In these tragic days of the disposable digital download, artists have to come up with increasingly novel ways to get people to pay attention to their physical product. As such we have seen a resurgence in vinyl offerings and even fan pack magazines including the album, so it should come as no surprise that I come to review this EP by Finnish sludgesters Usko because it was presented in a gimmicky way. On tape. That’s right – who the hell even owns a tape player these days right? Well, me obviously…
I was even more impressed on delivery that it was a garish pink cassette, almost designed to willfully throw you off the fact that it contains some of the dirtiest, sludgiest, er sludge I have heard in some time.
Clocking in at just shy of half an hour ‘Kuusi’ comprises of three snail paced tracks that feature not one, but two bass players (Jesse and Juha) and no guitar. Given that the rest of the band comprises of drums (Aatu) and vocals/noise, you should be getting the picture that this is a downtrend, nightmarish funeral march, slouching towards the apocalypse with flourishes of black metal and even drone at times.
All recorded live, the three tracks (Carradine, Kane Karva Elamon and Pohjola) are every bit as grinding, nasty and frightening as you would imagine. Teemu’s gargling, gurgling, guttural intonations ringing off the cacophony like a twisted narrator of end times. With the subject matter being sung in their native tongue I can only surmise that it is as bleak as the soundtrack, further accented by harrowing samples.
In truth it sounds nearly great as it plods along with the crushing weight of inevitability behind it; However the loose jamming vibe and the quality of the recording robs it of the full impact and this isn’t just because I was listening to it on a format less relevant than the Mini Disc.
Still as an opening salvo this shows great promise so check it out – it is available as free digital download for those not stuck in the past.
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Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden