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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Sludge: Rongeur - "As The Blind Strive"

Twenty years ago, Kyuss instructed us to "listen without distraction." The older I get, the more difficult this becomes. It's probably unfair, but some Sunday Sludge screenings are broken into two or three acts. When a band fuzzes my way and chews up less than twenty minutes of my morning, they may aleady have a distinct advantage. But the inner controversy erupts when a record spins all too quickly and I'm left hungry.

Such was the case with As The Blind Strive, a four-track demo from Oslo-based post-sludgers Rongeur. Ticking just past 19, the songs lick low-slung rhythms with callous barks and shit-caked guitar spikes, a delicious amalgam that'll require a second helping. Focused, divergent, and jarringly violent, it doesn't take long for this collection to shake off its shine.

Three vocalists offer varying levels of angst, ranging from eye-opening growls to storms of anguish. Violence is directed both inward and outward, deliberate in its opening target on Lying Bastard Whore. But the vacant post-metal sorrow litters tinny plucks and intermittent bass peaks that lend a bounce, blinding the flattened spite and scurrying into the fuzzy, distorted Traitors. Here the filth emerges and threads a thick chug, numbing via repetition and ticker-tape guitar.

Jon Hogg is quicker and more straightforward than its predecessors, but the mossy stoner pace hits a halt at the midpoint. The slow slugs lumber and loom with hanging reverb as the stomp sets up the seediest of summer camps, abruptly closing and tying into Why Would You. A deliberate trot swells to a steamroll, swirling dust and storming under cymbals. This closer burns hottest on its steady gait, bouncing and blistering to punch out the stoner tag. It's short, but fuck... it's sweet.

For the remainder of my day, Rongeur WILL BE the distraction and I'll get nothing done. Combining stoner-sludge and post-metal elements should create a clusterfucked toss, but As The Blind Strive defies odds and glazes the vast sorrow with white-knuckled crisis. Varying pace and never settling in, Rongeur batter us with every brand of heavy. And we'll drop everything once they're ready for another round.

For fans of: Neurosis, Pelican, Rodha
Pair with: Torpedo Extra I.P.A., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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