Choking Hazard has an ambitious project planned with this Stranglers series of compilations, which is apparently going to consist of three different double-disc compilations that will showcase a big chunk of material from a wide variety of bands from the sludge/doom underground. Their first entry in the series is loaded with extreme slow-mo heaviness, featuring two discs that are packed with music from an array of bands that include both known names and newer, lesser-known outfits; it's a solid collection that'll satisfy any doomhound looking for a serious fix of ugly, slow-motion heaviness, and I'm definitely looking forward to future volumes.
The Stranglers: Chapter One has just under two and a half hours of music, so there's a lot to hear. All of the bands on the first disc are familiar names; we've carried releases from all of them here at Crucial Blast at one time or another. The disc opens up with probably the best known of all of the featured bands, the UK doomlords Atavist, who offer up an untitled (it's listed only by it's track length, "20:11") song that had previously appeared on their self-titled album from 2005 on Invada. This monolithic doom epic starts off with pretty jangly guitar and sparse, spacious ambience that stretches onward for around five minutes, until a creepy vocal sample appears (taken from the excellent psychological horror film Session 9), and suddenly the band erupts into monstrous molten sludge, slow pounding metallic crush, while that pretty un-distorted melodic guitar continues to play in the background, obscured by the massive slow mo riffage and heavy drumming and deep deep guttural grunts, a sorta slow core deathdoom jam, like Corrupted crossed with Codeine, epic and immense.
British Eyehategod disciples Moloch are next, and their entire 2007 demo is included here, three songs in sixteen minutes, a brutal wave of noxious crusty hatesludge in the vein of Iron Monkey, Cavity and Eyehategod, the singer's ripped trachea spewing vile snarling screams across long stretched-out clots of putrid sludge blooze and musty New 'Awlins swamp groove.
That's followed by The Austrasian Goat, who also contribute three songs, which I believe are exclusive to this compilation. these tracks are similar to the other records that I've picked up from this one-man band, super slow motion blackened ultradoom, but way more miserable and funereal sounding than ever. The first track almost sounds like Skepticism, or Morgion or Thergothon, glacial slow, super heavy, with majestic slow-motion guitar misery flowing over distant echoing drums and stretched out blackened shrieks, huge gusts of droning feedback, all quite beautiful and sorrowful, The second track is even more melodic, a gothic slowcore creep with folky acoustic strum rising out of the black pit, the roiling waves of blackened funeral doom peeling back to reveal a gorgeous Katatonia like dirge later in the song. Finally, the third track appears, darker and more dismal than the previous, discarding the melodic elements for a cavernous deathdoom sound, creeping hellish riffing oozing beneath a pitch-black night sky streaked with ominous effects and gasping, distorted black metal shrieks. Awesome!
The last band on the first disc is The Whorehouse Massacre, and we get three tracks from their 2007 self-titled demo. I previously heard this one-man band on the IV - The Death Tree LP on Streaks Records, and this stuff is in the same vein, a brand of thoroughly fucked-up basement doom, and not surprisingly, the Whorehouse Massacre tracks are the most warped songs on this disc. The first track is a mixture of primitive drum machines, bedroom death metal, and mangled deathdoom riffs woven into stuttering loops, with the sparse vocals filtered through a ridiculous amount of distortion and effects and manic chopped-up editing. It's a really weird, low-fi hypno-deathsludge workout. The second song is a little bit less whacked-out, a pounding slow mo atavistic death metal dirge made up of a simple chugging detuned riff and even simpler, almost industrial drums that repeat over and over, those hissing, white-noise soaked vocals sneering over top, heavy and plodding and ultra-repetitive, almost like an early death metal band trying to cover a Swans song. The last Whorehouse Massacre song is another slab of lumbering primitive deathsludge, but things quickly get weird as glimmering psychedelic guitars begin to unwind across the heavy riff, spacey effects and a soaring melody begins to glide over the pounding deathdirge, with more bizarre distorted production overload kicking in at as it goes along, with almost sing-song distorted vocals showing up, and some muted Deathspell-ish dissonant guitar chords, turning this into an odd, blackened, martial-sounding industrial sludge march.
Switching over to the second disc, we're greeted by a New England-based band called Stasis, who delivers three songs from their 2006 We Are Falling Upwards demo. It's more than twenty-two minutes of vicious blackened sludgecore, the vocals are totally over the top, snarling bestial shrieks and gargling snarling vokills that remind me of Cavity, lots of twisted Sabbathy riffage and creepy creaking guitar noise, trippy flanger effects and harmonics floating around. The song "Expression Of Sin" breaks off into some deep emotive Dax Riggs-style crooning and acoustic guitar, and the whole song is reminiscent of Acid Bath, where at other times Stasis sounda bit like a crustier, more hardcore-tinged Crowbar with their diseased guitar harmonies. Good stuff!
Next is another one-man band called Feast Of Sins that has a guy named Roj handling guitar, bass, drum programming, vocals and samples. This seems to be the first ever appearance from this British band, and there's no shortage of heaviness...the sound is pretty simple and straightforward, ultra-slow, crushing down tuned doom with stretches of cavernous ambience that open up in the fissures that appear between the megalithic riffs, with simple plodding drum machine rhythms and hoarse desperate shrieking vocals. It's a pretty punishing blast of glacial industrial deathdoom.
Italian sludge metallers Ghost Empire follow with two tracks of tortured molasses crush that also seems to take cues from the New Orleans underground, playing gnarly swamp doom in the vein of Cavity, Eyehategod and Acid Bath tinged with faint traces of black metal and psychdrone. There are two different vocal styles working in tandem here, one a fierce strained scream and the other a soulful croon, and the two distinct voices come together on the choruses for an odd displaced effect.
The final band on disc two is also probably my favorite. The oddly named Los Angeles trio Welter In Thy Blood appears with a single fifteen minute song called "Despondent Unto Death", and it's probably the most "out" offering on the comp. These guys play a sort of blackened funeral doom that is incredibly slow and spacious, huge dissonant chords dropping like waves of black energy, vocals soaked in reverb and delay and floating like gusts of putrid corpse air rising out of a disinterred gravesite, minimal barely-there drums, long stretched-out rumbling drones, creepy spoken word recitations. Think Nortt, Khanate, Amort, that sort of bleak spacious blackened doom, but combined with a gnarly primitive heaviness akin to hearing Hellhammer slowed down to quarter speed. This is a killer dose of dismal crypt-doom, and I'm dying to hear more from these guys.
This comp is a real feast for fans of extreme doom metal and sludge, especially if you are unfamiliar with most of the bands. The discs come in full color packaging that includes a thick booklet loaded with artist info, lyrics and artwork.