So here's my bonus review for the week. Actually it's a double review, and it's about two bands that I discovered at different points in my life, and who became favorites of mine. They also both released albums recently, so I thought I'd review them together. Neither of these bands need me to write this, and honestly any band that I review on here doesn't either. I just do it because I love heavy music, and I think there are some that go under the radar and i'd like to not only listen to those bands, but also talk about how much I liked their shit. So this review is really for me, and I guess if you like these two bands, this review is for you too.
I remember reading about Iron Monkey and sludge in general in Metal Maniacs when I was an early teen. I wasn't sure exactly what sludge was, but once Crowbar had been name dropped in some articles, I got the gist. Slow, low, and played kinda loose, like the music was actually trying to mimic the movement of sludge rolling downhill. I saw advertisements for the S/T release, but I didn't hear it until a little later on. I was kinda pissed I had no heard them earlier. It's definitely a classic, and I've returned to it many times. They were like the result if Electric Wizard and Eyehategod formed a super group. They were that much of a Goliath. Piercing harsh vocals, a thick low end, and a Sabbathian Stoner Groove, that not only were trademarks of the Stoner Sludge Doom sound, but have been copied, borrowed, and stolen mercilessly since. Then after their release "Our Problem" they didn't put out anything else and that's because their original singer Johnny Morrow died. However, 20 years later released not that far off from the S/T album's original release, the band puts out "9-13". Considering how much of a classic the S/T album is, it would be hard to top that. While I can confirm that my feelings are pretty strong for their their first album, I feel like I can enjoy "9-13" in its own right without being over zealous about the first two releases. It sounded exactly how I wanted it to sound. Pure sludgecore bliss. The riffs are simple, catchy, and have this loosely swung swagger to them. They definitely kept a lot of the elements that made them great. Is this how they would've sounded if they just kept going in the first place? Who knows! I just know I'm really glad they finally did. It's fucking heavy and it crushes.
I'm guessing like most people I discovered Unsane when MTV put "Scrape" on heavy rotation. it wasn't quite metal, but it was definitely more abrasive and had more attitude than the Alternative Rock and Grunge that they were regularly showcasing. As a result I was hooked, and it also served as a gateway to Amphetamine Reptile; a label with a roster of bands who shared a similar sound. I of course have followed the band as they have jumped label to label including two of my favorites Relapse and Ipecac, and now they find themselves on Southern Lord with "Sterilize". Upon first glance of the album art, it looks as if the band has not lost its touch one bit, including their signature use of blood you can find as a constant theme throughout their entire body of work. Once I listened to it, I discovered this is probably some of their best work in a long time. It's heavier than most, it's just as abrasive as ever, and it's even got some of the sludgiest songs I've heard from them. It has all of their trademarks as well. Their jagged waltzing rhythms, the screaming, those stabbing leads, and that fucking bass sound. The band hasn't changed one bit. It's been five years since "Wreck" out, and it was even another five years before there was a release before that. I'm hoping that it won't be another five before we hear anything else from them, but in the meantime if I do have to wait, this album will tide me over for sure. It fucking rules! Cheers! -Samir