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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Sludge - Rwake

I've been told the R in Rwake goes unpronounced, making it the only silent thing about this band. These (mostly) bearded trailer-pArkansas shit-slingers have been leaving audiences with stains in their pants for nearly fifteen years, blending slow grooves and deathbed vocals to create a sludgecore sound that remains unparalleled. Their new album is scheduled for a September release, so some Sunday Sludge tutelage seems like the perfect companion to your busted air conditioner and bitchin' Camaro.

Since 1996, Rwake have proven themselves to be unapologetic, unflinching, and completely indifferent to where their contemporaries have drifted. They manage to keep alive dirty southern sludge traditions while also throwing in fresh, unfamiliar blackness to an already obsidian genre. They'll speed it up, they'll let their hostility get the better of them, and they'll spare no impurity in making sure you understand this is a metal band of the highest caliber. They'll stretch into doom, they'll trip into psychedelia, they'll even flirt with black metal vocals. But at day's end, you've got mud on your boots and you're happy to feel this ugly.

This is a band that's paid their dues. Both Xenoglossalgia: The Last Stage of Awareness and Absence Due to Projection were released by the band themselves, while extensive, exhausting stage gigs have enlightened audiences as they warmed up the likes of Weedeater, Mastodon, and Alabama Thunderpussy. Lineup changes have also demonstrated Rwake's dedication to the cause, never missing a beat in finding sufficient (often incredible) upgrades to departed members. Kiffin's axe wielding, replacing that of Chuck Schaaf, has retained the appropriation of the spectrum, highlighted on tracks like Forge and Imbedded, both found on If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die, the band's introduction to Kiffin.

The albums have progressively gotten more focused and more appropriately hostile, harnessing battling yelps and fuzzy crescendos before diving from a cliff and crashing into rocks. What's consistent, from Hell Is a Door to The Sun to Voices of Omens, is the noisy, undercooked thwarting of incredible down-tempo southern hammers. Rwake strike a balance of snarls and howls between CT and B, a dynamic unique to the hillbilly stomp of low, dirty groove underneath blistered riffage. This is as honest as the "The Natural State" is gonna get, folks.

No article's gonna give this band a rightful decree. I can listen to these songs and know Rwake is incredible, but these words fall flatter than Selma Blair. No contemporary band pulls off a successful marriage of extending the genre and chewing on tradition quite like Rwake. I didn't think I could hold on to any mettle while covered in another man's bawdry, but I suppose Rwake proved me wrong. And I suppose I'm also covered in a woman's bawdry. I can't wait for this new album's release. Look for Rest on September 27th.

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