Sunday, March 10, 2013
Sunday Sludge: Opium Lord - "The Calendrical Cycle - Prologue: The Healer"
I didn't feel like getting raped today. I woke up and figured the likelihood of being penetrated was relatively low. I even figured a handful o' pills would be better left alone and maybe I'd try to turn things around for myself. I'll ditch the paranoia, wrap my knees before stumbling to the door, and crack open a warm case o' seldom-seen sunshine. Y'know, just as a step in the right direction. Maybe I should've shown a little backbone and given Birmingham's Opium Lord the slip. But one taste had me hooked.
Today we're enjoying the band's infancy, though you wouldn't know it by listening to their too short, two-track EP The Calendrical Cycle - Prologue: The Healer. Nine-and-a-half ticks hardly seem sufficient in captivating a listener, but there's more brutal disenchantment to behold here than on any 70-minute LP. Being the first in a series of three, Prologue: The Healer hardly leaves anything in the tank. Crushing, ominous, blackened sludge-doom is one way to describe it. Another approach is to gush at what this band is promising: two subsequent slabs of violent chop-and-toss scorn in coming months. But let's remain focused on what's in front of us.
With the name Opium Lord and track titles Heroin Swirls and Street Labs, one can wonder if the band is taking aim at junkies and their desperate, pathetic crawls or if they're... um... taking drugs themselves. As loose and erratic as these tracks can grow, there's an undeterred tightness that reappears just before the wheels come off. All at once jarring and incredibly sobering, Prologue: The Healer is gonna require Penicillin and a tub of Vitamin E.
Oh, those Heroin Swirls... gritty with fuzz and hollowed-out with a barrage of tin drums, this behemoth leaves a metallic aftertaste without the benefit of a chaser. The doomy sludge effectively pauses for old-school film reel clicks, grainy and quite somber. That middle passage is reserved for collecting pools of blood as you stand still, but screeches and spirals are bound to rip at your insides and leave your fingernails gnarled. But hey, now your skittish tics and leers have found their logical scapegoat. The choking vocal plays both victim and offender, but the scrape for understanding seems universal. The track's final minute is impudent punishment; a series of sustained brushes with concrete walls offering less give than Satan himself. I hope your mom packed your helmet.
Faster than its predecessor, Street Labs is a screeching stampede of varying speeds from every angle. Guitars string themselves from rafters as vocals bite the curb and try to stay breathing. Licks are buzzsaws here, spraying rooster tails of filth and dust. The tinny-pluck distance accompanying the crunchy chops is spooky, but you're too drained to do anything other than wave it closer. There's more sludge here than on Heroin Swirls, and the band's incessant buzz leaves your head numb and your tongue bleeding. And when it's all over, there's no track 3. You'll hit repeat and discover more questions than answers.
Put down the spoon and loosen your tourniquet. This EP is today's fix. At the very least, plug in your headphones and doom out as you wait in line for your methadone. These two sludgy bricks are gonna resonate for months, the perfect 12-step soundtrack! Y'know what? Your sponsor can get fucked; Opium Lord deliver the drift and won't turn up in a drug screen. The violent black pit you've entered is likely the best heaviness you'll hear for some time. Embrace it, turn it up, and try to avoid stealing your mom's car again. Just get through today, because chapter 2 is on the way. Good God, this is good shit.