Berlin Sludge band EARTH SHIP release their fourth album, and this time they have truly upped the stakes.
Reduced to Ashes groves on in, with dirty and malevolence smeared all over it. It’s a thunder strike of dark, dense noise, with some excellent tones and a real push into the depths of Sludge. It’s a great opener, a song that strikes a chord with those listeners who understand the intention of this band. Hollowed in the same root, has a very groove centred core, the likes of GOJIRA would be impressed with certain elements of this track. While not exactly in the same genre, there are parts that ring true to the great appeal of one of Metal’s most interesting bands, and to have as much genuine vigour and charm as this album that some of the greats manage.
Valley of Thorns takes the path towards yet groovier parts, with an almost Prog Metal edge to the groove. It’s the heavy, joyous edge to bands, oddly enough, like THE OCEAN or MASTODON come to mind with this track, which is no bad thing. With all honestly, it’s very apparent that you can’t just put EARTH SHIP into one dimension. Moving on, Conjured too has some fantastic little fills that just underlay the riff with such subtlety that the magic of the track is hard to really understand until you compartmentalise all the sections. It’s impressive, as Sludge can often become tired and easy to repeat itself. Thankfully, not with this track, and not with the next as Monolith once again applies its basslines and it’s drums to great effect, while the twisting, trippy riff and vocals churn and melt in your head, the whole effect a truly mesmerising, hypnotic sensation.
In Fires Light, is more focused on its riffs and chanting, which is by no means a bad thing, demonstrating that the groove is not only in there for the rhythm section, but throughout the band. It also exemplifies a great skill at achieving new heights with a tried and tested system. Being able to excel at something that isn’t new ground is just as impressive. To contrast this, In The Arms of Medusa is in all elements, fantastic. It’s great fun to rip though, pulling you into a high energy track, then pulls things right back for that mellow, intent filled side of things. Castle of Sorrow on the other hand, pulls no punches. Full on, blasting through the minutes like they’re nothing. It’s once again a broad stretch from the beginning of the record, but proves that even with the thrash elements, they have a hugely diverse sound to play with. Safeguard of Death stomps back into the melodic, mellowed out, almost sleazy blues feel. It’s a record for those who like classic sounds, but not all one kind of tone. Red Leaves might be one of the stand out pieces of the album, with thick, heavy tones, great, solid riffs and once again that signature drum style that within its simplicity is one of the most memorable in terms of lyrical content. While not the most complex, it revels in what it is, which is a solid tune, with some cracking vocals and chunky, bulked up playing.
The Edge of Time brings this album to a close on a sombre, nasty feeling track. This track feels like it wants to hurt you, that it revels in the dark spaces, the black and the bleak coming to life in the churning, slow groove. Taking all the various elements of this record, you can’t truly call this sludge in the sense of monotony EARTH SHIP have found something in their sound that transcends the sound of sludge, bringing in some blues, some thrash and some really special, sleazy kinds of noises that freshen up the scene. Those who think sludge can be boxed into one simple kind of music are sorely shown up with this album.
The thing with this record is that while you have to call this sludge, it’s not strictly in the same vein as that either. There’s elements of Prog and flickers of Thrash running underneath, but the score of the whole ensemble, was a delight. It’s complex, mellow, its up-tempo, it’s sleazy. For anyone wanting more from Sludge, EARTH SHIP have brought their game up, and the result is truly pleasing in all aspects.
Hollowed is set for release on June 24th via Napalm Records.
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