Band: Opium Lord
Label: Sludgelord Records
Release Date: 11 October 2019
Format: Digital Download
Dear Sludgelord Records,
Could you possibly hold back on the great new releases for just a few weeks, so I might actually get round to reviewing something from a different label one of these days?
Well so it goes, another week, another record from the label that’s been so successfully hovering up my vinyl money in recent weeks. ‘Vore’ the second full-length release from Birmingham’s Blackened Sludge purveyors Opium Lord was actually where it all started for me. Somehow I had this promo so far in advance that the release date seemed forever an age away, but finally it approaches. So here we are.
Now some of you might ask “well what exactly is Blackened Sludge anyway?” And to be fair I just read that on some internet page promoting the band, but there’s a definite Black metal feel to the band’s shrieking demonic vocals, with music meanwhile that’s dirty, churning and overdriven, which ticks the Sludge box, so I can see the sense in such a categorisation.
But categorisation and classification will only get you so far. To really do justice to what ‘Vore’ sounds like, I imagine something like a simultaneous knife and hammer attack… carried out in the midst of a tornado. The guitars are piercing and cutting, the percussion brutal and battering, with tracks like ‘Lead Magnet’ slicing the listener with one savage blow after another, or the great ‘Centurion’ with it’s brutal tidal wave of a riff that builds and builds before crashing over your head.
But it’s not all relentless frenzy, the band is equally adept at pulling things back to a menacing, brooding stalk, as they do on ‘Suture’; the atmosphere cold and unforgiving, the drum beats heavy, the guitars slicing, but with an expansiveness as the band plays with textures and resonating feedback. These features are explored further on ‘Sherwood Is Connector’, which starts out on a pounding beat, before raising the intensity, with a charging rhythm, throwing out squealing harmonics reminiscent of GODFLESH. But perhaps it makes more sense to consider OPIUM LORD alongside their contemporaries and label mates TORPOR. Both bands are brilliant at carving out dissonant sonic landscapes alongside, powerful churning guitar riffs; while there’s something maybe philosophical or existential about TORPOR, OPIUM LORD present a more savage, animalistic side. ‘Vore’ is sonic violence without remorse.
Mike Scheidt of kindred spirits YOB joins the band on ‘Columbia’ to deliver an extra layer of tortured, vocal torment with the band provides a fittingly bleak musical landscape, moving through slow creeping crawls, pounding batteries, dissonant feedback and gut-churning bass rhythms. Everywhere else, the oppressive, menacing atmosphere is maintained, throughout the bludgeoning beats and down-tuned, flesh ripping riffs.
A lot of the appeal in ‘Vore’ is in the atmosphere it creates, and it’s a bleak and ugly one for sure. Whether the music is summoning a violent storm, stalking its prey or floating across the poisoned industrialised air, it’s a grim world to be sure. There’s a monster lurking under your bed and it’s coming to get you. No bedtime stories. Sleep tight. 8/10 Tom Boatman
8/10 To Greatness and Glory
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