William English
Basic Human Error

You’d never guess by taking a glance at the beautiful, landscape beset by sunset album cover that the UK’s William English is a shit rollin’, mud wallowing sludge hybrid band of the highest caliber.  Formed by three ex-members of the criminally overlooked A Horse Called War, this crush n’ kill quintet get on your back and never get off throughout the seven ugly boilermakers that comprise their debut full-length Basic Human Error.

The brain boiling, hot lava bath of opener “Bud Vessel” eschews familiar plodding Sabbath-isms in its first half for a punk-y Lemmy overdrive bustling with bending twin guitar carnage that lends a faint Thin Lizzy edge to the thickly tangled riffs of guitarists Carter and David Vickers.  Drummer Joseph Woodbury is much more aggressive than your average sludge pounder, interjecting a lot of shuffling snare-work and combat primed fills into the band’s full-throttle pestilence and it’s arguable that he goes even twice as bonkers whenever the groove turns to a sodden trample topped by highly melodic, acid drenched guitar leads much later in the song.  Vocalist Shane Miller always peddled sickness and famine for a Sunday sale price in A Horse Called War and he’s not settled down any since then.  Miller screams, shouts and screeches like he’s being given a hot foot in the depths of Hell.  This shit simply kicks ass and can’t decide whether coke or pot is its drug of choice…so it goes on a bender of both.

“Life of a Fisherman” kicks off with a riff so mighty that you’ll want to take it to church and worship it as your newfound God.  Callum Gibbe’s bass lines slink like they’re on the run from the cops and looking for alleys to duck into.  While the low-end darts around desperately like eyes on the watch of trouble, gloriously melancholic guitar harmonies collapse n’ crumble before resurrecting into a throat chokin’, Iron Monkey styled groove peppered with tricky, perpetual motion beats and vocals that’d make Johnny Morrow smile ear to ear in the great beyond.  Despite the 8 minute length and the expectations that this will be a by the book sludge crawl, there’s a lot of unique instrumental hooks, sonic curveballs and roaring, crust-addled backing vocals that give this slop a very off-kilter take on the genre.  Nobody will mistake it for top 40 or metalcore, but these guys are certainly striving and succeeding at forging an individual sound.

Sporting a catchier than the clap Sabbath hobble, “Seaweed” begins with the kinda swingin’, derelict riffage that will be like a coming home for miscreants that cut their teeth on Iron Monkey, Hard to Swallow, Among the Missing and Mistress.  This is English sludge so classically tried n’ true, they ought to teach this shit in college.  Claw drawn swoops of sharp, staccato thrash played out in slow motion are seen mingling with big dipping blues and a killer, echoing FX segment where the bass leads the charge amidst a bee swarm of feedback.  If you don’t like THE riff that enters at the 3:22 mark, an absolute Noble Prize winning slab of flawless head-nodding doom, there’s a good chance I won’t be inviting you over for beers anytime in the near future…  Sorry Charlie, this is how it’s done right here…words don’t even do it justice!  And Shane’s vocals comb just about every nook and cranny you want to hear out of a top-tier sludge vocalist…screaming, shouting, growling, pleading and despondently urging you to take your life if you got the balls and the blades handy.  And even though this jam holds more strictly to tradition…there are strangled melodies, tempo fluxes and numerous risks taken that again give these guys a zesty, satisfying vibe with plenty of atmosphere.

Not only is “Captain Tugboat” a hilarious song-handle; it’s yet another jam that isn’t content in just throwing the kitchen sink at you, but instead it tosses the whole damn kitchen in your direction wholesale.  Appearing as a cacophonous freak-out in near grind mode, the tune adopts a crusty thrash on the south side of d-beat that pushes the toxicity readings off the charts.  Midway through, the discordant dissension of weighty doom riffs alongside stop/start Am-Rep noise tendencies helps to heighten the tension to a schizophrenic, Xanax loaded tightrope walk that barely maintains balance or composure.  In fact, the song gleefully plummets into an abyssal canyon of killer groovy sludge riffs that get an incisive ass-fucking from the melodic guitar leads as crash n’ smash rhythms scent the proceedings with suicide potpourri.  “Grandpa Sorrow Part I” is a saddening dirge driven by the bass and smoothened out by damnation guitar harmonies.  The vocals are a crust-influenced series of trade-off between high screams and mid-range shouts (in the key of Tragedy) that made me wish my skin was covered in open sores to scratch.

William English save their most down-trodden, filthiest dirges for last…an excellent example of which is “A Monger” which is so damn begotten in its initial 2 and a half minutes it gives Grief and Burning Witch a run for their money at the annual Depression Bowl (although the creeping flesh guitar harmonies lend an otherworldly touch not possessed by their peers).  Still this band excels at shaking up their compositions when it’s most needed and “A Monger” showcases a sadist tortured second half with thrash, crust, double-bass drumming (or killer single pedal footwork), grind and sheer Sabbath might keeping the confusion comin’ on like a freight train.  Closer “Grandpa Sorrow Part II” is 11+ minutes of trippy, apocalyptic doom riddled with samples, ambient textures and bullet holes.  It’s like a glue huffin’ combination of Iron Monkey, Cavity, Rwake, Through Silver in Blood-era Neurosis and Amebix.  The band couldn’t have picked a better album ender if they tried.

Basic Human Error kicks basic human ass from the first note to the last.  These guys remind me of every band sludge band that sludge fans swear and die by, while being something completely different at the same time.  This is one of the reviews I never wanted to finish writing and that’s a good thing…I’d be damn shocked if this isn’t up there on this year’s top 10 list for me.  I’ll be buying this and will say that anyone into sludge/doom with a dangerously loose grip on its sanity should at least check it out.  Hopefully, you’ll hear the same things I did!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
September 1st, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: Luke_22

    Great review. This sounds killer. Haven’t enjoyed much sludge this year but this sounds immense and interesting, particularly being a big Iron Monkey fan.


  2. Commented by: Jay

    Thanks Luke, appreciate it man! I think this is the one to check out then. These guys are mean as hell, but they are pretty damn dynamic for the genre.

    They’ve got a bit of everything you could possibly want in terms of the sludge sound. This is classic, menacing English filth-doom at its best!


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