Finland’s Demonic Death Judge is one of those bands that attracted me on name alone. Their debut LP The Descent was the first one that I heard and it made me an instant kneeler at their altar of godless, unholy sludge. The Judge’s sound is steeped in filthy bayou blues with the dirty, metallic shavings of Ohio sleaze doom in their eyes. It’s a classic example of the sound that brings to mind Eyehategod, Fistula, Cavity, Fleshpress, Semtex, Iron Monkey, Moho, Weedeater…you know the best of the best that play this sickening, screaming piss spraying shit. Music of this nature doesn’t need a poetic review and the band’s 3rd record Seaweed is the perfect collision of dirge and octane.
Opener “Taxbear” explodes with a bluesy, downward riff plunge soon turning into an upbeat chalice of malice. Lauri Pikka’s jackhammering drums go from a morphine drip to a slamming, festering wall of tom rushes and punchy little fills that trigger spare, murderous 4/4 grooves that are a bit more agile than the competition. Jaakko Heinonen’s battery acid drenched screams are nascent nastiness in the vein of “Dixie” Dave Collins’ scumbag whiskey drawl and Corey Bing’s serial killer sickness. Samples are laced into the mix like PCP but tastefully done without retreading the work of bands’ that used ‘em best as Toni Raukola compliments them with rising walls of tuneful feedback instead of direct soloing all the while Eetu Lehtinen’s low-end strangulation piles on the fuzz.
This is the fuckin’ good stuff; well-bottled, aged just right and preserved in charred oak barrels. The lead-in riff to “Heavy Chase” coulda been culled straight-off of Sofa King Killer’s Midnight Magic. It’s a hypnotic and harrowing tune replicating a heroic dose of shrooms, steeped in bluesy influences akin to Sir Lord Baltimore, Mountain and Black Sabbath played as goddamn loud as inhumanly possible. Tangible leads storms across a sea of phase, reverb and wah with the riff at 3:13 taking things to an entirely higher plane of psychedelic existence. Production-wise, man, this is some unstoppable shit with warm, cracking drums (especially the snares), an awesome split of filth/sheen on the guitars (the playing is full of soulful leads and solos on this particular track), psychotic slightly distorted vocals and the bass threading it all together. Other bands of this ilk coming up in the world should take note of both the playing and the production here.
The title track takes a nautical turn with swirly FX mimicking ocean waves and seagulls, but I don’t think there are any samples used. Folky acoustic guitars, plunging bass-y depth-charges and highly melodic lead licks really bring the vibe of some old school, warped psychedelic shit. Soon a riff of the highest caliber challenges all comers past and present to the throne. Seriously speaking, the level of madness here makes this country-born misanthrope want to walk the suburban streets taking a baseball bat to everything in sight. Don’t worry authorities…I won’t take it out on the public; I’ll just trash my own body listening to this stuff. Sweat n’ swagger don’t even begin to describe the hulking blues riffs and wraparound lead guitar flurries in this motherfucker. Things sink into some sucking quicksand down-tempo at times but this shit blurs the line by being upbeat yet as angry as it fuckin’ gets. A smashing snare fill gives way to an absolutely vintage lick at 3:18 that’s a lethal dose of insane asylum blues. Instrumental “Cavity” is probably a nod to the legendary Floridian sludge dealers themselves even if it takes a different trip than expected. Cleaner guitar lines aerate the thickness yielding respite whilst digging into a slow-build up reminiscent of 5ive or Neurosis. They take their good ol’ time rising into a bluesy throb where the powerhouse bass-lines lead the riff assault into battle with a thundering godhammer of detuned doom…the guitars bouncing and reflection off of the low-end before assuming a fight till death riff-stance on their own.
“Backwoods” is the musical equivalent to a night spent in the stocks with a whip striking your back raw. Cowbell enters the mix amongst a tidal wave of endlessly neurotic snare splashes, Deliverance-style sludge riffing straight from the boonies and heart-attack scream vocals. Dynamics are always present when The Judge lowers the gavel with a killer, psychedelic midsection splicing in some plucky work on the banjo. Musically, this shit is more addled with the trippy stuff than perhaps my own body…the pay-off climaxing in a fireball axe solo and its immediate fall from grace into wasteland riffage. Damn, I’d give both nuts to see these psychos live. Heavy on the pedal board, rumbling in its rhythms and immaculately layered in terms of mind-fuck, hallucinatory guitar lines “Pure Cold” is another cut that further enforces just how deep this band dives into their sound. Eventually, the dam overflows and drowns all nearby villages in vile, stalker sludge so thick n’ soupy that no living thing could breathe in its excesses and survive. “Saturnday” balances spaghetti-western soundtrack twang with cosmic vastness and vicious, throat-shredding sludge shrapnel that could have tipped the sides in any of the big wars, leaving closer “Peninkulma” to bring back late 60s/early 70s psyche-madness in a lengthy explosion, saving its heaviest riffs for last.
Seaweed is fuckin’ massive. Demonic Death Judge has delivered one of the great sludge albums in my opinion that can stand toe-to-toe with the standard setters. There’s not a bum riff, bad tune or wasted note and the thing is so fucking loud my puny computer speakers could barely handle it. Headphones are a must or some real artillery if you’re going open air, but no matter how you slice it this band has arrived at an apex in their career.[Visit the band's website]