MAEGASHIRA / SOWBELLY / OSSM  split  CD   (Shifty)   9.98

Gary over at Shifty Records is all about turning us on to new sludge and doom bands. He's released a couple of the better sludge compilations you'll ever hear with the two-part Crushers Killers Destroyers series, and I'm always discovering new purveyors of slow n' low heaviosity with the split 7"s and split albums that he puts out through his label. This brand new full length disc from Shifty features three bands, a tryptich of swampmetal from Maegashira, Sowbelly, and Ossm, all of whom pay homage to the junkie doom and New Orleans sludgecore sound pioneered by Eyehategod. Any one of these bands would have done a fine job of covering EHG on that tribute album that Emetic put out, I'm sure. While none of them make any drastic changes with the sludge metal template, each band puts their own twist on the sound, and fans of this kind of Deep South sickness should find all of 'em satisfyingly crushing.

Maegashira are the only band on here that I had heard of before. We received a demo from them a while back that was pretty rad, and the three songs that open this disc are pretty much in the same vein. Massive bloozy Eyehategod style sludge mixed with creeping old school doom a la Saint Vitus and some interesting blues/country influences, and brutal vocals that are a lot more varied than the norm. The singer is able to drop a monstrous death metal roar or a drunken southern rock bellow at the drop of a hat, but mostly he whips out these abrasive, freaked out screeches that are pretty fearsome. I really dig it when these guys break out the slide guitars on "Thanks, I'm Fine".

Oops. Sowbelly actually were on that Eyehategod tribute album. My bad. The three songs that this Michigan band contribute are filthy and droning, very much in the vein of Weedeater, Buzzoven, Eyehategod, that sort of drug-blasted, antisocial crustiness, with sleazy samples and huge Sabbathoid riffs that leak bad attitude and alienation all over the place. And when these guys put together a riff that they think is especially crushing, these mutants will ride the fucking thing endlessly, turning their snarling sludgecore into a hypnotic riff-mantra that goes on and on, beating your grey matter into mush while the singer vomits all over their amps. Good stuff.

What's an Ossm? According to the band, it means "Kentucky Fried Hydro Sludge". It seems odd that we don't hear more sludge bands from Kentucky, but they are a rare thing indeed. Ossm's song titles are kind of retarded - the first one is called "The Beer Halloween", which is followed by "Where's The Groove" - but I like the fact that these guys don't give a fuck about fidelity and opted to go for an utterly noxious low-fi recording that is perfect for their grease-stained brand of mongoloid sludgecore. I'm also a fan of how the singer sounds like Dixie Dave from Weedeater choking on a piece of chicken gristle. Utterly fucked up low-fi skumdoom that's equal portions Buzzoven, Cavity, Burning Witch, and old Sloth.

Killer artwork rounds out this taster of some new blood from the American metal underbelly. Hardcore sludge and doom fanatics, and worshippers of Toadliquor, Sleep, Grief, Weedeater, Eyehategod, Warhorse, Electric Wizard and Bongzilla should all investigate.