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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Sludge: Sea of Bones - "The Earth Wants Us Dead"

I can't say I didn't see it coming. Every asshole in the office managed a sneeze, a cough, and a day off work via this sinus garbage being shared. When every channel connecting my ears, nose, and throat needs the benefit of a stiff plunging, it's likely hard to imagine the bleakest of hazy sludge metal providing any measure of comfort. I'm gonna play up my assumption that the drone I've enjoyed for the last twenty-seven minutes is credited to today's Sunday Sludge rather than the ringing ears that kept me up half the night.

Halloween marks the second release from Connecticut's Sea Of Bones, an atmospheric-doom collective committed to slowly snuffing your hope on The Earth Wants Us Dead, the trio's first release since 2007's The Harvest. Six tracks cover ninety minutes, an expansive amalgam of industrial sludge metal and droning soundscapes that ensures your mood won't improve much.

Not a damn one of these six tracks is anything you can zoom through (the shortest clocks at just over seven minutes). But this isn't an album that leaves you staring at the clock. You might just shake your head at how painfully real these mists can grow. Opening on The Stone The Slave And The Architect, we're at times offered an industrialized, churning sludge that slams us from side to side within a rough concrete corridor. At a snail's pace we're drawn and quartered atop a bed of fuzz. Boiling to the surface are vocals likened to charred pleas barbed with scars, delivering prophetic finger-pointings and dragging shit-caked feet.

Much later, on The Bridge, industrial filth is again realized. Starting on unsettling panning from side to side, the track rubs its eyes, slowly rises, and slaps itself into sobriety with cold palms. There's an absolutely devastating breed of sprayed soot, a stained outlook that evolves to rattle skulls on what is now the disc's heaviest hitter. Under the weight of incessant cymbal crashes and splintered guitars, the sound somehow seems to expand and implode all at once.

Where Sea Of Bones find their bearings is within tempo shifts and breathy transitions. Black Arm moves more quickly in a steady stream of chaos, like machines losing their rivets and spitting beyond control. You'll bite your inner-cheek trying to execute these tight turns, but barren earth is just ahead on Failure Of Light and Beneath The Earth. Call it the most complete track on the album, you might initially find Failure  relatively sunny, while the slow lakeside pluck of Beneath may provide catharsis, reflection, and a half-smile. On the former, the smooth lilt of guitar marries the gentle introduction of rhythm, but slowly emerging is a pensive sludge bounce. The structure has more movement and richer tones, while the mood sternly glares upward at mounting odds. Wearing many masks, the slow-slugging beast lumbers, caking skin and leaving behind thick clouds. And Beneath finds the band at their most abrasive as we quiver under jarring licks and splashing drums. You're blinded and shuffling on all fours.

The long drone exercise of the closing title track is ominous and eerie. Reverberations move in and out, shifting between rooms with barely a hint of immediate detection. Your ears play tricks and the band is asking that you remain patient. You're frozen stiff, so you don't really have a choice. Agonizingly viscous are the heaves and swells, and you won't know what to make of the distant chatter. Close your eyes and find an escape.

You're not gonna hit play, pound your chest, and grunt "fuck yeah" with this release. You're gonna drift, drop your shoulders, and collapse under the veiled intentions. Imagine a world without color and an existence without comfort. Sea Of Bones present realizations via broad strokes and slow drags. On The Earth Wants Us Dead, they assert rather than suggest. These sludge atmospheres are bleak, sure. But someone's gotta be straight with us.

For fans of: Rwake, Primitive Man, Neurosis
Pair with: Double Mocha Porter, Rogue Ales

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