The metal world is a weird place, where people seem obsessed by (or at least devoted to) the adherence to genre tropes, so that the goal of some metal bands appears to be “how close can we get to perfectly encapsulating the sound of our sub subgenre?” I’m not sure anyone says that aloud, or even consciously thinks it, but it sure seems like that to some of us listeners, who listen to other forms of music which are more diverse, and then encounter a record which is 45 minutes or so of the exact same thing over and over again.
So, at least on an intellectual level, I always appreciate it when a metal band breaks this trope and tries to do something different. Because I don’t listen to anywhere near a plurality of the metal that has been made since the 1980s (or so), I always have to rely on critics and reviews to tell me if something is indeed breaking away from the mold. I have been told that this record is one of those records, combining a bunch of different things that hadn’t been (much?) combined before, into something (seemingly) new.
Even without critics or reviews, you can hear that this isn’t your average ’90s metal album. There is a blues base to it that is basically absent from every other ’90s metal album I’ve ever heard. (Though this version of the blues is the early British metal version of the blues taken to new extremes – no swing here to speak of.) And the combination of grindcore with sludge is certainly I’ve never ever heard before. (And there are a couple of softer interludes that would be completely out of place on just about any grindcore album I’ve ever heard, if not on every sludge metal album I’ve ever heard. Also, is there a touch of groove metal here too?) And the fact that the singer can pull off these contrasting vocals is some kind of major accomplishment – most metal vocalists I have heard can do one of these things well. On an intellectual level, if feels like some kind of accomplishment.
But this is also a fusion of niche genres into something even more niche. As some other reviews on RYM mention, if you like sludge, you’re likely put off by the grindcore and if you like grindcore you’re likely put off by everything else on the record. Suffice it to say, this record is for a very, very specific type of person. I am not sure I am that person.
It’s annoying, because I get what they are doing and, as an intellectual exercise, I respect it and think I like it. But the album doesn’t move me when I actually listen to it – save for a few moments here and there – and the whole thing blends together. And whatever visceral thrill some have described from listening to it – well I just didn’t feel it. Yes, it’s really heavy, but there are so many really heavy metal records out there. This one just doesn’t make me feel like some of those do. Maybe I need to give it more time.