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Lunch tonight was: Carnitas, carnne asada and pollo tacos from the place by the Harley Davidson store. Washed down with a half litre Mexican coke!

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Alex V. Cook is an author, journalist and music critic living Baton Rouge, LA. His work has appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American, DownBeat, Paste Magazine, Hails and Horns and The Wire, and his first collection of essays Darkness, Racket and Twang: Essential Listening from the Fringes of Popular and Unpopular Culture was published by Side Cartel in 2006.

He is the music editor for outsideleft.com, editor for Sweet Tooth, and a frequent contributor to 225 Magazine, OffBeat and Country Roads.

He is a founding contributor to the Badasses of Contemporary Composition blog.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Bring the Sludge

x-post facto: originally posted at outsideLeft


Nary is there a more manly art than sludge metal. Totimoshi recently proved that them with teats are equally adept at flying the mud-crusted flag, so its no boy’s club in its nature, but there is something purely knucklehead masculine about it. Its like that annual game of mud football you get in, or when provoked at a work party gone akimbo, you wrestle a co-worker whose shit you have to endure day in and out. It just feels good. It’s not a workout, it’s not even a release; it’s just opening that cellar door and letting the inner caveman off the leash for a bit.

One recent release that makes me want to get my Incredible Hulk on (really, when you get into that tired “what superpower would you want?” meme, Hulk powers are the logical choice, no?) is Vampire Circus from Maryland Sasquatch-metal combo Earthride. The fat giant riffs sound like they came from a volcano, and singer/bassist Dave Sherman has a sack-of-meat wrecking ball voice that sounds like it suffered under hours of practice for a belch-the-alphabet tournament against Lemmy from Motorhead. In other words, it’s absolutely brilliant.

Like many sludge classics, the songs kinda all tread the same muddied waters but the ones that stick out are “Understand” with a guitar solo that can only be doused by holy bongwater (when are we as a musical community going to get over our aversion to the guitar solo? We don’t need to go on for 10 minutes or anything, but c’mon. Everyone loves a perfect quick guitar solo.) and the organ-ground end times blues of “Dirtnap.” And really, my favorite on any sludge record is the extended “Maggot Brain” moment (and in case you didn’t know, Funkadelic’s 10-ton album of that title is as important a document in doom metal as the first Black Sabbath album, though its influence may be subliminal to the average practitioner of the dark art) and that is found in “Loss” which beats that dead horse for a merciful 6 minutes. Bursts of guitar smoke erupt in between the hooves of the Reaper's horse as he surveys the poisoned crop of humanity for his next soul. Or something like that. It’s a bleak picture, but the fun kind of bleak. The kind of bleak that you can water ski behind. It’s meat and potatoes anhililation Earthride trade in, and it’s your buds left slackjawed, holding your beer.

Come listen to where it all culminates: Earthride - "Swamp Witch"

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