Weed Demon
Astrological Passages

From the double-dipped tab of wah overloaded guitars and sinew taut bass lines that die their way to slow-motion life during the intro of the title track, it’s obvious that Ohio brutes Weed Demon mean business on their first full-length altar sacrifice.  Riffs collapse with the space warping grace of dying stars, slowly ratcheting up into shuffling 4/4 blues swings that are nihilistically beaten into place by an acid rain pounding of cymbals, tightly wound snares and bull-rushing tom rolls.  Astrological Passages’ opener is a 10+ minute affair yet never feels overly turgid or even close to boring thanks to its hardcore blues sludge surgery calling to mind the cavity molesting filth of well…Cavity, Bongzilla, Serpent Venom, early Cathedral, Eyehategod, Church of Misery, Gloomy Sunday, Mugwart, etc.  This feels straight from the golden era of this stuff with the icing on the cake being the gutturally shouted/chanted vocals that sometimes veer into snarling, spit-lathered screams (possessing more than a touch of black metal chaos) and the emphasis on groove so heavy it’ll herniate your entire spinal column.  They’ve got enough finesse to make their material memorable and easily could have been signed to Shifty, Berserker, GameTwo, Pessimiser, Man’s Ruin or any of my other favorite riff centric labels from days past.

There’s a crusty, burly overpowering to the godless tonnage of “Primordial Genocide’s” way of incorporating a rugged, almost death metal tonality to the rotten dual guitar work; Winter and Entombed fans might be able to get behind this.  Noxious, toxin-polluted bass lines thread the entire moth-eaten fabric together as guitarists Brian Buckley and Andy Center providing backing blasphemy to bassist Jordan Holland’s mid-ranged, death-y lead vocals.  The 3:00 minute mark blurs the blood ritual via hazy, surrealistic clean guitars, a smooth bass pulse and a jazzy inflection of careful cymbal taps and busy tom-tom work from Chris Windle that only furthers the many musical qualities of this lunatic riff crew.  It’s uncommon to hear a Colour Haze leaned break in this sort of skullduggeryfuckery and the swerve is welcome.  A scalding, flesh-boiling solo eats away at the face like a shroom trip returning in the 11th hour, a technically tasty lil’ bit that’s the perfect bridge to the return of the band’s spoiled, curdled blues chunks.  Props to the filth-fucked, hydra-headed vocal workout that leads this song to the closing gallows (strained, melodic hollers, ripping blackened screams and thicker growls).  This is by far my favorite track on the record.

“Sigil of the Black Moon” is another 10+ behemoth and it switches up the game by allowing the clean instrumentation to breathe above a foreboding distorted buzz and an achingly aggressive drum attack heavy on the quickdraw snare fills and thrashing crashes.  Once the riffage clamps down it does so with all of the subtlety of a planet-sized vice as it squeezes the brains outta your skull in a tight grasp of moldy, landfill stinkin’ blues backed by garbage eating growl hymnals and bass lines that sniff so much glue that they became the presidents of Elmer’s.  The riffs really shine bright in this motherfucker of a tune and all fans of the Cavity/Bongzilla/EHG/16 classic sludge stomp should be able to get behind it.  Valley deep, throat sung chants reckon of Cisneros’ grumbling melodies amidst the mutant hypno-sludge riffing of “Dominion of Oblivion.”  Honestly, this out-sleeps the new Sleep for me (The Sciences is tight though, worth a check) by cross-breeding the aforementioned scum-sludge bands with Om; the end result being an unholy, unfuckwithable nasty blues doom take on Pike, Cisneros and Hakius with plenty of psychedelia overflowing in every direction of the cosmos.  When this beast hits the 4:30 mark the groove hits harder and deadlier than ever before with poisoned vocal screams freezing your internal organs cold.  Closer “Jettisoned” is the lengthiest piece here and it’s got a riff to die for drowning amongst its heavily phased, space-noise leads and shredding noise solo freak-outs.  It’s an instrumental that gets as nutty as Spaceboy’s psychotic, thrash-y take on the genre as Weed Demon goes a hash-smoked Slayer as well in the final quarter and eventually winds things down with some first album Hawkwind acoustics.

Astrological Passages is a pure, raw, unadulterated sludge album of the highest caliber with enough unique 70s space touches, over-the-top hardcore aggression, violent psychedelia and sickly blues riffs to make it stand tall in a crowded artform.  I’ve already come back to it numerous times beyond penning this review and I feel like it hits me harder with each subsequent listen.  Weed Demon’s band name might be tongue in cheek but there’s nothing light and fluffy about this music.  It’s a violent sludge exorcism that all fans of the low and slow should add to their collections.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
August 28th, 2018

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