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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Sludge: DEEP

If I were inclined to join a cult, religious or not, I'd have to believe the cult would employ chants, didgeridoos, and a litany of elements you can find tucked into the seams of metal's expansive landscape. When you think on it, many of metal's themes have cultist imagery and sensibilities: sacrifice, horns, abandoning traditional paths and returning to nature. Worship the sun, worship the earth... Fuck, worship the now-dead Richard Ramirez and invent your own link between what's human and what's supernatural. Some people make a living out of it, and countless bands have adopted cults of their own.

Gorizia, Italy's DEEP fall in line with avant-garde drone-metal acts like Om, chanting with cavernous Byzantine unison atop a wet blanket of teeming guitar fuzz. The earthly nods counter the sun-caked upward blinks, but the real duality exists between the organic and the industrial. Yes, for all the dusty, dragging hikes DEEP will take us on, there's a stern 12-hour shift of pressor-man tension a la Type O Negative. And the whole of the band's forty-minute, 8-track debut LP Vol. 1 is an exercise in stylistic and thematic betrothal.

Staggering in sand and slugging through mud, tracks like Let It Roll In and Nazca shift tempos and smear repetition with steady low-end toil. Imagine struggling to carry water uphill to your family, being pelted with echoes and wavering assertions that the sun gods will someday end your plight. Long-winded, loose, and barbed with fuzz, the warmth evolves into a achy patch of heat that's gonna induce more than simple delirium. The stoner-sludge wall of incense and spider bites is trippy and a tad spooky (see SUN), and the progression toward the highlands becomes quite obviously sacrificial.

Stoner-metal may hold the band's most obvious influences, namely on the quick Fu Manchu sandblast of Long Haired Youth. Choppy and aggressive, the thickened grain grabs your hand and makes you dance, kinda like that junior-high bully you'd forgotten. The rapid swarm of licks and distant semi-automatic drum shots swallows everything on The Wizard & The Mountain. Those chants and pleas only last so long on this burner, warming its hands in an alley's glowing trashcan.

Where the wind grows cool and the vocal goes a bit classic-rock is where you'll welcome dark clouds. The smoke-blown Hyperventilation Revelation would draw north the Kakadu Aborigines, filling rooms by filling speakers. Sonic Mantra, meanwhile, is less a generator party than a redemptive kegger at the base of the mountain. Panned bass, low and loose, leads the way here; but the soft shuffle of lonesome guitar takes marquee billing. You'll adapt, but it won't be easy.

Maybe developing blind followers isn't their objective, but DEEP make a strong case for establishing a veiled ethos. The stoner-sludge seance is gonna carry over through dawn and saturate your morning. You see those people giving away their televisions and carrying spoons? What's going on?! I'm not saying I'd drink their Kool-Aid or seek any premature enlightenment, but I do love what I'm hearing from DEEP right now. But careful, dudes... Nathan Gale loved Pantera. Chapman loved John Lennon. A little fuzz goes a long way.

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