Coming in to the spring of twenty twenty-one, life is starting to look far brighter. The hope for a more normal world, the opportunity to reconnect with people, and of far greater importance, being able to get out and about, and maybe even catching some live music again, what a real sense of fulfillment. Just think… a gig. A dark, dingy, sweaty gig. A room full of hairy, smelly, drunk metal heads, all collected together for the love of music. I can feel it already.
Part of that reason is because I’ve just listened to the new six track EP, by two face melting bands, Ungraven, and Slomatics. The thirty minute runtime truly summon up feelings of those dark dank nights, those venues we love so much, and sounds that would make Satan himself soil his panties.
I’m sure there are a great many of you who already know both of these bands, and for you, this next little bit will be of no interest, but to those who are yet to be initiated, let me educate you a little.
Ungraven is a three piece who hail from Liverpool and were formed in two thousand and nineteen, primarily by Conan front man Jon Davis (not to be confused with the namesake Korn singer). Intended to be a solo project, this promptly changed, since then Fudge Tunnel bassist David Ryley, and Tyler Hodges (drums) have jumped onboard to complete the lineup.
Slomatics have been around for almost two decades now, and hail from Belfast. These doom sludge juggernauts have released multiple albums, and split EP’s, and are most notably seen in the same ballpark as the aforementioned Conan, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, and Bongripper.
Both bands make similarly dark and sludgy sounds, but even within that compacted bracket, they still offer something uniquely different to each other. The EP is made up of three Ungraven tracks, followed by three Slomatics tracks, with each one being darker than its predecessor.
Right from opener, Defeat The Object, Ungraven stamp their mighty size 11’s on your windpipe, and pummel you into submission. With their mix of heavy, chugging riffs, they sound not too dissimilar to Godflesh, but with a thunderous stoner element, to match that industrial abrasiveness. With the thumping drums, chugging guitar, and visceral vocal, I note that they remind me of a slightly slowed, early Entombed. With this much coming at me from track one, I can’t wait to see what else is in store.
As heavy doom music goes, I think that this is where it’s at, completely, dark, dank, and uninviting. It’s sludgy, menacing, and thunderously heavy…
As I continue down this path, and unleash Onwards She Rides To A Certain Death, and Blackened Gates Of Eternity, I’m starting to get a sense of what Ungraven are all about. Stylistically, they’re ticking all the boxes for me, with their mix of nineties’ Ministry meets Nailbomb spite and bile, they really capture the spirit of the time. One of my personal heroes is Max Cavelera, and I can hear his legacy slipping in at various moments. The chugging guitar, mixed with vicious vocal delivery truly summons the Brazilian demi god in my head.
All three tracks are visceral. The drum patterns are completely off the chart.Abrasive and disjointed, they really do make the ride uneasy, and that bassline, well that just sets it off fantastically.
Slomatics take the baton, and run with it for their three tracks. Their brand of slow, turgid stoner doom, has me feeling like I’m being slowly dragged through the mud, face first. Kaan sets the scene. It’s darker, and more somber than what has been on to this point. It’s slow, drudgy, and downright doomy. I think about comparisons to anything in life, but honestly, the only thing that springs to mind is walking through a river of treacle. Thick, dense, and sticky, its nigh on impossible. Its foreboding, depressive, and bleak, and midway it slows to a virtual stop, before picking up the pace again.
Proto Hag builds on the groundwork set by Kaan, and with its slow-paced trudge, heavy bassline, and heavily fuzzed up guitar, it truly is hard work for the soul. The Bottom E string is so low, that it’s practically dragging along in the dirt on the floor. The EP finishes with Monitors, which is another slice of mud pie, smashed right in your face. Again, it’s so thick, it’s like walking through treacle. Slow and drudgy, heavy and dark, this isn’t just music, this is something altogether otherworldly.
It’s a hard listen, but not at all for any negative reasons. It’s just so darned intense, it doesn’t ever give you an opportunity to escape it. That shouldn’t take away from it at all, it’s masterfully played, and if sludge and doom is your thing, then checking this out is a must.
As heavy doom music goes, I think that this is where it’s at, completely, dark, dank, and uninviting. It’s sludgy, menacing, and thunderously heavy. Probably not for entertaining guests at a dinner party, but then who wants to entertain these days anyway?
Scribed by: Lee Beamish