Hailing from Russia, Remote have been spewing out huge walls of gradually more extreme pitch-black pick ‘n’ mix sludge for nearly a decade. A quick look at the cover art for their third full-length, Дым (Smoke), complete with dragons, a bong, and demons shagging girls from behind, and you might think that this is another tiresome weed metal offering of dank grooves and bad stoner puns (couldn’t blame you, to be fair), but while there’s plenty of familiar sludge stylings to their sound, Remote have a unique talent for incorporating various other styles into their songs that steadily develop and progress.
As common as overbaked run of the mill red-eyed sludge bands are these days, it’s maybe nearly just as common to find bands that throw in shades of black metal, or a whiff of crust, or some other brief surprise to their standard riffage, but it can be a fine line between something coherent and a jumbled reaching mess. Remote manage to make it work because they’re great players with a skilful fluency that’s typically absent from the raw cacophony of sludge metal. Their core sound is like that of a spaced-out stoner doom band with real chops filtered through classic sludge that incorporates bits of everything heavy along the way.
Opening track Шлюха (Whore) spends the first few minutes conjuring a 90s Martian jam before the vocals rip the speakers open. As the song breaks down into a swinging groove, you start to hear the first examples of Remote’s song writing depth, or rather, their ability to present a familiar template then gradually pick it apart and then make it into something new.
A consistent thread throughout the album, Evgeny Kravchenko’s voice is something like Grief’s Jeff Hayward’s with the delivery of Iron Monkey’s Johnny Morrow – but with a Russian accent. I don’t have the lyrics to hand but judging from the band’s previous releases and the song titles here, their lyrics delve into the depths of vice and human fallibility through the lens of dark psychedelic metaphor.
The second track begins sounding something like a muddier Immolation, with the death metal portent expanding into a chrononautic pulsing before the staple of swampy riffs and wretched vocals. There’s a lot of little details going on within the riffs, expressive drum patterns and intriguing guitar flourishes, while the songs are packed with twists and turns. From tensely descending guitar, death growls and bulldozing bass, to a cool rhythmic sample of an anvil that brings an industrial tinge.
the band have established a discernible pattern of multiple slivers of doom, psych, hardcore, crust, death, black and the progressive spirit of post-punk…
The relative technicality, rolling swing of the playing, and the ebb and flow of the writing – packed with ideas – makes me think of Taint. An underrated band that was ahead of their time who had too much going on for some heads that just wanted to bang or toke. And that may be something that puts you off Дым, because there’s a lot going on here and it’s maybe a little too much to take in at times.
After the first three tracks it seems like the band have established a discernible pattern of multiple slivers of doom, psych, hardcore, crust, death, black and the progressive spirit of post-punk which eventually give way to the almighty sludge combo of heavy riffs, pounding drums, and screeching vocals puking out noxious barbs of incomprehensible tar. But then track four, Пепел (Ash), throws everything out with nearly six minutes of noise, static, and stuttering toms. Clearly, Remote aren’t afraid to do exactly what they want, whether or not it all works for everyone. But none of the various elements are done badly and it seems like this band can do a convincing job of any heavy style.
Гореть (Ablaze) channels funeral doom melancholy into a thick mournful smog before things take a black metal turn, spawning a frenzied mash of raw extreme metal, with the vocals sounding particularly enraged before we’re led into something akin to ritualistic post-metal. For all the musical ground that’s covered, the band is at heart a heavy, grooving, sludge band. It’s angry and brutal, but it’s more rocking than despondent and strung out. Just check out the sneering rock ‘n’ roll attitude of the guitar solo on closing track Гравитация (Gravity).
If you’re just looking for something to smoke and headbang to, then it might be that this all sounds like a bit much. I don’t know if it all works, and some of the songs could maybe do with being a bit more focused, but whatever, if you like EyeHateGod, Grief, Iron Monkey, extreme metal, and bands that aren’t afraid to try out a bunch of different ideas, then you’ll find plenty to like here. My only real gripe is that I think the juvenile artwork sells the band short and gives the wrong impression of what they do, but again, whatever.
Remote has considerable talent and their innovative approach could break new ground in what has become a reliably stale and ever regurgitating sub-sub-genre. It would be great to see them take things even further. Excellent! (Отлично!)
Scribed by: Josuph Price