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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Sludge: Rodha - "Raw"

It's only a demo, Seth.  THIS is only a fucking DEMO?!  Six months ago, four Germans started a band with the mission of crafting emotion-drenched stoner-sludge that's heavy on the heavy and light on absolutely nothing.  Hamburg's Rodha gave themselves only 26 minutes on Raw, an apt and appropriate title for a five-track collection that far-exceeds what one would expect from any "demo."  With guns blazing, this debut presents a band loaded with talent and already delivering on promise.

Buzzing like a distant (but not TOO distant) storm, Raw simmers with anguish and holds true to its initial rhythms.  Opening with a panning guitar warble and looming bass pluck on Bliss, listeners may have expected this hammer to drop.  With a crushing delivery, Mo's vocals are young and fresh, but brimming with torment.  Slow sludge is only a fraction of the appeal here; stoner cadence bounces intermittently between those sludge/doom cavities, and screaming "My! Bliss!" establishes a cool, heavy dichotomy.

A thick, quick trot highlights Fast Forward.  Rife with beautiful distortion, the sound moves like a dusty, dented roadster hiding a tireless and pristine motor.  Ardent and focused, Rodha spread electric sludge like a canvas over a splintered wooden frame.  Only the deaf won't be immediately captivated.  The structures on this disc begin to emerge and showcase a young band's talent.

Lies is festering, pregnant-with-thought (and a dose of piss and vinegar), and doom-oriented.  The worst of windstorms combines with the best of fuzz, and the mossy veil exposes more than it hides.  Imagine a live wire tossed into a mud puddle and you can nearly imagine what this song feels like.  Electric and tense, dense rhythms remain constant; the crunch builds and the overall mood remains one of pain on a lonesome, wet walk home.

Slow sludge toil is honored on the lumbering Overloaded.  Stephan's double-kick drum works to crack the sway as fuzz coats and seals alternating tempos.  Flo's bass hovers somewhere just above hell, while a brief and buzzing solo punctuates an otherwise sludgecore-filled delight.  As Mo barks "getting stronger day by day," you wonder just how far this band could go.  After all, this is only a demo.

Doom returns with a fucking vengeful sneer on Thousand Headed Goddess. Drums are patient, forecasting evil and crawling with electric fear.  The slow, buzzing march cracks and succumbs to an up-tempo vacillation that crashes in and chops away at every living thing in sight.  The thick fog of grinding sludge is never out of earshot, however, and Timo's licks know just when to pull back and grip a rhythm that's tranquil and focused.  An electric avalanche closes the collection, spilling out to bury the mire under its own weight.

Employing just five tracks of melded design, Rodha should have little trouble finding a rabid fan-base.  That a band can so strongly assert it's mettle on what they call a demo is nothing short of stunning, and their generosity (it's a FREE download at the bandcamp link below) is a testament to the confidence they have in themselves and one another.  These tracks are heavy, smart, well-structured, and dirty enough for sludge-o-philes to instantly fall into submission.  Let's stay tuned on these guys.  Yes, this was only a demo. High-five, fellas.

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