Welcome to the first installment of "Sunday Sludge". This feature will showcase influential as well as up-and-coming and unsigned bands in this sub-genre of metal.
For those of you that may not be familiar with the Sludge Metal genre, here is a description via Wikipedia:
"Sludge metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal that melds elements of doom metal and hardcore punk, and sometimes incorporates influences from southern rock, stoner rock, and grunge. Sludge metal is typically abrasive; often featuring shouted vocals, heavily distorted instruments and sharply contrasting tempos. While the style was anticipated by the Melvins from Washington, many of its earliest pioneers were from the state of Louisiana."
Well since this is the inaugural article why don't we start with the aforementioned Melvins. The first time I ever heard the Melvins was on their album from 1993 called "Houdini". At that time I was totally into the grunge scene listening to heavier groove based bands such as Soundgarden, Gruntruck, Tad, and Skin Yard to name a few. After hearing the band, I naturally had to hear more of their previous recordings. Back then you couldn't just go online and find what you were looking for, so fortunately for me I worked as a store manager at a very "uncool" record store. I asked the buyers if they could get me a copy of the 1991 album called "Bullgod". Unfortunately, they said that they couldn't so I hopped in my car and went to our local independant store and sure enough they had one copy. For some reason, I never opened up cds right away and had to wait for the right environment to listen to it. Ok, now don't laugh, that environment was while I was washing my car. Now I occasionally listened to heavy music while I was washing my car but as soon as the first song started, I knew this was going to disturb the neighbourhood. The songs were painfully slow and the vocals were really not what I was used to, but as the music "sludged" on I really began to enjoy it more and more. While the sound of "Houdini" was a lot more polished, I loved the rawness of "Bullgod" as I recently included it in my Top 50 Best Stoner Rock Albums of All-Time coming in at #12.
The band is considered the "Godfathers of Grunge" but, many consider them as being the "Godfathers of Sludge" as well. The band naturally had an influence on the Grunge scene but also paved the way for such bands as Sludge gods Eyehategod and Crowbar. Even the Japanese experimental/drone rock act Boris took their name from the first track from the album "Bullgod".
The band has a pretty loyal following and continues to put out critically acclaimed albums, their most recent being 2010's "The Bride Screamed Murder" on Mike Patton's Ipecac recordings label. The album was the 20th of their career and the first to reach the Billboard Top 200 hundred selling 2809 copies in its first few weeks. Speaking of Mike Patton, King Buzzo along with bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Dave Lombardo formed the avant-garde metal band Fantomas.
The members have gone on to form or perform in many other successful bands and have been a huge influence on the scene. I hope that you get a chance to listen to this awesome band and if you haven't so already you will be hooked, I promise you.