Label: Sludgelord Records
Release Date: 25 September 2020
Format Reviewed: Digital Stream
Following on from the excellent “Loud Wailing” EP from Sheffield natives Bible Basher back in June, the cities great underground metal label Sludgelord Records presents another local sludge-infused band this time in the shape of Naisain and the fittingly titled “Metal”, the second full-length from the band following their debut “Mammalian” all the way back in 2011, after which the band seemingly splintered off into various projects before converging again two years ago for an EP. And while a thirst for all things sludge may be an obvious hook to draw listeners the this release “Metal” is just as likely to appeal to those with a taste for noise rock as well as those who like an experimental and atmospheric take on the sludge metal genre.
When the band is at their most fiery and aggressive, like on opening track “Taft Point” and “Asteroid” there’s a rolling, lurching feel not too far away from something you might hear from Mastodon. The gruff, roaring vocals also fit that style, sometimes bringing to mind Neurosis, or even Godflesh. Elsewhere there are definite undertones of jazz with some odd time signatures and unusual rhythms, like on the standout track “Liquid Attraction” (that hints towards Helmet and their hypnotic rhythms) and “Praying for Elliot”, which has a cool wiry instrumental first half, before escalating into a roaring finale where the band is out their most reminiscent of Neurosis.
Elsewhere the album is peppered with some unusual instrumental interludes that break up the often more aggressive “main” tracks. Generally these tracks like “Is it Though” and “FILA” have a nice background ambience, without being especially memorable. Of these tracks “Small Talk” is probably the standout, with some echoing, distorted voices buried beneath a cool, almost soothing, slightly eerie guitar arpeggio.
As much as the band clearly has a taste for sludge metal, at times it sounds as though the noise rock of Unsane might be as big an influence as Mastodon or Neurosis. Certainly the band never falls into being a simple reproduction of one sound. This is to their credit for continually taking the music on a winding journey in different directions, but perhaps it doesn’t always gel so smoothly together.
The final track “Paradoxical Undressing” has a cool guitar line running through it, and an interesting contrast of stripping the aggression of the playing back, while having these really hoarse, booming vocals on top, almost sounding like Asphyx for a fer moments (the vocals, not so much the music).
The more angular, jazzy (and more noise rock infused) “Liquid Attraction” and “Praying for Elliot” probably remain the highpoints for me, and though much of this album doesn’t really blow me away, it’s a pretty cool mixture of sounds and ideas. For an album called “Metal” I appreciate how the band has created something that explores a lot of different metallic spaces while being always far from any cliche and cheesy metal posturing. 6.5/10 Tom Boatman
6.5/10 We may survive!
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