Sunday, May 19, 2013
Sunday Sludge: Sioux
Growing up, I'd cringe when my mother would say "Seth, you look so much like your grandfather." Maybe I wondered how it made my dad feel. Or maybe I couldn't appreciate the genetic link between myself and an abusive drunk who abandoned thirteen kids in favor of pissing away the family business at local bars. On a slightly different but slightly similar note, I don't like saying bands sound like other bands. Many do. Most do, in fact. But I try to reach for what sets them apart from either their influences or their contemporaries.
We're products of our environment, which doesn't help explain how Portland's Sioux squeezes snugly between bands from more than 2,000 miles away. Where many acts rehash ideas or steal riffs from their predecessors, Sioux manage to spread their swampy toes and sink into the mire with a sticky nod that would make John Baizley proud. You'll detect whispers of Georgia (or Voices of Omens), but you won't be distracted. On their four-track self-titled EP, Sioux showcase their musicianship and jump in with both feet, doing more to expand on metal's finest niche rather than put a cap on it.
From the onset of Bezoar, of course, the rhythms are thick and the guitars are jagged screeches dodging between Bald Cypress moss factories. Churning and scorching, intermittent with buzz and wail, the sound moves on all fours, never willing to fully pull away from the soggy filth. Kirk Evans growls with the seasoned dissonance toward cheerful tones and buries himself between low-slung bass plucks. All the while, guitars bake in the heat, never escaping the light slivered among the timber.
Countering with a slow-motion plod is Rheap, where you can leave the bog but the bog can't leave you. Ryan McPhaill's drums are just plain fucking nasty here, despite pacing a rhythm that finds a shamed melodic cadence. Dusty plucks and layered vocals hardly keep the grind from poking back. You'll start to notice the awesome electricity dancing off the strings as Sioux trail into skyshots toward fading constellations. Is night falling or are they just happy to see us?
Following suit, Aegeless bounces with fuzz coating, swinging a rusty stoner pendulum via the steadiest of churns. Matt Pike must've snuck up from behind and bitten these dudes, but the poison is more inoculative than toxic. Oh, the soft rain breaking the furry storm of mud and shit is a perfect reprieve, brief as it is. These dudes work perfectly together (two-thirds of them played in Salvador, bro!) on every thump and every skullsplit as the track unravels and expectations are tossed at concrete walls.
Sioux find a gentler, cleaner moment on In Tongues. Wait, nevermind. Somber tones give in to a flurry of drums and the rhythm knocks you on your sweaty ass. Evans' vocal here steps into a distant fog, demonstrating a range we hadn't previously heard. When Juan Carlos Caceres spits fire and the track shakes its head, the ritualistic deception is unmasked, crafting a delicious and captivating sound. The plateaus of sullen musings, with no foothold to stop the sinking, set apart this closer. Whew.
What traps many bands is derivation, being so enmeshed in the sounds crafted by fore-bearers that it's inescapable. Sioux shed a new skin and crash a party that's unforgiving and relentless. Add to this the accomplished musicianship soaking these sounds and you've got a prescription of promise. While boxing ears and shredding speakers isn't enough these days, it's also annoying to find bands attempting something they don't understand. Luckily, Sioux know a thing or two about crafting heavy stumps of sticky sludge with a straightforward, varied approach. Trust me, you'll dig it.