Hell Obelisco
Swamp Wizard Rises

Pissed off megaton sludge from Italy is the day’s special served up by Hell Obelisco and their crusty, punk-inflected debut Swamp Wizard Rises.  This record is an unrelenting steamroller of groove, effortless tempo downshifts that lay off the speed throttle long enough to catch some head-nodding blues riffs and wrathful vocals that are on the whiskey end of the puke bucket.  The sonic sliming these guys throw around grinds up and smokes a pile full of Beaten Back to Pure, Pod People, Wolverine Blues/Morning Star era Entombed, Iron Monkey, Blood Duster’s more rock n’ rolly work circa Str8 Outta Northcote and Motörhead.  Sludge fans who prefer their sleaze on the quicker end of the spectrum in the constant instigator role with a rock n’ roll sneer will want to gleefully jump out in front of this quartet’s crosshairs and get gunned down for sport.

“Voodoo Alligator Blood” establishes the mission statement in a rubber-burning jackknife of death metal leaned roars, rollicking wah-drenched ephedrine riffs that dip into huge 4/4 blues, Alex’s punk rock time-keeping and stalk n’ slash bass crawls.  Tony J.J. from Swedish hardcore stoners Transport League (Superevil and Satanic Panic are still worth a listen) contributes gravelly, hardcore shouting vocals to the cacophony that further push the band’s economical but maniacally infectious, bluesy noise over the brink.  When guitarist Doc isn’t ripping through primal doom-baked riffing, he’s unleashing winding and rippling solos that just ooze and drip a 60s/70s psychedelic blues on the verge of a total mental collapse.  It’s simple in theory yet busy enough to keep your attention and overflowing with enough hook-laden sewage to fill a major city’s worth of septic tanks.  The hypnotic, snakecharmed doom riffs opening “Teenage Mammoth Club” unfold across a rolling, incessant tom-tom oriented beat before the groove plunges into an energetic negative riff that hurtles itself into a staggering stop/start hardcore sludge chug during the chorus.  Andrew’s blood curdling, drunken vomit growl is a near dead-ringer for Tony, the frontman of sadly late great Aussie rock/grinders Blood Duster and it’s perfectly fitting for the Lemmy on ‘ludes assault that Hell Obelisco summons from their stinkin’, stankin’ Italian bayou.  2:50 picks the collective carcasses of classic EHG/Iron Monkey records for a mid-tempo, grease pan sludge groove swing which should be absolutely taut in college for upcoming bands attempting to try their hands at the trade.

Incorporating some scoundrel rustling cowbell “Escaping Devil Bullets” never removes the foot from the floor; maintaining full acceleration with no time or slowdown for any mid-tempo and only changing things up late in the game thanks to some fuzzy, wah-drooling solos.  “Earth Rage Apocalypse” stumbles and lunges with gut-churning, withdrawal stricken mid-pace grinding that’s still jackhammered into place by choppy, nonstop snare fills and towering riffs border lining on punk speed but firmly entrenched in repulsive grooves and discordant guitar tones hovering in between Beaten Back to Pure and death n’ roll era Entombed mixed with the also BBTP related Birds of Prey.  Rancid bent notes, shrill minor key pinches and scraggly, psyched-out guitar leads send this one 6 feet under while it’s still breathing.  The severe doom-lashings and sluggard downswings of “Biting Killing Machine” utilizes some bipolar spoken vocals with double-tracked growls in its early going, roping you in with an intoxicating build that’s smashed to hell with a sledge via noxious sludge grooves, paint thinner rhythmic whiffs and mutated death vocals during its vile chorus segment.  A shimmering, clean psyche break gives way to the album’s most dominating riff at 2:30; really, words don’t do justice to the kind of slamming, strychnine blues on offer here.

Hazy, 90s Palm Desert stoner rock goes toe-to-toe with turpentine drinkin’ sludge on the murderous “Death Moloch Rising,” again another midpoint riff crafting the visage of a musical Vietnam where no human is safe from the horrific carnage.  Alright, “Biting Killing Machine” might have some serious competition for doom groove honors after witnessing this beast’s 2nd half plague over several frenzied listens.  These psychotic motherfuckers just keep coming at you too and never let up; the album topping your tank off with “Dead Dawn Duel’s” continued emphasis on earthworm eating doom riffs, “High Speed Demon” toying with juiced up double-kick drumming that’s the closest these whackos get to more direct death metal (though hard rockin’ groove crams every corner) while closer “Black Desert Doom’s” swift acoustic guitar opening gets usurped by outrageous 70s-sealed sludge with riffs of a truly regal persuasion ruling over all lifeforms that they deem lower (myself very much included!).

This is a fuckin’ righteous sludge record from start to finish with enough monstrous textbook riffs to please genre purists, plenty of speed shifts to keep newcomers interested and some unique texture inflections added to make sure your brain is burnt to a crisp by the time this record is done playing.  Hell Obelisco definitely hit the right notes here and I can’t wait to see what these Italian warlords come up with next.  Swamp Wizard Rises means business and this record isn’t satisfied until it takes your head home on a pike.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
April 25th, 2018

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