The Asound
Impalement Arts

North Carolina heavyweights The Asound have been cutting a swath through the underground building a growing following with their tree-topping musical might, a string of consistently kick ass releases and plenty of action on the live-front.  Some of these crud riffers with shifty songwriting ideals are heathens that have served in cult institutions Seven Foot Spleen, Hanging Rotten, Stone of Abel, Patheticism and many more mythical sludge/doom/crust legends.  The past is the past though and The Asound for me is the apex of these individuals’ musical works to date.  Impalement Arts is the band’s second LP and first for the sound as a pound label Rusty Knuckles; topping off the now quartet’s kick ass back catalog of splits, EPs and compilation work that span CDs, vinyl and cassette tapes (their S/T cassette EP being my favorite release to date).  You can hear the hunger all across the 12 tracks all told here, in fact the guys sound so hungry that a few studio personnel could have been cannibalized during the recording process.  I’m not sure if the credits are a list of helpers or a list of victims.

First thing to note, the band has evolved from the power trio format to a quartet by adding Dave on guitar.  As thick as Chad Wyrick had the guitars by himself alongside the potent rhythm section of Jon (bass) and Mike (drums), The Asound are fatter than an out of shape yeti on Impalement Arts.  Loaded on lard, “Wolves will Feed” melts buttery, uptempo wah-doom riffs into psychedelic splatters of phase-y lead melody as the power chords climb Everest with a pretty maiden in hand.  I’ve said this for years and I’ll say it again but Mike is one of the best drummers for this type of music; inflicting stern backbeats at all times while working in manic snare fills and avalanches of tom-rolling whenever there’s a possibility.  He keeps it busy without overtaking the magic sonic wizardry of his mates.  Jon’s bass piles on the grit and gut as the guitar riffs get meatier by the minute and rocket to the sky in a shuttle full of pot whenever a ripping solo takes the stage for propulsion purposes.  Wyrick’s voice is informed by fellas like Pike, Lemmy and Wino, servicing the sound a tough, bellowing human element that perfectly matches the organic overdrive of the instruments.  Of all the tracks, “Dead Rat Cinders” is one of my favorites as it claws its way forward on broken paws but still manages to tear your neck out of your ass with downward swooping buzzard riffs, craggy landslides of percussion and mutant mid-tempo carnage that’s more exciting than watching a snuff film on a Valentine’s Day date.  Sweltering leads burn hotter than the Sahara at noon and every instrument is locked onto the other for the creation of a towering wall of sound that’s one of the toughest things you’ll hear in the current doom underworld.  A killer, swingin’ blues riff coupled to a soaring lick sends this tune out on a head-nodding boogie grind that feels just right after the furious beating the rest of the track dishes up.

Raucous, punked-up Motörhead speeds, surly Maryland doom-esque groove and the general road ready engine roar of Inepsy infects the boiling blood of “Throne of Compulsion.”  A churning, chunking riff is equal parts DIY punk/old school hard rock as the scattershot shotgun spread of crazed drumming and fireball licks/leads erupt in every direction like a bipolar volcano.  It’s the sound of a biker brawl in a bar that pours out onto the streets.  The upbeat nature of the riffage and rhythms goes into a swirling downer thrash crumble at the 1:20 mark; descending n’ decaying guitar signals, pulverizing low-end suffocation and never-ending percussive smacks all vying for your soul in a humans vs. gods tug of war that’s sure to split you in half.  Halting the pace by three quarters “Pseudo Vein” throws some tricky, jazzy drumming into a bubbling vat of acid drowned doom metal riffage and plummeting bass lines that wrap the guitar work in a blanket of satin and Earthy mud.  Chad’s vocals battle with strangled melody ala Johnny Throckmorton on those first couple of Alabama Thunderpussy records on Man’s Ruin.  The end effect of the entire whole is alternately deadly yet tuneful.  Oil slick melody guitars catch a sick little groove before dumping the entire track over a cliff onto a mound of broken glass, rusty nails and noisy, nasty thrashing punk with squealing 6-string abandon putting a pitchfork in your spine…leaving you laying paralyzed for the impending steamroller full of sludgy slime to roll you over for good.  It’s by far one of my favorite tracks on the album and one of the best in the band’s bullpen thus far.

The title track is an instrumental break but not of the fluffy, “time to relax” variety.  Instead you get a motorized rhythm section that’s in full gear and screeching with minor guitar surges that are warped by bad acid 70s psyche licks.  Mike lets rip with brutish fill-work throughout and the entire band never hold back for a second which is refreshing to hear in a mid-album “breather” of sorts.  “Triple Saints” feels like it could turn into a crusty Swedish d-beat at any moment yet it decides to throw a sack of slugs into the race and hobbles the speed into a thrashing bout of sleaze sludge that’s as aggressive as a 2 a.m. domestic disturbance.  Amps feedback and hum with a little “Interlude” that barely provides respite prior to the all-out demon downpour of perennial Asound classic “Moss Man.”  This behemoth appeared on the Self-Titled tape I mentioned earlier but it rips beyond all comprehension thanks to this re-record.  Brandon Hamby’s production adds another stack of beef to the tones and the forest-dwelling grooves go hunting for Sasquatch with spear-tipped wah-soloing that goes off a very Hendrix-y deep end.  Jon’s bass is also taller and more hulking with a low slung, mid-paced groove in the solo break priming to squash you like a flea squaring off with Paul Bunyan.  “Commanding the Sword’s” regal entrance lick provides the entrance for a tractor trailer wreckin’ doom curmudgeon with big, bending blues riffs steeped in melody with Wyrick alternating between a haggard, heart-rending melody and a gruff sneering snarl for the chorus’ heavier than thou riff/rhythm shakedown.  One of the album’s most sodden downtuners “Chief of Thieves” follows up and peels the paint off the shed with head dampening sludge before “Master of the Mind” brings on another hellish diesel-fueled speed up into hardcore, sludgy thrash smashin’.  The record closes with a cover of Floor’s “Loanin” which The Asound bend to their will and stylistic prowess while making the tune perhaps even heavier and more metallic in the process.

Impalement Arts was one of my top 10 albums last year for a reason; when it comes to sludgy doom with speedy shake-ups and all around variety…it’s a top tier record in the current era that stands up to great stuff that came before and around it.  The Asound makes their riffs stick, they can play like hell as a unit and there are numerous moments on this record that bring back immediate memory recall even when the music’s not playing.  The LP looks and sounds fantastic, the final result being one that any fans of hard rockin’ doom with a punk/metal/hardcore background should absolutely check out.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
April 23rd, 2019

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