grooves, and melodies, quiet peaceful movements) but in some ways quite different. For one, I was quite shocked to here blast beats. In general, "Nighttime Stories" is less "post" and more riff oriented metal. Don't get me wrong, Pelican has always been based on the almighty riff, but here their songs continue their shorter trajectory, all except one clocking in at under 7 minutes, and there's less collective wall of sound, long building sound and more traditional riffy driven metal songs.

This is not unwelcome. It keeps the band fresh, and given the countless number of post metal bands that have faded away with the tide of that genre, I'm glad to see some of the founders of it managing to fight past and stay relevant. This is not to say there isn't still wonderful atmospheres created, because their are, as well as some of the classic slowly progressing old school sound.

The music on "Nighttime Stories" is not as compelling or thought provoking as older Pelican, it's not quite as energetic as some newer, and I found the drumming a bit lackluster, but the music is still interesting enough to hold up without any vocals. The major driver of this album is its biggest difference from previous output: emotion. This is a very emotional work. Not surprising giving the band's various difficulties and changes, and it really comes out. It can't be put into words, but you feel it.

FOUR STARS

THE OCEAN Aeolian

Album · 2005 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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UMUR
"Aeolian" is the 2nd full-length studio album by German sludge/post metal/hardcore act The Ocean (sometimes referred to as The Ocean Collective). The album was released through Metal Blade Records in November 2005. "Aeolian" is the second part of a two album project that started with "Fluxion (2004)". As far as I understand the tracks for the two albums were written and recorded during the same sessions, but the band (or the label?) decided to release the most atmospheric and orchestral material on "Fluxion" and the more aggressive and direct material on "Aeolian".

...it´s definitely an interesting approach and to my ears "Fluxion" started the project pretty successfully. "Aeolian" is definitely the harder edged ugly monster sibling. The level of aggression and the amount of chugging riffs are much higher on "Aeolian" than the case was on "Fluxion", and "Aeolian" is not at all as atmospheric or as sophisticated as "Fluxion" either (although not completely devoid of atmospheric moments). We´re still dealing with fairly technical playing and complex compositions, but the emphasis is on aggression and heavy riffing. The vocals are predominantly raw and shouting type sludge/hardcore vocals. There are as many as 6 different vocalists who contribute to the album, so the vocal style also changes from deep semi-growling, to harsh hardcore screaming, to aggressive barking.

While all material on the 10 track, 55:32 minutes long album is well written and performed, there is a slight identity crisis heard throughout the album, and it´s like The Ocean can´t decide if they want to play metal or hardcore (there are several predominantly hardcore oriented tracks on the album). There´s even a wiff of metalcore/melodic death metal featured at one point, so it´s not a stylistically consistent release. Wether that´s a weakness or a strength is up for discussion, but personally I found the band´s adventurous approach to musical styles relatively intriguing, albeit not always equally successful. Highlights include "The City in the Sea" and "Inertia", which are the two tracks that bookends the album. Especially the latter is a great track, but all material on the album is of a good quality.

"Aeolian" features a well sounding and powerful production, which suits the material well and the musicianship is on a high level on all posts. So upon conclusion "Aeolian" is through and through a high quality release. Compared to it´s sister release "Fluxion", "Aeolian" is slightly less interesting though, but a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is still deserved.

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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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