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

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CROWBAR Broken Glass Album Cover Broken Glass
CROWBAR
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sludge metal Music Reviews

ACID BATH When The Kite String Pops

Album · 1994 · Sludge Metal
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SilentScream213
One of the most eclectic Metal albums of its time, and certainly not something I expected from the Sludge Metal genre. About half the songs are true Sludge Metal, and even those are rife with other influences, namely Stoner and Avant-Garde Metal. Then there’s a bunch of straight Stoner Metal, some Acoustic Rock, Folky stuff… At times it really sounds like if First Utterance was a Metal album.

The music itself is pretty straightforward, it’s just combined in ways that make it less conventional. The lyrics on the other hand, are absolutely nonsensical and bizarre. The overall package is most certainly a decent representation of a mentally ill psycho going through drug addled hallucinations.

At over an hour long, the variety definitely helps differentiate the songs and retain interest. The album does a good job of switching between speedier, aggressive material and slower or gentler songs, keeping the pacing even. Unfortunately, while surprisingly consistent for the variety and length, it doesn’t have many great songs. Most of them are good with a few standouts like “Cassie Eats Cockroaches” and “Scream of the Butterfly,” but there’s nothing here I care to return to in the future.

DRIDGE Curing

Album · 2021 · Sludge Metal
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UMUR
"Curing" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania based doom/sludge/hardcore/noise rock act Dridge. The album was released through World Gone Mad Records in June 2021. Formed in 2011 Dridge´s preceding releases are the 2013 "Gritual" EP and the 2020 "Ruby" EP.

Dridge started out playing death/doom metal on the "Gritual" (2013) EP, but they significantly changed their style and sound on the "Ruby" (2020) EP, which features an experimental noise rock/hardcore/sludge/doom metal style, which is very hard to define. The material on "Curing" continue in the same "hard to define" sound of "Ruby" (2020) (with some additions and alterations, which will be described below). It´s noisy, heavy, dark, angsty, depressive, hypnotic, and almost ritualistic in style. I hear influences from early 80s post-punk artists (especially from Killing Joke), but unlike the material on "Ruby" (2020), Dridge have opted to include more distorted heavy sections again, which means that "Curing" occasionally is a pretty hard-edged, aggressive, and heavy release. The heavy distorted sections often remind me of Fudge Tunnel. Heavy, groove laden, and fuzz toned riffs, which make you want to bang your head and enter the mosh pit.

The vocals vary between angsty singing/speaking type vocals to aggressive shouting hardcore vocals. While the music style on "Ruby" (2020) certainly was intriguing, the addition of distorted and aggressive heavy parts to the atmospheric hypnotic post-punk sections is a wise move, as it makes "Curing" a much more varied release, and ultimately also lifts Dridge to a level where they deserve a lot of attention. So the songwriting is both adventurous, varied, and memorable, and add to that strong musicianship and a raw and powerful sounding production, and "Curing" is upon conclusion a high quality release from Dridge. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR Evil Power

Album · 2010 · Sludge Metal
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UMUR
"Evil Power" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, Chicago based metal act Lair of the Minotaur. The album was released through The Grind-House Records in April 2010. It´s the successor to "War Metal Battle Master" from 2008 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as bassist Donald James Barraca has been replaced by Nate Olp. The remaining part of the lineup are vocalist/guitarist Steven Rathbone and drummer Chris Wozniak.

Lair of the Minotaur have always played a difficult to label extreme metal style. A music style which features traits from thrash metal, sludge metal, doom metal, traditional heavy metal, and even the odd death and black metal influenced moment. So the band´s sound is not easy to describe and that trend continues on "Evil Power" which is another slice of difficult to label hard edged metal. The sound production is loud, raw, and filthy. An organic sound which provide the music with an authentic almost "live in the studio" atmosphere. That´s not surprising if you´re familiar with the preceding studio releases by the band, which also feature some pretty raw production jobs, but the organic rawness of the sound production goes perfectly hand in hand with the savage nature of the material. Lair of the Minotaur are obviously very conscious about the sound production and what it means for the presentation of their material (not surprisingly Sanford Parker and Scott Hull have worked on the recording and mixing of the album).

With songtitles like "Riders of Skullhammer, We Ride the Night", "Let's Kill These Motherfuckers", and "Death March of the Conquerors", you just know these guys mean business, and that´s exactly how they come off. Filthy, raw, and primal heavy metal with the volume turned to maximum. Not all tracks on the album are equally remarkable, but "Evil Power" is overall a good quality release. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

NEUROSIS Through Silver In Blood

Album · 1996 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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UMUR
"Through Silver In Blood" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, California based sludge/Post-metal act Neurosis. The album was released through Relapse Records in April 1996. It´s the successor to "Enemy Of The Sun" from 1993 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as keyboard player Simon McIlroy has been replaced by Noah Landis. "Through Silver In Blood" was recorded in December 1995 with producer Billy Anderson. It was a rather painful labour as some band members had personal issues at the time with drug addiction, homelessness, and depression. "Through Silver In Blood" was preceded by its Tribes of Neurot (Neurosis experimental ambient/noise side-project) companion album "Silver Blood Transmission (1995)".

Stylistically the material on "Through Silver In Blood" builds on the experimental and atmospheric sludge/post-metal of "Enemy Of The Sun" (1993). It´s a harsh, bleak, and heavy album reeking of depression, decay, and frustration. The guitar riffs are slow and doomy, but they are still aggressive and hard-edged in nature, showing that the band have not completely forgotten their hardcore roots (there´s an unhinged "close to feedback" sound to them, which suits the music well). The drumming is almost tribal styled, with drummer Jason Roeder playing rhythmic drum patterns rather than the more usual heavy slow drumming of many doom related releases. The vocals are raw and aggressive shouting alternating between an aggressive mid-range vocal style and a lower end slightly more gruff vocal style (not growling though). Landis builds atmosphere with his keyboards and samples, and the band even use bagpipes and violin/cello on a couple of tracks.

The tracks often build from simple mellow beginnings to loud and raw climaxes, but just as often alternate between the styles, and the material are overall quite adventurous and boundary pushing. Early Swans is definitely an influence (I hear influences from artists like Killing Joke and Melvins here too), but Neurosis are generally a much heavier beast. "Through Silver In Blood" features a heavy, detailed, and well sounding production job, which suits the material perfectly, and upon conclusion it´s a high quality release in its genre. It´s also a groundbreaking release, which has influenced many artists since. The combination of doomy hardcore infused riffs, the aggressive vocals, the tribal drumming, and the bleak atmospheric keyboards and samples, ultimately make for a rather unique listen.

It´s not an easy listen and the slow building repetitive nature of the tracks is probably an aquired taste, but that element is used to support and build the sombre oppressive atmosphere of the album, and it´s a key ingredient of the band´s sound. Personally I think Neurosis take it a bit too far and drag the songs out too much on "Strength of Fates", "Aeon", and on "Enclosure in Flame" (which is basically the last 30 minutes of the album), but again it´s probably an aquired taste if you find those tracks too slow building and uneventful, or if you find them purposedly building dark and brooding atmosphere. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

AEQUOREA DIM

Album · 2022 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Named after the bioluminescent hydrozoan jellyfish, AEQUORIA formed as far back as 2009 in Nevada City, California and hasn’t exactly been the most productive band in the biz with only two releases in its thirteen year run. While a demo emerged in 2010, it took another four years for the first album “Tellurian” to showcase the band’s hybridizing effects of merging atmospheric sludge metal with doom metal and post-rock. The stylistic approach may have been slightly innovative for the time but the band took a hiatus for the next eight years but finally after a long snooze has emerged with its second coming simply titled DIM.

While any album that features an album cover of a stag in the woods may bring Agalloch’s classic album “The Mantle” to mind, the fact is AEQUOREA actually does have its own sound although references to Neurosis, Isis and YOB are readily apparent. This band is a five-piece with the current lineup consisting of Falon Stoval (bass, vocals) Clay Powers (drums, vocals), Phillip Gallagher (guitars), James Brett (guitars, vocals) and Chris Johnson (keyboards, percussion). While Agalloch does have some similarities, AEQUOREA leaves out the black metal references and sticks to the world of sludge metal for its extreme proclivities while mining the world of post-rock for the musical processions and cleaner sounds on board.

DIM is a classic album’s worth of four tracks that is 34 minutes of playing time. While the compositions are clearly in post-metal territory and the vocals, drumming patterns and emotional outbursts reek of sludge, there are also many references to doom metal and thus AEQUOREA has done an excellent job of blending it all together until only a formidable expert can detect which genetic sequences were inherited from which parent genome. Add to that there are touches of grunge with the melodic similarities to Nirvana on the track “Mara of the Hollow Shadow.” The album plays out very nicely with nothing whizzing by overly fast and the transitions between stylistic approaches are tastily executed.


While post-metal can be a lazy sort of metal sub-genre that doesn’t allow musicians to crank out their best wizardry, AEQUOREA on the other hand allows crazy percussive creativity and riffing frenzies that would feel right at home in thrash or death metal at key moments. Despite the overarching theme of sludge metal dominating the soundscape, the tapestries of other metal forces in the mix are nicely performed and the atmospheric touches add icing to the already sweetened bounty of this beautiful dessert. I’m not sure which of the vocalists is the lead but he has a powerful and competent ability to control his guttural expulsions like few others have achieved. This adds subtle nuances that only enhance the atmospheric flow.

I’m quite intrigued by AEQUOREA and this second album DIM as it offers beautiful motifs of sludge driven post and doom metal that eke out all those possibilities between the cracks. Perhaps this band hasn’t quite reached its full potential as DIM seems to lack that extra “something” that puts it leagues ahead of the competition but for a relatively unknown band that has only two albums under its belt, i find the mix of sludgy din sprawled out into post-metal cyclical grooves with heaps of atmospheric splendor laced with just enough melodic mojo to keep from sounding too dissonant the perfect recipe. Perhaps not as inventive as Agalloch or Neurosis but these guys are certainly heading in the right direction.

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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