Sludge
Lava

I vaguely remember long running Swiss act Sludge and their late 90’s releases (Sweet Daisy, The Well, Scarecrow Messiah), as they had a couple of Tomas Skogsberg/Sunlight Produced efforts, had Samael guitarist Makro in their ranks and plied a dirty mix of death doom and thrash that was a pretty heavy sound coming from the Swiss in those days, almost making them heirs to the throne vacated by Celtic Frost.

Move forward a decade and an album I missed (2004’s Yellow Acid Rain), and Sludge are back, and though Makro is still in the band a considerable lineup change appears to have shifted the bands sound somewhat. Still apparent is the down tuned, hefty mix of groove, doom, death and thrash, but now injected with some electronic experimentation and an almost cyber metal feel (a slower In-Quest meets a cyber based Soulfly/Ektomork came to mind) and the end result is a solid if unspectacular album of various styles that never quite gel, despite some considerable heaviness.

On the positive side, with Makroo producing, the guitar tone and overall production is huge, resulting in a super chunky, cyber metal heft and precision that rivals anything Tue Madsen has ever done. The thing is that the songs themselves never really hit you as they should despite the superb tone. None of the songs truly stood out or commanded my attention as they sway from in your face, chunky thrashers like opener “60 Mm”, “Ida Na Hui” and “Carnivore” to slower, longer more deliberate and well… Sludgy numbers like the title track, “Below” and “Inquisition” slow things down to a lethargic chugging crawl. Also, new vocalist ‘Odin’ has a standard shout/roar that adds nothing to the character of the album.

Overall, Lava is a still a solid album but it displays the middle tier song writing that kept the band squarely in the realms of the relatively unknown for their career. Granted, the production and slabs of massive heft (“Machine”, “Inquisition”) give the album some enjoyable moments, but production alone can’t make the album anything more than a curious listen rather than a required listen.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
July 1st, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: swampthang

    In-Quest = SWEET AS HELL


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