Junior Bruce
Endless Descent

Bloodlet/Hope and Suicide alumni Scott Angelacos and Tom Crowther have been insanely busy with music lately.  As a huge fan of Bloodlet since The Seraphim Fall came out, I couldn’t be a happier 34 year old hate bastard fucker.  On top of the release of the pure Floridian sludge classic Hollow Leg’s Crown, which also features the duo of Scott and Tom; the gruesome twosome  returns with the second platter of Hell’s Angels rallying, burnt rubber punk/hardcore n’ exhaust smoked doom in the form of Junior Bruce’s Endless Descent.  The Marlboro scarred vocals, dual riffs from speedy Lemmy chaos to fetid swampy sludge, hardened glue rhythms and the brief forays into melody and psychedelia makes this album an easy win over their promising debut The Headless King.  With 3 EPs keeping up the momentum in between this new record and the debut, you can tell JB is here to down your scotch, rustle your cattle and steal your first born.  And don’t worry about your ol’ wife Ethel, ‘cause they fucked her up the ass right before the dinner bell rung

Crowther kicks up a stomach achin’, rotgut reflux bassline that sets opener “Lapis Philosophorum” into deadly motion.  Guitarists Nate Jones and Bryan Raymond alternate a mouthful of psychedelic backwash and measured, breadbasket punchin’ doom riffs before Jeff McAlear bursts into a crusty, Philthy Animal beat smash…n’ away we fuckin’ go.  The riffage is road burnt and reckless; careening around high speed stoner curves and punk rock pile-ups while dodging oncoming traffic with frightening ease.  A smothering smog blanket of drippy psychedelia lends another viewpoint to the material altogether.  The climactic lead guitar lick is all payoff and no blue balls and Scott is at the top of his game, vocally.  His harsh scream has morphed into a throaty roar/shout with cool timings and lashing hooks (see the track’s endnote for some good lung-fried melody).

The end result reminds me of the ruthless yet catchy English scuzz-sludge hardcore of Among the Missing and Hard to Swallow, NOLA sludge, Earthride, Lemmy, blown-out Floridian swamp muckers Cavity, Railsplitter and of course Bloodlet and Hope and Suicide…every influence combining into its own uniquely delectable abscessed tooth flavor.  “Lion’s Teeth” offers more of the same only the tempo is doubled and granny’s crockpot blows its top with an overload of piss n, vinegar.  Quick lead bits and fuzzy wah textures temper the rage with groove until Wendigo whackin’ sludge riffs induce a quicksand crawl that chokes you while you sink with a squeezing python of a lead wrapped around your scrawny neck.  Scott’s rapid fire, raw meat rippin’ vocals and Jeff’s mixture of crusty d-beats and taut fill bitchslaps leave no holes visible in the band’s density.

“Thirteen Zeroes” is an instant anthem with a chorus cooked in Hell as Scott venomously spews, “Thirteen Zeroes, for the unlucky thirty one, SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY SIX, surrounded by the one,” above dueling classic metal guitars…one going high for the lead and the other growling in tandem with the bass for a demonically textured riff.  Ruthless shuffle beats and an ornery Beaten Back to Pure stewed boogie permeate this mean ass, gruel serving prison chef slopper.  Solos are ripped liberally and Angelacos even reaches for some of the gruff singing heard on Bloodlet’s unfairly maligned swansong Three Humid Nights in the Cypress TreesBloodlet took some chances on that record and it paid off to these ears.  Feedback and an oddly tuned evil riff collide with a martial law snare march in the opening moments that channel “Of the Deep” into its sordid, bad intentioned existence.  Unruly punk/metal combo riffs work your balls over like Holyfield going to town on a speedbag but big dips into sludge wind up plenty of haymakers.  It’s the nervously, fingertip bitin’ till blood change-ups that give this tune so much weight.  Melody-singed, 70s metal gallops with tuneful leads and infectiously guttural vocal expositions Tuesday Welds Lemmy to Maiden’s girders, building tension and heightened instrumentation to logical breaking points when the sludge returns like a charging bull on the hunt for a matador’s ass.

Ultra-thick, twitchy thrash/punk riffs bend into big blues-doom windfalls in the expertly crafted and controlled chaos heard during “Of the Earth.”  Scorched Earth soloing drags God down from the sky as the old monitor of souls goes down in one dialed-in knuckleduster from a bonged-out riff-fist.  This one’s got the melody grooves of Maryland doom, the chop shop aggression of DC punk and the hogfat sludge of Ohio/NOLA in its every last breath gasp.  Upbeat but sporting a brown recluse bite “The Worthless Ones” reeks of Shifty Records’ sludge ala Rue’s faster stuff with hash high early Fu Manchu swings and even some brute force thrash-y hardcore to steel-toed boot.  An “Interlude” provides acoustic malice in the fine tradition of Sabbath and the first two Down records which sets the album up for its slowest, heaviest, most apocalyptic jam “Night Hag.”  Every riff is a Russian Roulette spin loaded with a fatal sludge bullet.  The bass hangs lower than nuclear winter radiation as the tom-centered drum fills crack the remaining structures apart.  A midsection of soft psychedelic riffing is torn apart by powermad doom grinds with Scott ripping some of his most intense vokills in his arsenal.

Later leadwork boasts some oblique Eastern sounding modulations, allowing the song to fade out in a dustcloud of blown out and busted amps.  Nearly equal in heft “Lesser Key” highlights the band’s impeccable skills at twisting an Ebola-infected sludge riff for all it’s worth.  They chase a fifth of Cavity cough syrup with a case of COC sonic swagger for a flawless flux of head-nodding grooves and cement mixer sludge.  The title track closes up this black market body part shop by dangling jangly cleaner guitars and feedback for an atonal affection quickly turned violent thanks to molten magma flow rhythms and hypnotic doom riffs that burrow into the mind like a tick hellbent on brain blood.  Vocals are more distant and sorrowfully angry here with the music taking minimalistic swerves into near silence.  It’s an appropriate ender filled with suicide finality.

Sludge, doom, stoner, punk and metal gear heads should be able to easily appreciate Junior Bruce’s top-shelf work on Endless Descent.  This goes down like a smooth shot of rusty nails alongside Hollow Leg’s Crown, with both records proving that Bloodlet’s dangerous spirit is alive n’ kickin’ just in an even sludgier, more doomed-out form.  There’s not a weak point in Endless Descent’s armor and that deadly Floridian attack of Bloodlet, Hope and Suicide, Cavity, Dragbody, Railsplitter and Consular is here by the kilo…easily JB’s finest work to date.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
December 13th, 2016

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